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How Do I Keep My Air Conditioner From Freezing Up?

You know something is wrong with your air conditioner if you see signs of ice or frost on the cooling system (especially refrigerant lines).

Your air conditioner was designed to keep you cool, not itself.

Fortunately, there are signs you can look out for and prevent this from happening to you. This article will tell you everything you need to know about:

  • Iced-air conditioners
  • What causes freezing in air conditioners
  • How to prevent freezing in air conditioners

Why Is My Air Conditioner Freezing Up?- The Science Behind It.

There is science at work behind the whole process.

Don’t worry, we won’t bore you death.

Scientists call it the Joule-Thomson Effect– The reason why your air conditioner freezes up.

The Joule-Thomson effect is a law in physics that states that if the environmental factors of an ideal gas are kept constant, it will expand as the pressure declines. When this happens, you’ll find the temperature drastically drops.

Understanding Joule-Thomson’s Effect is crucial to grasping how air conditioners function. Your air conditioner cools air by passing it over a special fluid substance called the refrigerant. The refrigerant undergoes expansion for it to cool down and absorb warmth from atmospheric air.

The refrigerant is then carried out of your home, and into the cooling unit. Here, it’s allowed to cool, its pressure decreases, and as a result, the temperature falls too. The process goes on and on until all the air in your room is cooled.

If the process is disrupted, your condenser will cool more than it has to. Within a couple of days, your air conditioner will start freezing up inside.

You now understand why your air conditioner is getting iced up. Next, you’ll learn what exactly is disrupting your air conditioner’s cooling process.

My Air Conditioner Is Freezing Up Inside- The Culprits Behind This

I’m sure you now know that your refrigerant has a direct bearing on this problem. If not, please go through the brief scientific description above.

In simple terms, something is expanding your refrigerant more than it has to. When this happens, the air conditioner coils freeze.

1. Limited airflow

Let the air conditioner take in as much as air as possible for cooling- This is what it was built to do. If something is restricting airflow into your air conditioner, air will not be blown over the cooled refrigerant in the evaporator coils. As a result, the refrigerant will start absorbing the heat from the air around it. Gradually, the air inside and around your air conditioner will cool down until your air conditioner freezes from the inside.

Note: There are a couple of things that could be limiting your air conditioner’s airflow. Start by checking the filters. Dirt and debris may have clogged the filters (This is why owners are advised to check on their filters and replace them (if needed) at least once a month).

Next, make sure the supply registers are always open. If you have to shut them to save on energy, then don’t close all of them. Make sure at least ⅔ of them are open.

Next, check if your AC’s fan is working as it’s supposed to. The fan is responsible for sucking and driving air into the air conditioner for cooling. A squeaky or slow fan could be why your window air conditioner is freezing up.

2. Low refrigerant levels

You need to understand that the pressure inside your air conditioner is constantly low to maintain the refrigerant’s coolness.

If your air conditioner’s refrigerant levels are low, the low pressure within the air conditioner will cause the remaining amount to expand. As the refrigerant expands, it gets colder until your air conditioner coils freeze up.

Note: Your air conditioner’s refrigerant levels should last it through its lifetime- This is because refrigerants never get depleted. If your refrigerant levels are low, then there must be a leak on the evaporator (refrigerant) lines. Make sure your technician seals the leaks before topping your air conditioner’s refrigerant supply.

This should be one of many things the technician does during a checkup. If you live in Phoenix, Arizona, the most popular air conditioning company is American Home Water and Air. Learn more about it here.

3. Busted Thermostat

Thermostats are devices that allow for the automatic regulation of air conditioners. They’re responsible for taking your room’s temperature and instructing your air conditioner when to cool your room.

A busted thermostat will force your air conditioner to work harder than it needs to- This forces your air conditioner to suck in more air (even when it’s already cool).

Cool air will expand the refrigerant, drop its temperature, and freeze up your air conditioner’s coils.

4. Drainage Issues

When your room’s warm air is sucked in and passed over the evaporator coils, not only is air-cooled, but its moisture is also removed by condensation. The cooled condensed air is then supposed to flow out of the air conditioner and onto a drainage pan. However, if the drainage system is flawed or clogged, then the cool and condensed water will accumulate up to the evaporator (refrigerant) lines and start freezing because of the low temperatures there.

To fix, make sure your air conditioner is slightly tilted up (front side higher than the back)- This will ensure that the condensed water flows out through the drainage hole.

What To Do If you notice your air conditioner is freezing up

  • Quickly turn off your air conditioner to prevent further damage
  • Wait for the air conditioner to unfreeze before checking the parts we’ve talked about (You can speed up the melting process using a blow dryer)
  • If your air conditioner is still freezing up after all these attempts, then call in your HVAC technician