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Evaporator Coil Freeze: Why It’s a Problem and How to Solve It

ice-cubesOne of the problems that can trouble an air conditioner is when the evaporator coil—the indoor coil of the system—freezes over with ice. When people see this happen to their air conditioners, they may assume it means the ACs are working too hard and creating excess cool air. But coil freeze isn’t a sign of an AC that’s working too hard. Usually, it means the evaporator coil isn’t able to cool enough.

We know that sounds confusing, but we’ll explain below. Evaporator coil freeze is a major problem that will likely require you to call for professional AC repair in Clearwater, FL, and we want to help you understand what may be going on.

The Cause of Coil Freeze

As we mentioned above, coil freeze occurs because the coil is losing the ability to cool down the air. The evaporator contains refrigerant returning from the outdoor unit where it has released heat and then passed through a pressure release valve that further drops its temperature so it’s below freezing when it moves through the evaporator coil. The blower in the HVAC system sends warm air across the coil, which causes the cold refrigerant to evaporate. This evaporation absorbs heat into the coil, which cools down the air around the coil while raising the temperature of the refrigerant below freezing. 

If the coil cannot absorb enough heat, it leaves the refrigerant below freezing. This causes the water moisture in the air to turn to ice along the coil, which will continue to develop. 

There are multiple sources for the coil failing to absorb enough heat. These include:

  • Problems with the blower fan
  • A clogged air filter restricting the amount of warm air crossing the coil
  • Refrigerant leaks
  • Dirt and grime on the coil’s surface

Why This Is a Problem

The frozen coil is a problem for two reasons:

  • Ice further hampers the coil’s ability to absorb heat and that means the ice will continue to form over the coil. When the coil is fully frozen over, the air conditioner will not be able to provide any cooling at all.
  • The underlying issue that caused the coil freeze must be addressed. If loss of refrigerant has caused the coil freeze, the entire air conditioner is in jeopardy of failure. We caution people that one of the earliest signs of refrigerant leaks is when ice forms on the coil. 

Solving It

This is the easiest part—at least on your end. All you have to do is call our technicians. It’s important to let experts look into the AC to locate the underlying cause of why the coil froze so we can fix it. We’ll also defrost the coil to help the system get back to normal operation.

Please don’t attempt to scrape off the ice on the coil yourself! This won’t solve the actual problem, and you may damage or puncture the coil. You can shut the AC off to let the ice melt on its own, but it’s best to leave the work to our technicians. 

Experience the Balanced Air, Inc. difference! We’ve served the Tampa Bay Area since 1988.

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