When you turn on the air conditioning system in your house, cool and refreshing air flows out of the vents in the rooms. The air feels chilled, like it has passed over ice on the way to your living space. So when you notice there’s ice developing along the indoor evaporator coil of the air conditioner, that’s just a normal part of how the AC runs—right?
No, it’s not. We understand why people might think ice is just a basic side-effect of how an air conditioner cools down a space. But at no point in an air conditioner’s operation should ice appear. When you see ice developing along the evaporator coil, something is wrong and you may need to have technicians repair the system.
Why Is Ice a Problem?
An air conditioner provides cooling by removing thermal energy (i.e. heat) from the air blown around the evaporator coil. This cools the air which then travels into the ventilation system. The coil absorbs heat by evaporating the cold refrigerant moving through it. The refrigerant then moves to the outside of the house and exhausts the heat by condensing in the outdoor coil. This process is called heat exchange. At no point is ice involved.
If ice is appearing, it means for some reason the evaporator coil isn’t drawing enough heat from the air blown around it. This leaves the refrigerant in the coil too cold. If the refrigerant is still below freezing, it will cause moisture condensation on the coil to freeze. This ice further restricts heat absorption and will continue to grow. Eventually, ice will cover the entire coil and heat exchange will stop. That means no cool air in the house.
What Causes Ice to Form?
There are a number of reasons why the evaporator coil might start to lose heat absorption and create ice:
- The air filter on the HVAC system is clogged, cutting off the amount of warm air moving around the evaporator coil.
- Dust, grime, or mold along the coil is insulating it from the warm air.
- The air conditioner is leaking refrigerant, which limits how much heat the coil can absorb. The remaining refrigerant will stay cold enough to trigger freezing.
In the first case, you need to put in a new air filter to restore the air flow. The second and third case are major air conditioning repair needs that require professionals. Lost refrigerant is an especially big problem, since it will eventually lead to the compressor burning out and the need to replace the entire air conditioner.
And please, don’t try to scrape off the ice! The ice isn’t the root of the problem but a symptom. The actual problem needs to be fixed. Scraping the ice off yourself can also damage the coil. Professionals will handle the work of defrosting an iced-over coil.
When you need the best in air conditioning repair in New Braunfels, TX and the Greater New Braunfels Area, call our technicians. We’re already on our way!
At Thayer Air Conditioning, your comfort is our #1 priority. Call us for fast AC repairs.