What causes an air conditioner to ice up? Air conditioners are commonly used in almost every kind of setting. They are used in residential spaces, in commercial spaces, and for industrial purposes. There are different kinds of air conditioners that can be designed and used for different purposes.
Once upon a time, the air conditioner was widely regarded as a luxury. However, as prices have tumbled, more and more people have begun to use air conditioners regularly. Around 97% of the homes throughout the south and roughly 65% of the homes in the western parts of the country have some sort of a cooling system installed.
The Main Components
But, how do air conditioners really work? Before we talk about what causes an air conditioner to ice up or freeze up, it’s important to understand the different components within the air conditioner. There are five main components that you should know about: refrigerant, compressor, condenser coil, expansion valve, and the evaporator coil.
The refrigerant is a special fluid that operates on a closed loop and is designed to maintain the cooling throughout the air conditioner. It moves through the air conditioner’s tubes and the copper coils. On the other hand, the compressor is designed to pressurize the refrigerant and raise its temperature. This increases the temperature higher than the outdoor temperature.
The condenser coil is situated in the outdoor air conditioning unit. It provides high pressure and facilitates the transfer of heat to the outdoor air. The expansion valve is used before the refrigerant enters the evaporator coil. The valve depressurizes the refrigerant and cools it down. The last is the evaporator coil, which is incredibly important. It’s the point from where the air conditioner picks up the heat from your home. All of these components work together to provide cooling in your home.
Now that you know the basics of the air conditioning refrigeration cycle, we can move on to figuring out the different issues that arise. One of the most common problems that occurs is when your air conditioner freezes up in the middle of the summer. How can something that usually gets so hot, and is situated outdoors, begin to freeze?
The answer lies in a bit of physics, and a deep understanding of the mechanics and dynamics of the air conditioner. While it may seem ironic, it’s actually something that happens quite a lot. One of the most important things that you need to know is that your air conditioner requires warm air from the house to maintain the temperature. Consistent airflow is needed to keep the cold coils warm. The warm air is needed from the house to keep the coil cold and ensure that the temperature remains above freezing levels. Here are some common reasons that causes the air conditioner to freeze up.
What Causes An Air Conditioner To Ice Up?
Air Registers and Filters
Without the warm air, the coils would begin to freeze before the condensed water is drained away from the unit. The air registers play an important role in the freezing process. If the air registers are closed and you haven’t cleaned the air filters in a long while, there’s a big risk that air flow within the unit will be impeded. The dirty air filters can prevent the air from passing through smoothly, and this causes the unit to freeze up from the outside.
Another reason why your air conditioner might be freezing up is because of a lack of refrigerant. The refrigerant, known as the R22, is required to keep the air conditioner running smoothly. The R22 refrigerant has different physical properties at different temperature levels. Under normal circumstances, the refrigerant will continue passing smoothly while leaving a bit of condensation outdoors.
If the pressure changes in your system, the R22 might begin to act differently. As the warm and moist air from your house moves to the evaporator, the moisture will begin to condense, and will cause the coils to freeze. Over time, the ice will begin to act as an insulator, thus, preventing the smooth operation of the air conditioner. The R22 will also evaporate much faster.
Yet another reason for a blockage in the air conditioner, is a dirty condenser coil. Ice can obstruct the airflow in the system, so even if you notice a little bit of frost on the air conditioner, you need to take action and get it resolved right away. It can soon spiral out of control and it won’t take long before a solid block of ice is formed outdoors on the air conditioner.
You need to understand the proper reason as to why the coils can freeze. Apart from simply cooling the air inside your home, the air conditioner also works in dehumidifying the air. It pulls the water from the air, which is what causes condensation on the coils.
Usually, this doesn’t cause a problem, because the water droplets are usually dropped off in the drip pan. But, if there’s an overflow in the drip pan, it can cause the coils to become waterlogged and eventually freeze. Dirty coils will cause the coils to freeze because the top layer of dirt will prevent it from absorbing the water, and can eventually damage it. Before you realize it, a large block of ice will form on the outer unit. As mentioned above, the ice will act as an insulator, and prevent the air conditioner from working properly.
Damaged Blower Fan
The blower fan in your air conditioner is actually quite an important part of the component. The blower fan helps get the cold air where it needs to go and ensures that the warm air is allowed to escape. As the air begins to cool inside the air conditioner, it begins to get denser, and that reduces its ability to travel well. The blower fan is integral because it helps suck the air out from the unit and replaces the denser air.
In some cases, the blower fan might break, or it may sustain some internal damage. It’s recommended that you call a professional company to check on your air conditioner and determine the cause of the problem. The blower fan starts working as soon as you turn on the air conditioner, so if you notice the fan not starting up, you need to call a professional right away.
If you notice ice forming on top of the air conditioner, it’s imperative that you take action right away. Set up an appointment with a local company that offers HVAC repairs and get them to inspect your air conditioner. If you continue using the air conditioner while it’s freezing up, there’s a big chance that the water might clog some internal pipes, and that could eventually cost even more money in repairs.
If the AC continues freezing up, start by checking the air registers and by cleaning the filters. If that doesn’t work, you might want to call a professional. They will first check for the cause of the damage and then give you a quote for the repair work. Knowing what causes an air conditioner to ice up is important if you’re to get to the root of the problem and ensure it’s fixed asap! The above causes are just a few major reasons why your air conditioner might clog up.