After a tiring day out in summer heat, nothing beats the feeling of a cool breeze from the AC. You adjust the thermostat and wait to be soothed by the subtle hum of the air conditioner. But wait! Why the air coming from the air conditioning unit doesn’t feel any colder than an overhead fan?
Suspicious, right? Well, probably not. There are loads of reasons that can cause your air conditioner to blow warm air, like a frozen AC unit.
To unfreeze a frozen unit, you need to melt the ice buildup on the AC coils. You can also turn the fan on to melt the ice buildup faster and unfreeze your AC.
Air conditioner freezing can look like an alarming issue, but surprisingly it’s easy enough to deal with on your own.
Here’s how you can quickly fix your freezing air conditioning unit and keep yourself cool this summer.
What Causes an AC Unit to Freeze?
Air conditioners are a standard appliance in many households. They might not seem much at first glance, but in fact, they are increasingly high-tech machines. And when they freeze up, they need fixing.
A frozen air conditioner is not surprising and can happen a lot during the summers.
1. Poor Airflow
Due to insufficient airflow, the evaporator coils of the AC freeze as there isn’t enough heat to absorb from its surroundings. A balanced airflow maintains the temperature of the coils and prevents freezing of the AC unit.
If the temperature of the evaporator coil drops below the freezing point, the moisture in the air starts gathering upon these coils. That leads to ice buildup on your air conditioner, causing it to freeze.
Possible reasons behind poor airflow are clogged vents, dirty air filter, return grills, AC lines, etc.
2. Damaged Blower Motor
The built-in blower motor evenly circulates the cool air inside the air conditioner. When the cool air stays trapped inside the unit, it becomes denser and can damage the internals of the appliance.
Not to mention, a damaged blower motor disturbs the cooling cycle of the AC, which in turn freezes the refrigerant.
3. Low Refrigerant Levels
The role of a refrigerant is to accumulate all the indoor heat of the house and compress it into a high-pressure liquid. The liquid is then converted back into a gaseous state by the unit’s other components.
This process is repeated continuously to maintain a low temperature in the house. However, if there’s a refrigerant leak or the level of this chemical compound drops significantly, the conversion cycle gets disturbed. As a result, the evaporator coil freezes, and so does the AC.
How to Tell if AC is Frozen?
There are always signs, sometimes many, that indicate AC freezing, like ice buildup, hissing, or bubbling noise. While you can notice some symptoms right away, a few can be tricky to catch on.
A failsafe way to determine if something is wrong with your AC is to check the refrigerant line pipe. To do so, simply check for ice buildup on the tube connecting the outdoor unit and the wall.
You can also check your evaporator coil to tell if the AC has frozen or not. That can be a little tricky as you would need to open the panel of your air conditioner. However, refrain from touching the internals of the indoor AC unit if you’re not well versed with its mechanism.
In such cases calling for an expert would be much wiser to avoid any possible damage resulting in a busted AC unit.
Apart from these, you should also observe if your air conditioner is showing any of these signs.
- Your AC system isn’t reaching the desired thermostat setting
- The air blasting from the air registers feels warm
- Your electric bill is higher than usual
- Water leaking around the AC
- Condensation and moisture around the air handler
What to Do When Your AC Unit Freezes?
Don’t panic! That’s right. The first thing you should do when you discover a frozen AC is to stay calm. A frozen AC issue is easy to fix. All you need to do is turn off the thermostat from cool and set the AC’s indoor fan to blow warm air.
Warm air will help to melt the air, prevent further damage and allow you to act on the next step. Check the air filter and drainage pipe for any problems when the ice completely melts off.
If you don’t feel confident enough to tinker with the AC’s frozen coils, you can also seek assistance from an AC repair service.
How to Unfreeze AC Unit Fast
Fixing a frozen AC unit might be more simple than you could imagine. By following the below given step-by-step guide, you can defrost your air conditioner in no time.
Step 1: Turn Off the Thermostat
It’s a thumb rule to turn off any appliance that doesn’t seem to work correctly, right? The same goes for the frozen air conditioning unit as well. Turn off the thermostat when you notice your AC unit is freezing.
Now turn the fan on to warm up the ice around the unit. Turning the air conditioner’s fan on will keep enough warm air flowing through it. This will increase the room temperature and boost the defrosting process.
However, refrain from using a hair dryer for melting ice as it can cause a messy refrigerant leak and further damage. Therefore, instead of trying to rush the process, it’s advisable to be patient.
Step 2: Check the Drainage
Now check the condensate pan to ensure that the water is draining properly. Overflowing the drain pan can cause potential drainage problems. Hence, you should check for water on the floor near the AC unit.
If you don’t see the water draining from the drain pan to the condensate drain line. It’s because the pipe may be clogged due to the accumulation of dust and debris. A clogged condensate drain hinders water flow, resulting in messy water leakage problems.
Furthermore, a clogged pipe is also a possible cause of frozen ACs. In case you find it, then voila, you’ve also found the root of the issue.
Step 3: See If the Filter Has Flogged
Clogged air filter ranks high on every list when it comes to frozen air conditioner issues. Not to mention, a dirty air filter significantly lowers the air conditioning unit’s efficiency. Hence, it’s advisable to regularly clean your air conditioner’s dirty filter and replace it every 6 months with a new filter.
Did you know that even a thin layer of dust can put your AC unit at risk of being frozen? Unlike other maintenance tasks, cleaning an air filter is the easiest. You simply need to vacuum off the accumulated dust and then run it through hot water.
However, even after cleaning, if you cannot see the light pass through the dirty filter, you need to change it. While buying a new filter, make sure that you thoroughly check its size. Believe it or not, an ill-adjusted filter can also cause your AC to freeze.
Step 4: Clean the Coils, If Moist
Once the ice surrounding the evaporator coil thaws, take a clean cloth and wipe it off. And while you’re at it, dust off any dirt and debris you find near the coil. You can also use a vacuum cleaner on the unit to thaw the evaporator coils.
Step 5: Turn It Back On
If you have unclogged the drain pipe and switched the filters, you can turn on your air conditioner again. However, if no cold air comes out of the unit despite changing its filters, you might need to call a professional then.
How Long Does It Take for an AC to Unfreeze?
The process to unfreeze the air conditioner can take up a few hours if there’s only a little bit of ice accumulation. However, it can also take over 24 hours in extreme cases, depending on the room temperature.
The time variable in the defrosting process is highly dependent on the extent of ice gathering and the blower fan capacity. The greater the fan’s efficiency, the faster the ice will melt. Similarly, the greater the buildup of ice, the longer it’ll take to melt.
However, even if the ice melts fast, you need to watch for possible water damage.
How Can You Prevent Your AC Unit from Freezing?
Prevention is better than cure, and your freezing AC problems are no exception. Air conditioners are designed to last a few years at the very least, but yearly inspection goes a long way to extend their lifespan.
Since these high-tech appliances are frequently used in summers, spring is the best time to check their functioning. You can try the comprehensive AC repair packages offered by your local HVAC services. Apart from it, you can also carry out regular cleaning of the air conditioning unit.
These preventive measures make sure that your filters are functioning properly. It also eliminates the risks of leaks, coils damage, and complicated machinery problems. Through regular maintenance practices, you can detect refrigerant leaks early on.
Should You Call for an Expert If Your AC Unit Freezes?
Freezing air conditioners during hot days is a common issue. And if you catch on to it quickly, it’s a relatively easy and cheap fix. You need to change the filter or get rid of a possible clog in the drainage pipe.
The trick is to turn off a frozen air conditioner to minimize potential damage. Furthermore, it would be best if you looked out for any refreezing issues after you’ve tried the suggested fixes. It’s essential that you closely observe your air conditioner for 2-3 weeks before calling for repair service.
Even if you seek professional help, taking some early preventive measures will save you loads of money.
How to Unfreeze AC Unit Fast FAQs
1. Why does my AC Freeze Up so Fast?
Faulty maintenance is a possible reason for faster refreezing issues in air conditioners. It’s essential that you dutifully clean the filters and replace them when necessary. You should also check for any clogged condensate drain pan.
If your AC continues to freeze despite replacing the filters and cleaning the coils, it might be due to machine malfunction.
2. Will Frozen AC Fix Itself?
No, a frozen AC will not fix itself. You either have to fix it yourself or call a professional for help. However, fixing a frozen air conditioner is not a major task; you can do it yourself as well.
3. Can I Pour Hot Water on the Frozen Air Conditioner?
No, you cannot pour hot water on a frozen air conditioner. Pouring hot water on the iced coils can ultimately damage them. Furthermore, it might also lead to a terrible refrigerant leak.
A refrigerant leak is a complicated issue and can incur expensive bills if not addressed quickly.
4. Can I Turn on the Heat to Defrost AC?
No, you cannot turn on the heat to defrost AC. Instead, you can turn on the blower fan of the AC to boost the melting process of the ice.
Turning on heat will result in the expansion of the metal coils. However, since they are surrounded by ice, part of these coils are already shrunken. So, when you turn the heat on, the other part of the coil, which isn’t covered in ice, begins to expand.
Due to the action of these dual forces, the coil can break, which will cause a refrigerant leak. Therefore, you should just let the ice melt gradually rather than trying anything like switching the thermostat from cool to warm.
5. Why does AC Freeze Up at Night?
The reason behind the freezing of your air conditioner can be due to blocked airflow, drainage, or a possible refrigerant leak.
However, if your AC only freezes up at night, it’s a different story altogether. There’s a chance that the underlying cause of this problem is a mechanical failure rather than a typical freeze issue.
You should contact a certified technician to fix it quickly in either case. Prolonged delays in such a scenario will only aggravate the damage and result in an expensive repair bill.