Ice on the Air Conditioner: Why Is It Happening?

December 7th, 2021

You may be thinking to yourself, “Why is my air conditioner icing up?” Don’t worry, it’s completely normal! Well, maybe not “normal”, but ice accumulating on an air conditioning unit is a common occurrence, and AC system repairs can address the problem. You aren’t the first or the last person with a frozen AC. 

ice on the air conditioner

Our specialists have discussed the common causes of air conditioner freezing and how to repair it. The following guide can help you understand how and why a buildup of ice accumulates on an air conditioning system—and how to resolve it. Let’s get into it!

What Causes an AC Unit to Ice Up?

Ice forming on an air conditioner may initially draw some concern. However, it often points to a common problem that most AC units experience in their lifetime. A block of ice on the AC system in your home occurs when a component of the condenser isn’t getting enough hot air coming in to maintain a proper temperature. This leads to freezing. This issue typically forces an HVAC system to work harder to cool. As a result, it is a waste of energy and ultimately leads to poor AC performance (and indoor discomfort). 

Low Internal Temperatures

Air conditioners ice up when the temperature in the condenser’s evaporator coil drops too low. The air intake should normally be receiving warm air and sending it outside of your home. Systems freeze when the flow of this hot air stops. Thus, instead of removing hot air from your home, the evaporator coils end up transferring air that is too cold. This results in ice buildup on the air conditioner. 

Other Causes of Ice Forming 

Another culprit of an air conditioner icing up is a dirty air filter. When your HVAC system has a clogged air filter, the result is restricted airflow. A lack of refrigerant is another common contributing factor to icing, as well as dirty coils or broken blower fans within the system itself. Technicians typically check HVAC systems during regular maintenance visits for these factors, but there are ways to address these issues on your own.

Resolving AC Icing

Changing or cleaning air filters to remove blockading debris is one solution to air conditioner icing. However, if you routinely clean your filters and have no debris blocking the airflow, you may need to consider other methods for resolution. 

Removing any obstruction to airflow such as curtains, blinds, and furniture is another common solution that will prevent air conditioner freezing. In terms of AC repairs, it is best to leave most practices to qualified HVAC technicians. 

A professional HVAC technician will often clean the dirty evaporator coil, replace air filters, clear return vents, inspect the blower motor, or repair fans depending on the culprit of the icing. Ensuring proper airflow is crucial to avoiding icing/freezing. In some cases, technicians find low refrigerant and will fix any leaks before returning refrigerant levels back to normal. 

How Air Conditioner Icing Wastes Energy

Icing and freezing of an AC unit often go hand-in-hand with skyrocketing energy bills. Air conditioners need to work overtime and deliver poor performance when components of the unit, like the coils or fan, are dirty, damaged, or frozen. This puts a lot of stress on the unit and can significantly reduce its lifespan. More often than not, increased energy bills can result in higher costs than air conditioner repairs—when the problem is left unresolved. It’s best practice to contact a professional HVAC technician immediately if your unit is frozen or you noticed a refrigerant leak. That’s where we come in!

Island Comfort Air Conditioning: We’re here to help

The HVAC specialists at Island Comfort have been handling and repairing frozen, damaged, or malfunctioning AC units in Hawaii for years! If you’re having difficulty with your air conditioning unit, or your system has begun to ice over, reach out to us today to schedule service for a tune-up and let’s get your problem solved! We take great pride in restoring homeowners’ comfort, and look forward to working with you!