Simple Steps to Fix a Frozen Air Conditioner


It’s among the most common air conditioner problems homeowners encounter – your air conditioner suddenly stops working due to a frozen coil. While it may seem baffling that this could happen during the hot summer months, this happens all the time for several reasons. Once the problem is triggered, however, the refrigerant in your compressor expands too quickly, causing the temperature to drop to freezing in the coils and creating an icy mess.

We’ll discuss how you can prevent this problem a little later, but if you discover that the coils in your outdoor unit have frozen over, here’s how you can fix the problem quickly.


Thaw it Out

Once you have discovered a freezing problem with your air conditioner, your first step is to turn off the system. Keep the system off until those coils have had time to thaw out and get rid of the ice. Be careful to not damage the coils if you’re trying to speed up the thawing process – the best thing to do is to let the frozen stuff clear on its own (it won’t take long with our summer temperatures).


Check Your Filter

Air conditioner freezing problems are generally caused by restricted airflow. When air isn’t moving properly through the system it can throw off the balance needed for your A/C to work the way it’s supposed to work. When air isn’t allowing for the transfer of heat at the point of the compressor coils, things get too cold, creating ice.

You will need to find out if there is an air blockage somewhere in your system. The first place you should check is your air filter. We ask customers to change these on a regular basis for a reason – they’re usually the first place where a problem can occur. If you haven’t changed your filter in months and it’s filled to the brim with dust and dirt, a filter change will likely solve your problem. If the filter is clean, there is likely a clog somewhere else in the system.


Check Your Coil and Cooling Fins

It’s time to head back out to your condenser unit. Once everything has thawed, take a good look at the coils and cooling fins. Are you noticing a lot of dirt or debris from surrounding plants? If so, it’s time to get that stuff out of there. Remember to be gentle with your cleaning, though, as you don’t want to damage any of the equipment in the unit.

You might want to check the drain as well – it’s not uncommon for leaves, grass, other plant material, or soil to sometimes create a barrier. Clean any debris you find out of the drain, and you’ll likely have a working system again.


Check Your Vents

Central air systems are meant to run with all the vents open. If many your vents are closed, it’s possible that the system is being thrown out of balance and freezing up. Double check your vents to make sure they’re open and clear.

If you notice a lot of dirt in your vents, it is possible that there is a clog somewhere in your ductwork. If you’ve tried the troubleshooting tips above but are still having issues, it’s time to call us.


It Could Be the Refrigerant

It is possible, but somewhat unlikely, that your air conditioner is freezing because of a refrigerant issue such as a leak. If you have tried all the steps above and are still having problems with a frozen system, it’s time to call us. It’s also time to call us if you actually see refrigerant leaking from your air conditioner – it’s best to have a professional deal with this type of problem than to risk damaging something with a DIY attempt.


Prevent Freezing in the First Place

95% of the time, freezing in an air conditioner is caused by a blockage in air flow. In order to prevent this problem, filter replacement is important, as is routine air conditioner maintenance. It’s also a good idea to make sure that your vents aren’t being blocked by furniture, drapery, or other household items. Check your condenser unit for things that could cause blockages as well. Cut back any grass or shrubbery that is too close to the system (a three-foot clearance from the condenser is a good rule of thumb), and be mindful of trees that could drop leaves or berries into the unit.