How to Fix a Frozen Air Conditioner

February 23, 2015

Summer’s coming (believe it or not) and here's an often cited scenario with the average homeowner: They’re at home, minding their own business, enjoying a bowl of popcorn and watching Netflix, when they notice that terrible sound; drip... drip... drip. They glance over to see the cat licking at a puddle that's gradually forming on the dining room floor. Suddenly: Concern, stress, and that “how much will this cost?” feeling. Where did the leak come from?; water heater, leaky toilet, shower, faucet? Nope – the central air conditioner is frozen solid. This can occur anywhere, from Nashville to Thailand, regardless of weather.

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Why Air Conditioners Freeze

The part of the air conditioner that actually freezes is known as the evaporator coil. This component of the air conditioner transfers (evaporates) heat from the inside to the outside of your Nashville area home. The two main reasons why the evaporator coil may freeze:

  1. Restricted air flow
  2. Low refrigerant

Either way, the result is that the air conditioner's evaporator coil cannot operate to properly transfer heat, and in essence 'overcools' itself. The result of this super-cooling is condensation (that's water formation), and eventually ice forms from that condensation as it cools below the freezing point. Yep, the A/C has morphed into an old-school icebox.

What Should You Do When Your A/C Freezes?

  1. Turn the A/C completely off at the thermostat, and do not increase the thermostat temperature as a way to melt the frost on the coils. Ensure the A/C system is completely OFF.
  2. Do what you can to ensure airflow is not restricted. Replace the furnace or air handler's filter and replace any return air filters. Open all the registers completely and confirm that they are not blocked by furniture or drapes.
  3. Call Donelson Air Service Experts. The air conditioning system needs to be inspected by a NATE-certified professional to ensure there are no refrigerant leaks or damage to the equipment. Simply schedule a Performance Inspection or Repair Diagnostic online, or call to talk to a live person right away.

What Does it Cost to Repair?

This can lead to a costly repair. When your unit freezes over it can lead to a compressor replacement. Replacing your compressor could easily cost as much as a downpayment on a new system. Unfortunately, many people are forced to decide between installing a new system vs repairing the damaged one. If you follow the steps above and quickly call a NATE-certified technician, you stand a better chance of having a less expensive repair.

Your technician will diagnose the situation and how to avoid the issue from happening again. If a leak exists (and that is rare, but possible), the leak has to be repaired or the unit will most likely freeze again.
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