As you start to use your air conditioner more often this summer, you may start to notice ice forming on the system. This may seem like a good thing, considering that an air conditioner is supposed to be generating cool air. However, air conditioner ice is actually a sign that you have a problem with your system. If the problem isn’t fixed, you could end up having the whole system break down. Let’s take a look at why air conditioner ice happens, and what you can do to stop it.
The Evaporator Coil
The air conditioner cools the air in your home using a part called the evaporator coil. This coil evaporates refrigerant to absorb thermal energy from the warm air in the ducts. As a result of this operation, the air temperature around the coil drops. Condensation also forms on the coil as the air is cooled past the dew point.
Normally, the constant flow of warm air maintains a balance in temperature, allowing the coil to continue operating normally. If the flow of air is interrupted, however, the temperature around the coil will drop until the condensate freezes. This causes the entire coil to eventually ice over. While the coil is frozen, it will be unable to siphon thermal energy properly. The ice can also spread down the refrigerant line to other parts of the system, causing further issues.
How to Prevent Ice
The two most common causes of air conditioner ice are a clogged air filter or a broken air handler. Both of these problems will prevent adequate amounts of air from reaching the evaporator coil, which will cause it to freeze over. If you want to prevent this from happening, you should get your air filter cleaned once every few months and call for repairs if you hear a loud grinding sound coming from the system. That indicates that the air handler needs repairs.