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A frosted air conditioner is a rare sight for most homeowners, especially on hot days. While frost formation is a strange occurrence, it is normal for any air conditioner. Does frost build up on your AC as it runs? In most instances, this could be a sign of an underlying issue.
The culprit often lies with the refrigeration—since your AC extracts heat from the home interior and the surrounding moisture condenses. Consequently, a small portion of this moisture freezes on your evaporator coil.
On the one hand, a small frost buildup amount is not as harmful. On the other hand, too much of anything can be terrible. Heavy ice and frost buildup may have severe consequences for your AC. In such cases, hire our emergency heating and AC repair service experts in Dallas, TX, to diagnose the frost buildup and develop appropriate solutions. Below is everything you should know about ice buildup on your air conditioner.
How Do Air Conditioners Work?
It is important first to understand that air conditioning units are supposed to be cold, and the appearance of frost should seem like a natural reaction to that. An AC relies on the refrigerant to perform its task accordingly. However, few people remain largely unaware of the exact nature of the interaction.
Firstly, the refrigerant changes from gaseous to liquid form. It is then subjected to heavy pressure before going into the evaporator coil. Next, the valve releases a particular amount into the evaporator coils, where the refrigerant reverses its form to liquid. Simultaneously, it attracts heat from the nearing atmosphere as it cools it. The cold air is then blown inside your home’s atmosphere via the ducts to cool the air.
What Causes Frost Buildup on An Air Conditioner?
Diagnosing any AC issue typically requires an emergency heating and AC repair service expert with experience and the expertise for the job. However, if you are looking for a quick diagnosis for frost buildups, below are some of the common causes and possible explanations:
1. Restricted/ Reduced/Weak Airflow
The major cause of ice buildup on an AC is restricted airflow over the evaporator coil. Restricted airflow to the interior unit results in temperatures dropping below freezing, causing the refrigerant coil to freeze. Unfortunately, most people only notice the frost buildup on the outside.
However, if you notice an ice block on the outside, then the interior is also experiencing frost buildup due to restricted airflow. Regardless, an emergency heating and AC repair service expert should help you resume the normal airflow over your evaporator coil.
What Should You Do In Case of Restricted Airflow?
At One Hour Air Conditioning and Heating, we don’t advise DIY AC repairs. However, as you wait for our emergency heating and AC repair service expert, below are some minor tasks you should attempt:
- Change the air filter. Dirty air filters typically block air from getting back to the interior unit
- Open closed vents in dormant rooms. Contrary to popular belief, closing supply vents in unused rooms won’t save you costs. On the flip side, it may cause several challenges, such as a frozen interior unit
- Unblock return grills. Move any objects blocking return vents blocking air from returning to the interior unit.
Additionally, have an AC expert inspect your blower. If the blower’s motor malfunctions in the interior unit and fails to pull sufficient air, the coil will freeze. Also, have the expert clean your evaporator coil. Unfortunately, dirt insulates your evaporator coil from heat, hindering the coils from absorbing heat from the air being passed over it by the blower motor.
2. Low Refrigerant
A low refrigerant level is among the most prevalent cause of frozen evaporator coils. When the refrigerant levels in the AC system are low, the pressure reduces, resulting in the evaporator coil becoming extremely cold. Therefore, when returning air touches the evaporator coil, moisture/humidity from the air forms drops on the coil and freezes quickly. This process goes on until the evaporator coil freezes up.
Additionally, if your refrigerant levels are low, chances are you have a refrigerant leak. As such, you will need an emergency heating and AC repair service expert who will help you pinpoint the leaks and repair them before adding in more refrigerants.
Other causes of frost buildup on your air conditioner include;
- Dust on the coils
- Clogs in the filter
- Faulty fan motors
- Blocked drain pipes
- Low outdoor temperatures
- Setting your thermostat too low at night.
Signs That Your Air Conditioner (Evaporator Coil) Is Frozen
Apart from the visible sign of ice on the air conditioner’s interior, here is how to tell if your AC is frozen:
The AC is blowing warm air. Surprisingly, warm air is a clear indication of a potential AC freeze. If you go near your AC vents and feel warm air, there is a high chance that your AC parts have frozen up and can’t cool your home properly
Check your air filters. Dirty air filters block the flow of clean air into the AC. This causes the unit to blow warm air. A dirty air filter points to a possible frozen AC
Inspect the coils for dirt. Just as a dirty air filter can interrupt airflow, so can dirty condenser or evaporator coils
Leaks. If the air conditioners’ parts have frozen, the excess condensation the air conditioner produces cannot drain completely, resulting in some form of leaking from the AC. Inspect the surrounding areas for signs of water damage.
Other signs may include condensation on the condensate drain surface and condensation on the air handler indoor surface. If you notice any ice buildup, you may want to hire an emergency heating and AC repair service expert to assist with thawing.
What to Do and Not to Do In Case of an Ice Buildup
What to Do
- Turn off your air conditioner immediately when you spot ice buildup. This is to help it thaw out naturally
- Ensure the air filter is clean. If not, replace it with a cleaner/newer one
- Allow the ice buildup to melt on its own. This may take up to 5 hours, depending on how severe the buildup is
- Once it has thawed out completely and with a new filter installed, switch the unit back on to check if it is working well
- If not, contact an emergency heating and AC repair service professional in Dallas, TX, for quick solutions.
What Not to Do
- If the AC is frozen, it is advisable to cease usage immediately. Running a frozen air conditioner risks burning up the motor or damaging the compressor. Such parts are very costly to replace
- Avoid pouring hot water over the condenser or evaporator coils to unthaw them. This is to avoid the coil from cracking as a result of thermal shock
- Avoid picking or scraping the ice off the evaporator coil or air conditioner. Attempting to do so doesn’t solve the issue or speed up the thawing. In addition, you highly risk damaging your air conditioning unit.
However, if you accidentally try one of these, call our emergency heating and AC repair service in Dallas, TX, as soon as possible.
Adverse Effects of Ice/Frost Buildup on Your AC
Below are some of the issues that an ice buildup or heavy frost can cause for your air conditioner:
1. Poor Cooling Performance
Ice buildup-caused blockages tend to affect your AC’s overall performance. You may notice your AC struggling to maintain your indoor temperatures. Regardless of how low you set your thermostat, it may be possible to ensure interior comfort. Poor AC performance is one of the most common residential AC emergencies our emergency heating and AC repair service contractors deal with.
2. Water Leaks
Water leaks are common side effects of heavy frost or ice buildup. The AC has a unique drip tray capturing water during condensation from hot hair and draining it outside the AC unit. Sizable melting units may overwhelm the drip tray easily, leading to overflowing water that manifests as leaks.
Water leaks from ACs threaten your home’s structural integrity and lead to property damage. Contact our emergency heating and AC repair service professionals for quick, effective solutions if you notice any water pools around your air conditioner.
3. Insufficient Airflow
Sufficient airflow is important for your AC’s performance. The condenser and evaporator coil rely on a steady airflow source to function normally. Ice and frost can block air from flowing via the coils, hindering them from functioning normally. If you notice weaker airflow from your vents, call an emergency heating and AC repair service expert in Dallas, TX, to check for frost buildup or other issues.
4. Increased Energy Usage
In case you notice an unexplainable increase in your recurring energy bills, chances are your air conditioner has a major role to play in it. As the air conditioning unit struggles to keep your atmosphere cool and cozy, it will increase your energy consumption to compensate for the extra effort. This translates to increased energy consumption.
Watch out for sudden spikes in energy bills, especially during the winter. Regardless, our emergency heating and AC repair service experts can help check for other possible causes of suddenly increased energy bills.
5. Frequent Shutdowns
Failure to handle any frost buildup issues in their early stages exposes your air conditioner to unexpected shutdowns. Air conditioners typically shut down automatically in the event of overheating caused by blockages resulting from frost buildups.
Unexpected frequent shutdowns can inconvenience you heavily. They also expose your system to eventual tear and wear even faster. This translates to costly repairs and replacements, which you can avoid as early as possible. To avoid such long-term damages, tackle ice buildup issues at the very first instance with the aid of our emergency heating and AC repair service contractors in Dallas, TX.
6. Damaged Coils
Exposing your coils to the ice for prolonged durations increases their damage. Ice contracts and expands naturally as it grows and melts. Consequently, this constant contraction and expansion impact your coil’s aluminum fins, leading them to break apart or crack.
Additionally, the actual aluminum or copper lines making up your condenser and evaporator coils may crack under stress, resulting in refrigerant leaks. Trying to unthaw the condenser or evaporator coils increases the chances of damage.
Our emergency heating and AC repair service professionals typically do not advise attempting any complicated process to thaw ice buildup on your air conditioners. Generally, proper maintenance is key to avoiding frost or ice buildup on your AC.
Why Should You Hire an Expert for the Job?
Most homeowners get caught up attempting DIY repairs that they ignore the possible damages. Additionally, some opt to hire less-qualified emergency heating and AC repair service guys as a means to cut costs. Either of these ways may guarantee cutting corners and shoddy work.
At One Hour Air Conditioning and Heating of Dallas, TX, we recommend hiring a qualified emergency heating and AC repair service expert for any ice buildup or AC damage.
For starters, a licensed emergency heating and AC repair service expert possesses the technical know-how to ensure quality services and avoid causing further damages. Secondly, a well-equipped emergency heating and AC repair service contractor uses state-of-the-art repair tools and equipment to ensure safe repair.
In addition, an insured emergency heating and AC repair service expert performs their job effectively while minimizing error at all costs. However, a licensed contractor covers the damages accordingly in the unfortunate event of an issue arising from the repair.
More importantly, choosing an expert who keeps time is elemental to ensure fast repairs. At One Hour Air Conditioning and Heating, we provide emergency AC repairs and alternative services. We answer your calls in the shortest time possible. We repair all kinds of AC emergencies, from frost buildups to unexpected breakdowns. Call our emergency heating and AC repair service contractors from One Hour Air Conditioner & Heating of Dallas for quick, effective, and reliable repair services in Dallas, TX.