When your air conditioner is running properly, it should be quiet and run without freezing. However, you may have noticed your system showing signs of freezing up, especially on the hottest days. But what causes these frozen problems, and what can you do about them?
How Your Air Conditioner Cools
Before digging into the causes of system freezes, it may help to understand how your system works. The trick behind your air conditioner is that it transfers heat from the air in your home to the air outside. Removing the heat from the air is what actually causes it to be colder when coming from your vents.
The refrigerant that circulates through your system is what absorbs and vents the heat. When this refrigerant’s pressure drops, it comes very cold, allowing it to absorb heat easily. This happens when it comes into the evaporator coil inside your house.
Conversely, when the pressure increases, it becomes hot, allowing it to easily transfer the heat out. The compressor in the condensing unit outside increases the pressure as the refrigerant enters the condensing coil.
If there is an issue with the system properly regulating the refrigerant pressure or circulating air, the system will not cool. Depending on the specific issue, this may lead to a freeze in your system.
Signs Your System May Be Frozen
There are several signs you may look for to indicate you have a possible freezing problem in your system. The most obvious is visible frosting or icing on components or lines.
However, more subtly, you may notice lower airflow coming from your vents inside your home. You may also notice the air coming from your vents is not as cool. These both can be signs of a freeze or the problems that lead to your system freezing.
One of the most significant problems leading to a system freeze is low refrigerant, caused by a leak. The low refrigerant causes the pressure to drop unusually at the wrong places in your system, causing it to freeze up. Once this freezes, it prevents it from flowing through the system properly, leading to additional problems and repairs.
Dirty Air Filters
Your air filters are the key to many air conditioning problems and solutions. Once the filters become dirty, air will not flow through them properly, preventing the system from efficiently cooling your home. Simply checking and changing your filters regularly will help reduce both freezing and many other problems.
Mechanical malfunctions are also a common culprit of your system freezing. This is especially true for the compressor outside your home. When this malfunctions, it may cause a refrigerant leak, leading to a freeze-up at the condensing coil outside.
Dirty Evaporator Coil
Inside your home is the evaporator coil, which is responsible for the refrigerant absorbing heating from the circulating air. As air flows over this coil, small particles of dirt another contaminants settle onto the coil.
These particles will begin restricting airflow through the coil and create a bit of an insulating effect. This means that the air flowing over the coil cannot transfer heat as effectively. Without the right amount of heat absorbed, the evaporator coil may freeze, further restricting airflow.
Circulating Fan Problems
Your circulating fan is responsible for drawing air in through the filters and pushing it back out into your home. Any problem with the fan and your system may not move the right amount of air to allow the system to work properly.
The two most common problems with circulating fans include the fan being dirty and some mechanical malfunction. The fan collects particles from the circulating air, much like the evaporator coil, so it needs to be cleaned regularly. If the fan motor begins malfunctioning, it may turn the fan more slowly, restricting the amount of air it moves.
What to Do If Your System Freezes
If you suspect your system is frozen, shut it down and allow it to thaw. While waiting, check your air filters to ensure they are clean. Also, check to see if you can visually see any evidence of freezing. If you do find a freeze, call a professional tech to troubleshoot and fix the problem.
You can prevent system freezes by giving your system the right maintenance every spring. With a professional tune-up, a technician will clean your coils and circulating fan and inspect your air filter. They will also test the refrigerant level and the various system components to ensure everything is working properly.
Climate Controlled Services is a trusted air conditioning repair partner to those around Kennesaw. Our team is sought after for heating and cooling installation, repair, and maintenance along with indoor air quality solutions. Call to schedule your air conditioning repair or maintenance with one of our experts today.