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Is There Ice on Your AC? Here’s What Is Wrong

ice-on-an-acWe’re glad that you recognize something isn’t right with your home’s air conditioning system if you’ve noticed ice forming on it. A common misconception people have about ice on an AC is that it means the cooling system is working really well—so well that it’s creating ice. Or they may think the air conditioner uses ice to cool the air.

An air conditioning system doesn’t use ice to operate. It takes a large amount of energy to create ice (such as in your freezer), much more than would make it worthwhile as a home cooling option. An AC that’s working well will also not generate ice. An AC isn’t “creating” cold but removing heat, and when the air conditioner is working as it should, it won’t cause ice to form.

So what’s actually going on? There are several reasons to see ice developing on the AC.

The air conditioner has lost refrigerant

We know it sounds contradictory to say that less refrigerant causes ice to form. But refrigerant isn’t automatically a cold substance. It’s a chemical that switches between liquid and gas form. As the refrigerant moves through the indoor evaporator coil, it absorbs heat from the air and warms up as the air cools. If there’s less refrigerant in the coil, the remaining refrigerant won’t be able to draw enough heat to raise its temperature above freezing—and that means the coil surface will stay cold enough to turn condensate moisture into ice. Refrigerant leaks are serious issues, not just because of the ice, but because they will eventually cause a full system breakdown.

The indoor coil is dirty

The evaporator coil inside the AC can become covered with dust and mildew if the system doesn’t receive proper maintenance. This grime on the coil insulates it, making it harder to absorb heat and leaving the refrigerant too cold.

The air filter is clogged

Dirty air filters can cause numerous problems for air conditioning systems, and ice growth is one of them. The problem with the clogged air filter is that it doesn’t allow the blower to draw enough warm air through the return ducts and then across the evaporator coil. Once again, if the refrigerant in the coil can’t absorb enough heat to warm up, it will start to freeze water on its surface.

Broken blower fan

A clogged air filter will prevent the blower fan from pushing enough warm air from flowing across the evaporator coil—so a broken blower fan will cause the same issue, leading to ice development.

Solving the ice problem

First, don’t attempt to scrape the ice off! This doesn’t address the reason there’s ice in the first place, and you also risk damaging the metal of the coils and creating refrigerant leaks. You can shut the AC off to allow the ice to defrost, but this can lead to water overwhelming the condensate drain and leaking from the system, and it still won’t fix the underlying problem. Call our team for air conditioning repair in Katy, TX and we’ll have the icing trouble fixed right.

At AC Comfort, Your Comfort Is Our Business! Request service with us today.

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