What to Do if There's Ice on Your Air Conditioner Unit

[fa icon="calendar"] July 20, 2015 / by Home Services Expert

woman_shruggingYou've come to think of your central air conditioner as a virtual workhorse – humming along and running at a steady pace all summer long to keep you cool.

But if you spot ice on your outdoor air conditioner unit – whether it's spotty and scattered or thick and widespread – there's only one thing to do: Call Experts In Your Home immediately. Time is of the essence, so we don't even want you to take the time to look up our phone number. It's 530-894-0404.

Continuing to run your air conditioner in the presence of ice buildup can seriously damage the system. We repeat: Continuing to run your air conditioner in the presence of ice buildup can seriously damage the system. So turn off your air conditioner so that it can begin to defrost until an Experts In Your Home technician arrives at your home to inspect and repair your air conditioner.

Our customers know that we're not alarmists, so trust us when we say that ice on your air conditioner indicates that there is a potentially serious problem with your workhorse. While a small amount of condensation and water is normal, especially on scorching hot days, ice buildup is your air conditioner's way of sending out a cry for help.

Still, try to keep your cool; this is another serious problem that our Experts can rectify. But ignoring it – and the underlying condition that caused it – will only make the situation (and probably the repair bill) worse.

Certain conditions trigger ice buildup

Without inspecting your air conditioner up-close, there is no definitive way to explain why ice has formed on it – even on a hot and sunny day when it seems illogical for ice to form in the first place. But there are certain triggering factors that will top our inspection list. They include:

  • Poor air flow, which often is caused by (you guessed it) a dirty filter or excess dirt on the evaporator coil. Just as often, ice buildup can be traced to a malfunctioning evaporator fan, which keeps the coils above the freezing mark so that condensation on the coils doesn't freeze. A fan that spins too slowly or not at all can cause the condensation to freeze, which in turn can cause ice buildup on your air conditioner.

  • A low coolant level or a coolant leak, either of which can cause pressure to drop in the evaporator coil, thereby causing excess condensation to freeze and turn to ice.

  • Cool outdoor temperatures, or those generally below 60 degrees. Air conditioners often don't function well in cool temperatures, and freeze-ups can occur especially if an outdoor unit is not shielded from the elements.

Rest assured that an Experts In Your Home technician will be able to tell in no time why there is ice on your air conditioner, repair it and then provide some preventive tips so that the problem doesn't reoccur.

Chip away at future ice problems

In the meantime, some general guidance might help:

  • Schedule your yearly air conditioner tune-up with Experts In Your Home. We follow a detailed maintenance checklist, knowing that a clean air conditioner usually results in a smooth running air conditioner that is far less prone to malfunctioning.

  • Check your filter every month and replace it when it's dirty. If you run your air conditioner all day, almost every day during the summer, you might have to change the filter every month. Always keep a spare filter or two on hand so that you can change the filter promptly, without risking a delay caused by your next trip to the store.

  • Maintain a 2-foot “clear zone” around your outdoor unit. Plants, flowers and shrubs can go grow quickly during the summer, so make a special point of cutting them back regularly so that they don't impede air flow to your unit.

  • Turn on your air conditioner only when it's warmer than 60 degrees outdoors – and 65 degrees would be better. Remember that night-time is a good time to ventilate your home by opening the windows in your home, running a whole-house fan (if you have one) or capitalizing on cool air streaming through open windows by using table and floor fans. There is some trial and error involved in this process, and an Experts In Your Home technician would be happy to make ventilation recommendations for you.

When it comes to your air conditioner -- your workhorse -- remember that our Experts are only one phone call away, especially if you discover ice forming on it. We'll jump right in the saddle and harness this serious problem – and ensure that your air conditioner enjoys a smooth ride all summer long.

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