Has your air conditioner been slowly accumulating ice over the last few days or weeks? No, that isn’t due to the impending arrival of fall. It’s actually a symptom of a serious problem that can cause your entire air conditioner to break down if you don’t deal with it as quickly as possible. If your air conditioner has ice on it, you need to call a professional technician to handle it for you. Let’s go over why ice forms on the air conditioner, and what you can do to stop it from happening.
Air Filters, Air Handlers, And Your Evaporator Coil
The reason air conditioner coils most often ice over is because there isn’t enough air moving over them. This happens for one of two reasons. Either the air filter is clogged, or the air handler is malfunctioning somehow. The air filter is designed to keep your air conditioner safe from the various kinds of harmful contaminants that are often found in residential ductwork. If the filter is not changed every three months or so, though, it will become clogged and block the majority of the airflow from reaching the air conditioner. The air handler is the part of the air conditioner that actually circulates air throughout the home. If the air handler malfunctions, the system will be physically incapable of circulating air properly.
The evaporator coil relies on a constant flow of warm air across it in order to continue operating properly. If the flow of warm air stops, the temperature around the coil will continue to drop until the condensate on the coil freezes. This causes the ice to form on the coil.
Why Ice is a Bad Thing
The reason it’s not good to have your air conditioner ice over is because the coil loses access to the heat around it. The heat that it’s supposed to siphon and release outside of the home so that the temperature inside can drop. If your air conditioner is frozen over, it will essentially be unable to cool your home until it is fixed. The ice can also spread down the refrigerant lines to other parts of the air conditioner, causing further problems up to and including a full system breakdown. If you want to prevent this from happening, you should change your air filter every three months while you’re using the air conditioner, and call for repairs as soon as you notice ice on the system.
The best way to prevent any and all air conditioning problems, of course, is to schedule preventive air conditioning maintenance at least once a year. This gives your technician the opportunity to find and resolve issues with the system before they become too serious. If you haven’t had maintenance conducted on your air conditioner already this year, make sure that you do so soon.