How to Prevent Ice Buildup on Air Conditioner

Have you noticed some ice buildup on your air conditioner? Well, one cause of such a buildup is the dirty evaporator coils. And, to find out more about ice buildup on ac systems, keep on reading this simple guide. You’ll like it, trust me!

Is It Normal for Ice to Form on Air Conditioner?

Unfortunately, ice forming on your ac is not something normal. However, the ice buildup is too common in air conditioning units. If the air conditioner unit has frozen, don’t just let the ice go because the ice forming on your aircon system usually leads to blockages that end up damaging the system.

Instead of allowing the ice to disappear, teach yourself how to repair a frozen aircon system by checking and cleaning its components. And, in some cases, contracting an HVAC professional to come and take care of the persistent issues.

How Does Ice Buildup on Ac Units

Before joining the evaporator coil, an expansion valve eliminates the pressure coming from the air conditioner’s liquid refrigerant and leading to it expanding to become vapor and quickly cooling to levels closer to the freezing temperatures.

After the moisture gets into contact with the air in your home, the AC’s refrigerant soaks up the heat coming from the passing air. This process leads to the moisture in your house condensing, making it turn into a liquid. The air that cooled down and dried directs itself back to the home’s indoor spaces. Meanwhile, the system compresses the refrigerant and runs it via the condenser coil.

At that point, it discharges that latent heat towards the outside air. Remember that temperature levels on the coil’s surface are floating near the freezing point. If there is no sufficient refrigerant in the aircon or good air passing via the coils, the coil temperatures will drop below the cooling points.

The process leads to the surrounding moisture freezing on the coil, creating the tell-tale frost and ice buildup layers.

What Does Ice Buildup on Ac Look Like?

It’s normal to notice a thin light frost dust on the air conditioning unit’s evaporator coil during operation. Trouble in your air conditioning system will come if the thin dust develops into a heavy ice buildup or frost.

If there’s an ice buildup, the first thing you’ll notice is air conditioner will not reach the threshold that you set on the unit’s thermostat.

Also, you may feel there’s warm air blowing from the unit’s supply registers. If you can’t realize there’s some air blowing out of those supply registers despite turning the air conditioner unit on, it could be another probable indication of ice buildup. Also, you might notice the air conditioner unit starting, stopping, or restarting its compressor repeatedly.

This issue is known as short-cycling, and it is a significant sign of ice buildup. And it can eventually hurt the air conditioner through avoidable wear and tear.

How to Tell If Ac is Frozen

  • Condensation on your indoor air handler’s surface
  • Condensation on the condensate drain’s surface
  • Ice build-up on the refrigerant line outdoors
  • Ice forming on the evaporator coil in your air conditioner
  • Supply registers become warm or clogged
  • Your room becomes warm even though the air conditioner is constantly performing
  • Ice formation on the access panel
  • Inadequate airflow through the vents
  • Ice forming on the copper coils
  • Dusty and dirty filters

Why Does My Air Conditioner Have Ice Build Up

1. Poor Air Flow in Your Frozen Air Conditioner Due to Clogged or Dirty Air Filter

Usually, a dirty air filter decreases the amount of air passing through the air conditioning systems, leading to the unit freezing up. Issues that can reduce the air flowing through your ac system are;

  • Clogged or dirty air filter
  • Obstructed air vents
  • Dirty or clogged ducts
  • Unavailable return ducts
  • Improperly sized ductwork
  • Dirty evaporator coils

2. Low Refrigerant Levels in Your Air Conditioning System

The quantity of refrigerant inside the evaporator coil and condenser coils is vital since it plays a role in how the HVAC unit manages pressure. The warm air turns to or flashes liquid refrigerant to a gas that heats up, causing the pressure to drop.

However, low refrigerant amounts in the air conditioner make the flashing occur too early. More flashes mean that your HVAC unit will have more ice buildup. Excess ice on your air conditioning unit can also cover the copper pipes.

3. Blower Fan Problems

An object might likely knock the blower motor out of balance rendering it useless for regular use or operation. For that reason, your ac unit requires an HVAC technician check.

4. Dirty Evaporator Coils

The air conditioning unit filters different sorts of awful stuff out of the home’s air—for example, pet dander, debris buildup, hair, dust, mold, and dirt. But the filter in an ac system doesn’t capture everything. So over time, the evaporator coil cakes in grime layers.

5. Cool Summer Nights

Manufacturers calibrate the ac system to operate within an allowed optimum temperature threshold. So, when summer night temperatures go below the optimum point, it whacks out the air conditioner.

A programmable thermostat automatically deals with the issue by turning off the ac system when temperatures go below 60 degrees.

6. Clogged Drain System

Your air conditioner not only controls your home’s temperature but also clears humidity. Moreover, the air conditioner has a drainage system. Such a system allows excess moisture to soak outside the house.

However, if there’s a blockage in the AC’s condensate drain line or drain pan, the water returns to the air conditioner and freezes on the evaporator coil when the refrigerant soaks latent heat.

7. Bad Compressor

Many consider the compressor as the soul of the air conditioner. Moreover, it’s responsible for condensing the refrigerant and eliminating latent heat from your house. Inadequate compressed air will disrupt how the heat pump functions, leading to a frozen evaporator coil in the air conditioner.

What to Do When Your Air Conditioning System Is Frozen

First, shut down the unit immediately to allow it to thaw out. Next, check to ensure that your filter is clean, and if it isn’t, replace it. Let the ice on parts like the condenser coils melt away; this takes a minimum of five hours. After the unit has thawed out, you can turn the ac unit on to see if it’s working correctly.

If the issues persist, call an HVAC pro who can handle the electrical work. I bet the pro will do great service to your ac.

Things not to do 

If your ac is frozen, you shouldn’t continue using it as you may set yourself up for a damaged compressor or a burnt-out motor. The two parts are very costly to replace. Hence it would be best if you protected them.

Don’t scrape or handpick the ice from the ac or coils. You’ll likely damage the unit, and you won’t speed up or deal with the actual issue.

How to Prevent Ice Buildup on Air Conditioner  

1. Let an Hvac Technician Check the Air Conditioner for Refrigerant Leaks

As the air conditioner works with fewer refrigerant levels than intended, pressure drops, causing the temperatures below the freezing point. So, when temperatures drop like that, the nearby water vapor freezes onto the surface of the coils.

While that initially leads to a thin coat of frost, it can grow into a heavy sheet of ice. You should let an HVAC technician assess the refrigerant levels in your air conditioner, and if necessary, should add more refrigerant.

2.Check and Change your Air Filter

A blocked or otherwise dirty air filter prevents enough airflow in the AC’s return air duct. If there’s restricted airflow via the evaporator coil, it will eventually cause ice on your air conditioning unit.

Regularly replacing the air filter isn’t only essential for avoiding the freezing of coils and necessary for good cooling and airflow in your home.

3. Ensure the Blower Fan is Operating Correctly

Often, a problematic blower fan can frustrate your air conditioner. Either because it doesn’t function or it can’t produce enough air. In either case, you will have to call your HVAC technician to assess your blower fan.

4. Check the Condensate Drain Line

Any condensed moisture from the humid air collects on the condensate drip tray, where it flows to the air conditioner via the built-in drainage system. If any material blocks part of the system, moisture from the tray goes back up and finally overflows. If you notice clogs in the drain system, use a shop vacuum to clear up the debris.

5. Check your Vents

Take away all the furniture close to any vents; this will allow enough air to pass through. Also, avoid closing more than one supply vent.

Ice Build Up on Ac Unit FAQ

1. What Causes Ice to Form on Ac Coils?

When your air conditioner system has low refrigerant levels or is charged inaccurately, the coils holding the refrigerant will result in it being cold, causing an ice buildup on the system’s coils. This problem heightens promptly when the air becomes humid or if the ac coils are dirty.

2. Why is There Ice on My Air Conditioner Pipes Inside?

As your air conditioner’s refrigerant levels drop below the desired points, so do the refrigerant temperatures in the evaporator coils. And that eventually leads to some ice building up on the pipe hosting the refrigerant.

So, if your air conditioner unit has a reduced refrigerant level, it is somewhat likely that it has led to pinhole leaks within the entire system.

Why Is There Ice on the Air Conditioner Pipe Outside?

The answer to this ac question is somewhat simple. The pressure in the evaporator coil decreases when your air conditioner system has low refrigerant levels. As its pressure drops, so does the refrigerant’s temperature.

As more condensation freezes up, the chances are that you will notice there is some ice buildup on the air conditioner pipe outside too.

Why Is AC Unit Freezing Up in Summer?

An air conditioner freezes up in warm temperatures, for example, in the summertime, if there is a pressure change in its refrigerant coil, which affects the amount of warm airflow and refrigerant in the coil—moreover, freeze-up forms on the ac system. The best way to prevent this ac problem is to maintain the ac system regularly.

Wrap Up

Up to now, we’ve seen the causes of ice buildup on the ac and how to prevent them. The solid block frustrates your ac to a point where it’s difficult to perform regular functions. And that problem escalates to you, the homeowner! But with the above tips, you can bypass the ice buildup on your own.

Unless it’s a critical problem to deal with, call an HVAC professional. Finally, keep checking your ac frequently as it may help you avoid the ice buildup issue early enough.