What Does Ice on an Air Conditioner Mean?
In certain parts of the country, there is still snow on the ground (or even in the forecast!). In other parts of the country, signs of warmer weather are becoming more apparent, though the real hot temperatures are still a ways off. Here in Arizona, though, we’re already seeing temperatures in the upper 70’s, or even the mid to high 80’s!. Our air conditioning systems often get a much earlier start than those in other areas, which is exactly why it is so important that you have yours tuned up and ready for action sooner rather than later.
Now, routine air conditioning maintenance is definitely the best way to keep your AC up and running properly. The truth of the matter, though, is that even the best air conditioners that are the most diligently maintained are not going to function 100% reliably. No mechanical system will. The best thing to do is to learn the warning signs of problems, so that you can schedule prompt air conditioning repairs. One issue that you may encounter is ice building up on your system.
Ice on the Evaporator Coil
You may not have much cause for checking in on your evaporator coil. However, it is actually very beneficial to do so every now and then. You may not feel comfortable cleaning your evaporator coil on your own — which is something that we are happy to do for you — but peeking into that air handler from time to time means that you can catch signs of icing over early on.
Your evaporator coil is the point at which refrigerant is evaporated, hence the name. The evaporation of your refrigerant allows for the removal of heat from the air within your home. If there is ice on your evaporator coil, then it will impede this process, causing your system to overwork itself in trying to cool your home. That is why it’s a problem — but what causes the icing?
If it is your evaporator coil that’s iced over, it could be something as simple as a dirty air filter. You could also have blower fan problems. How does this cause icing? By restricting airflow. If there is not enough hot air moving over the evaporator coil, then the coil can get too cold. When that happens, the condensation that collects 0n the coil before being drained down the condensate drain/pan assembly can freeze over. The thicker the ice gets, the more insulated the coil, so this is something of a self-perpetuating problem.
Air conditioners do not use water in their operation (other than swamp coolers, which don’t use a refrigerant cycle). If you have a central AC or heat pump, and see water surrounding your indoor unit, it could be ice melting off of your evaporator coil.
Ice on the Condenser Unit/Refrigerant Lines
If you have ice on your outdoor unit, you’d probably be surprised considering just how hot the air outside is. Obviously, this is an abnormality. Ice on the outdoor unit, along with frost or ice on the refrigerant line themselves, will generally indicate a refrigerant leak. Basically, having too little refrigerant in the system is going to lead to issues with the heat transfer process, which can cause this icing. You may also have a refrigerant leak if your evaporator coil is iced over, though it’s not as immediately obvious and would likely be accompanied by these other points icing over.
Allowing your system to run when it’s icing over can lead to serious strain on your AC, particularly on your compressor. With weather as hot as ours, that is just inviting catastrophe to your system. Don’t let your system overheat and burn out. Contact us to have the problem resolved immediately.
Goettl Air Conditioning is here for all of your air conditioning service needs.