Four Common Causes For Icy Air Conditioners

Posted on: 26 October 2015

If your air conditioning unit is covered in ice and frost, that's a sign that there's something wrong with the unit. A frozen air conditioner won't cool efficiently, if at all. Ice accumulation in the air conditioner can even cause damage to the compressor inside. With so many internal components, there are a number of things that can cause problems like this. Here's a look at some of the most common sources of air conditioner freezing and tips to deal with them.

Insufficient Air Flow

If the intake filters on the air conditioning unit are dirty, it can cause clogs that prevent sufficient air flow into the system. When the air conditioner doesn't get sufficient air through the intake vents, it can't cycle the water properly. This leads to water sitting on the coils too long, which causes freezing. To avoid this problem, monitor the condition of the intake filters at all times. If you check them monthly throughout the summer, it should help you keep air flowing well. You should also check them any time you see signs of frost development on the air conditioner.

Another common cause of insufficient air flow in the air conditioner is obstructed air vents. If the vents themselves are blocked, it will keep the air conditioner from drawing in enough air. Make sure that the outside vents are clear of leaves and other obstructions. You'll also want to be sure that you don't have any furniture or carpeting blocking the inside vents.

Weak Fan Operation

The cool air produced by your air conditioner is pushed into the air ducts by a fan. The fan is located inside the outdoor air conditioning unit. If that fan is spinning slowly or the motor is weak, you won't get enough power behind the fan blades to force enough air into the ductwork. If the fan motor is burned out or seized, you won't get any air flow at all. Any time the cooled air is left to settle inside the air conditioning unit, you risk frost and ice development on the condenser coils.

Low Levels of Refrigerant

Every central air conditioning unit contains refrigerant that's used to absorb heat from the air that's drawn into the compressor. If there isn't enough refrigerant in the air conditioning system, it won't be able to draw enough of the heat out of the air before cycling it through. This means that the heat left in the air can cause condensation in the system, which will turn to ice when it comes in contact with the condenser coils.

If your air conditioner is low on coolant, it means that there's a leak in the system somewhere. Air conditioners don't consume refrigerant, so there's no other reason for the levels to be low. Your air conditioning repair technician can test the system for refrigerant to be sure that it's sufficient and can even locate and repair leaks for you.

Colder Outside Temperatures

If the temperature outside is colder than the air conditioner's limits, it can be problematic for your air conditioning system. The air conditioner cannot draw heat from the incoming air if it's too cold. For this reason, you may need to shut off the air conditioner when the temperatures are cooler outside. Otherwise, you'll end up with concentrated cold air inside the unit that's going to cause icing and frost on the coils.

The more proactive and attentive you are to the condition of your air conditioner, the less risk you'll have of encountering problems such as these. Luckily, when you're familiar with the most common causes of frost and ice in an air conditioner, you'll be better equipped to identify and address them before your air conditioner freezes up.

For more information, contact a local air conditioning repair company.