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How Does an Air Conditioner Freeze in the Heat?

evaporator-coil-air-conditioner

A normal evaporator coil.

Air conditioners are not supposed to freeze. While many of the same components are used for your home freezer, you might be surprised to know that a freezing air conditioner is actually a bad thing. As you’ll see below, it forces your air conditioner to work harder than it’s meant to and can cost you more of your monthly bills. So why is it, then, that an air conditioner does freeze—typically during one of the warmest days of the year?

The indoor coil portion of your air conditioner is most vulnerable to freezing. And, even though it’s not supposed to, this tends to happen on a very hot day. How can this be? And, what’s more: what should be done? We help you answer these questions and more in today’s post, but please call our team for urgent air conditioning repairs.

The Evaporator Coil

The evaporator coil is located in the indoor portion of your air conditioner, and this is the component liable to freeze—if something goes wrong inside the system. To understand how this happens, you’ll have to understand how it’s supposed to work.

The evaporator coil is one of the parts refrigerant passes through during the cooling process. Refrigerant evaporates as it enters this coil and absorbs heat. The heat absorption allows the evaporator coil to cool down, while heat is removed to the outdoors. Air blowing over the coil cools down (loses its heat), and in the process, some humidity collects on the coil as condensation.

How an Air Conditioner Freezes

The air conditioner is designed so that the coil gets just cool enough to cool the air. Something goes wrong when…

  • There is not enough refrigerant running through the coil (due to a leak, usually)
  • There is not enough air moving over the coil (due either to a motor and fan malfunction or a dirty filter)
  • The system is the wrong size for your home (resulting in inconsistent cycles)

The moisture collecting on the coil freezes and causes problems for the AC system, as you’ll see below.

The Effects

When the coil is frozen, it blocks the air conditioner’s ability to continue to absorb heat. That means your air conditioner has to work a lot harder to cool your home, which means overall, you can expect not to have the performance you need. That means…

  • Higher bills, since the system has to run for longer cycles
  • Worn-down components that may need more frequent repairs
  • Discomfort—because the frozen coil won’t actually keep you cooler

What to Do about It

The most important advice we can give first and foremost is what not to do—do NOT scrape the coils of ice, as this can cause severe damage. Rather, we recommend that you do one of two things. First, try changing the filter. This might actually be a simple solution!

If that doesn’t work, it’s time to call in a professional technician with the experience to diagnose a problem and find the right method of repair.

When you need air conditioning repair in Beaumont, TX, you can count on Air Services Unlimited.

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