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The Problems With Ice on an Air Conditioner

frozen-acA common question that professional HVAC technicians hear is, “Should there be ice on my air conditioner’s coils?” The answer is no, but we understand why people are confused about whether this is normal or not.

After all, the air pushed out of the vents in an air conditioning system feels like it’s chilled, as if it were run across ice. It’s a quick jump from that thought to believing that ice must have some role in air conditioning a space, or at least that ice is a normal byproduct of the cooling process.

It isn’t! In fact, ice along the indoor coils of an air conditioner (the evaporator coils) is a warning sign of a problem. It might be a minor issue. Or it could be a potential catastrophe that will eventually require replacing the whole air conditioning system. We recommend you call for our professional repair service to look into your air conditioning system in Fort Worth, TX to see what needs to be done.

Please Don’t Scrape Off the Ice!

This is a first instinct you may have when you see ice forming on the coils. Using a tool to scrape the ice off won’t help the problem because it only addresses a symptom, not the actual cause. This may also cause damage to the coil. After a professional has fixed the underlying problem that caused the ice to form, they will use safe defrosting methods to remove the ice.

Ice Forms When the Evaporator Coils Aren’t Absorbing Enough Heat

The reason ice starts to appear along the evaporator coils is because the cold refrigerant moving through them isn’t drawing enough ambient heat from the air to warm up past freezing. An air conditioner works by evaporating cold refrigerant to absorb heat from the air, which cools the air that is then sent into the ventilation system. But if the coils can’t draw enough heat, the cold coils will cause air moisture to turn to ice. And when there’s ice on the coils, it becomes even harder for the coils to absorb heat—leading to a cycle of more and more ice building up until the AC can’t provide any cooling.

Why would the coils lose heat absorption in the first place?

  • The air conditioner has a refrigerant leak. The less refrigerant in the coils, the less heat absorption, and that means the refrigerant that’s still left will remain too cold. If a refrigerant leak isn’t fixed, the compressor will eventually fail.
  • There isn’t enough warm air entering the AC cabinet and passing over the evaporator coils. This might be due to a clogged air filter that has been left in place for too long. (We recommend changing it every one to three months.) It could also be a faulty blower fan not drawing in enough warm air through the return vents and then sending it over the coil.
  • The coil is covered with dirt, grime, mildew, or mold. All three insulate the coil, reducing heat absorption.

Make the right choice when you see iced-over coils and call our technicians. We won’t be happy with any job we do until we’ve done it to your satisfaction.

Rely on Frymire Home Services in Dallas and the Fort Worth Area—A Higher Degree of Comfort!

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