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Why Is There Ice on My Air Conditioner?

frozen-acIf you’ve noticed the indoor coils for your air conditioning system have ice or frost on them, you’re right to be concerned. Often, homeowners ignore the appearance of ice on parts of an AC because they imagine that it’s part of the normal cooling cycle.

Cool air comes from an AC, so it probably has ice somewhere in it. This, however, is wrong. An air conditioner is a type of refrigerant system, and just your refrigerator, you don’t want frost developing on it. Ice is a sign of a problem and a reason to call for service for your air conditioning in Clearwater, FL from our team.

Why Ice Might Appear on an AC

So what has gone wrong with your air conditioner that’s caused ice to develop? There are different causes, but the basic problem is that the refrigerant in the evaporator coil is remaining too cold rather than warming up as it passes through the coil.

When the refrigerant enters the indoor coil, it should be around 40°F. Warm air passes over the coil, and evaporation occurs so that heat enters the coil, warming the refrigerant while cooling the air around the coil. The refrigerant changes phase as it warms up and leaves the coil. If something prevents the refrigerant from absorbing heat and becoming warmer, the chill along the evaporator coil will cause the moisture in the air to freeze along it. The ice problem will only worsen, because the ice further blocks heat absorption. If left with repair, the ice will soon entirely block the coil and the AC won’t be able to cool the air.

Here are some of the reasons the refrigerant isn’t warming up:

  • Refrigerant loss: An AC uses the same amount of refrigerant for its entire service life—unless there are leaks. If there’s less refrigerant in the evaporator coil, there’s less heat absorption, the remaining refrigerant stays too cold—bam! Ice. Refrigerant leaks endanger the entire air conditioner, so make sure you call for help right away when you see ice.
  • Clogged air filter: The trouble may be that there’s not enough warm air moving over the coil in the first place. This can happen because the filter on the AC is so congested with dust and lint that the blower fan can’t pull in enough warm air. To prevent this, always change the filter every one to three months.
  • Dirty evaporator coil: Any layer of dust, grime, or mold on the evaporator coil serves as an insulator. This prevents the coil from absorbing enough heat from the air, leading to ice. Please don’t attempt to clean the coil on your own or scrape the ice off. Coil cleaning and defrosting must be done using special chemicals—let the pros handle it.

Move Fast Before Your Icy AC Becomes a Dicey AC

No matter the cause of the ice on your air conditioner, the system is at risk of failing to cool your home. If the refrigerant is low, you might have the compressor fail on you! Call on our technicians 24/7 whenever you need an AC repair. We’ll treat you like family!

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

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