My Air Conditioner Is Frozen! What Happened?

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A frozen air conditioner is a common occurrence, but it is important for homeowners to understand not only how to get their air conditioner back up and running, but what has caused the problem in the first place. With a few simple steps, you can usually get your air conditioner back to keeping your home cool and comfortable, all without the need for an AC service call.

Is your air conditioner frozen? This can often be detected even before you notice an ice buildup. Simply place your hand next to one of the return vents and see if cool air is coming out. If the air doesn’t feel cool or if it feels like the air flow is diminished, you’re likely facing a frozen air conditioner.

If your air conditioner is frozen, the following steps should help you get it thawed.

• First, turn off the AC in order to prevent damage to the compressor as well as wasted energy.
• It can take several hours for the air conditioner to fully thaw, but you can decrease the amount of time you have to wait by using a blow drier to warm up the evaporator coil. It is also helpful to just run the fan without using the compressor.
• Check the condensate drain to make sure it isn’t blocked and empty the drain pan.

Once your air conditioner is completely thawed, you can turn it back on to cool. It is important to understand what can cause your air conditioner to freeze so that you can avoid future problems. Some common causes include:

A dirty air filter — when the air filter is dirty, it impedes proper airflow. This can not only reduce energy efficiency, but it can also cause damage to the compressor and other AC components. The filter should be changed on a monthly basis.
Low refrigerant levels — low refrigerant levels can cause the evaporator coil to become too cold.
Closed supply registers — just like a dirty filter will hinder proper air flow, so will supply registers that are closed. Make sure registers are open and there is nothing blocking the flow of air.

When you have problems with your air conditioner freezing, it is important to take measures to ensure the problem is resolved. While there are certainly some things a homeowner can handle on their own, there are also times when a professional air conditioning technician will be necessary.

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