No, there should not. Call us for air conditioning repairs in Katy, TX!
Oh, you’re still here? I hope you already called us—we should be there soon to fix what’s wrong with your air conditioner. We may even save you from having to replace it prematurely.
But since we’ve got you here, we can entertain you as you wait with an explanation of why ice on the AC is a Bad Thing.
Ice may seem normal for a cooling system—but it’s not
We’re glad you called us to investigate the ice on your air conditioner, because too often homeowners see frost on the coils of a cooling system and shrug it off. This does make some sense: the air coming from an AC is cold, ice is cold, so why shouldn’t one be connected to the other?
However, a central air conditioning system doesn’t use ice to lower the temperature of the air, which is a process called evaporative cooling. There are cooling systems called evaporative coolers (we install and service them) that use this process, but they contain water rather than ice.
What a standard central AC does to cool down a house is a different process, heat exchange. This means removing heat from one location and releasing it in another. A special chemical refrigerant is used as the heat transfer medium. It circulates through two sets of coils, one indoors and one outdoors, to absorb heat from the first location and then exhaust it in the other. When heat is removed from your indoor air, the air feels cooler.
Why ice may appear anyway
The reason ice may start to form along the indoor coil—and that’s the spot you’re most likely to see ice formation—is because something is wrong with the heat exchange process. The indoor coil isn’t absorbing enough heat to warm the refrigerant inside it. When this happens, the refrigerant stays below freezing, and the moisture along the coil turns to ice. The ice further lowers heat absorption, creating more ice. This continues until the whole coil is frozen over and there’s no heat exchange going on, and therefore no indoor coolin.
There are different reasons why the refrigerant in the coil isn’t absorbing enough heat to warm it.
- The AC has lost refrigerant to leaks. The less refrigerant, the less heat absorption, and the colder the refrigerant that’s still in the coil will stay. Refrigerant leaks put the entire air conditioning system in danger of breaking down.
- The coil has collected so much dirt and grime that it’s created in insulating layer slowing down heat absorption.
- The HVAC filter is so thickly clogged that not enough warm air is passing over the coil, allowing the refrigerant to stay too cold.
Please don’t try to scrape off the ice to “fix” the problem. This can potentially damage the coil, and most of the time won’t do anything to repair the root cause. When we get to you (that’s us ringing the doorbell now!) we’ll repair what’s wrong and then defrost the coil.