During the hot summer months, most homeowners don’t expect to find ice on their air conditioning unit. Unfortunately, this issue is more common than you might think, and having ice on your AC is a sure sign that something’s not right. Reviewing the likely causes can help you get your equipment back to its normal working state.
Problems with AC Ice
Once you notice that there’s ice on your unit, you need to turn your AC off. This can help prevent the situation from getting worse. Assuming it’s warm outside, this will help get the ice to melt, too. Let your unit thaw completely, then work through these different scenarios to identify the underlying cause.
1. Poor Airflow
If you’re lucky, the ice on your AC is the result of a more minor issue. After the ice has thawed, the first thing to do is to check is your air filter. Sometimes ice can form on air conditioners when there is poor airflow, so replacing your old air filter with a new one might be all it takes to get your unit running smoothly again.
One of the problems with dirty filters is that they put more stress on your evaporator coil. Reducing airflow over your evaporator coil can then cause your equipment’s temperature to drop below freezing. Consequently, humidity will start to collect around your AC and turn into ice.
Hopefully a new air filter will be enough to remedy the situation. To test this, wait for the ice to melt and then turn your air conditioner on again to see if the ice returns. If it doesn’t—then you’re all set. But if the ice comes back, there might be another problem.
2. Dirty Evaporator Coil
When ice forms even with a new air filter, you might be dealing with a dirty evaporator coil. This can happen with older units or AC equipment that hasn’t had regular maintenance.
In this case, you’ll want to turn the equipment off again and call on an expert to come clean the evaporator coil. Unfortunately, this isn’t something that homeowners can do on their own. The process requires a tech to fully removing the indoor coil to clean it, before re-installing.
Continuing to run your AC unit when this part isn’t working properly can cause a chain reaction of other issues. Rather than risk damage to your compressor or other AC parts, it’s best to call your local HVAC company to take a closer look. Odds are, they’ll be able to remedy the situation pretty quickly with by either cleaning your evaporator coil. Otherwise, they might have to take a look at your refrigerant levels.
3. Low Refrigerant
Systems that have low refrigerant aren’t able to keep the evaporator coil within the proper temperature ranges. If you have an issue with refrigerant—and not the coil itself—your AC unit probably has a leak.
Simply topping off the refrigerant isn’t usually enough to fix the issue. In fact, if you just add refrigerant without testing for a leak first, you might just be wasting money. Depending on the leak size, it could take several months of just a couple of days to have the problem come back. So, it’s a risk. (Plus, companies don’t provide a warranty on refrigerant, especially without a leak search and repair.)
For these reasons, it’s important for your HVAC technician to check for leaks whenever your refrigerant levels are low. If your tech can find the leak and repair it, you’ll be able to avoid other costly replacement parts. A detailed review of your system can help you figure out what’s wrong.
4. Broken Motors
The last reason you might have ice on your AC unit is if a blower motor or your fan motor is going out. These issues can also cause your system to freeze up due to restricted air flow. (Though this is different than poor air flow just from a dirty filter.) As with dirty evaporator coils and refrigerant leaks, if your motor has gone out, you’ll need an HVAC tech to come by for some repairs.
Time for AC Repair?
As soon as you realize that there’s ice on your AC unit, remember to turn your system off. Continuing to use your home’s air conditioning can just make matters worse. Replace your air filter as the ice thaws. That way, if the ice returns, you’ll know you need to call your local HVAC company to take a peek inside the unit.
If you’re located around the Indianapolis area, know that our team at LCS Heating and Cooling has got your back. We’re here to help you out whenever you notice issues with your AC in the summertime. Hopefully the ice on your AC is just the result of poor airflow from a dirty filter. But if the problem is more complicated, our team will make it right.
We know HVAC repairs can be annoying to deal with, but our expertise can get your home back to normal without too much downtime. For any questions about your air conditioner repairs and other function, just call LCS Heating and Cooling at (317) 238-3961. Summer is supposed to be enjoyable—we’ll help you keep it that way!