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What to do When Your A/C Unit Freezes

by | Dec 2, 2017 | Air Conditioner, Cooling

Air Conditioner Frozen OverIt’s the middle of summer, and you happen to notice a puddle of water on the floor around your air conditioner. Or you notice ice on the unit outside. How is that possible? And what do you now?! Don’t worry—these are common problems amongst air conditioner owners. No matter how hot it can get where you live, it is possible for ice to form on or inside your unit. However, no matter what the case may be, puddles and ice are not supposed to be there and always means that you have a problem that needs some immediate attention. When you spot excess water and ice where they shouldn’t be, your priority should be to save your system and address the problem as quickly as possible to prevent further damage.

Why does this happen?

1. Reduced airflow When airflow over the evaporator coils is reduced, it can cause the temperature of the mechanism to dip too low and turn the natural condensation to frost and spill over to the drain pan. Often, this is due to something as simple as a dirty air filter, coil or blower fan.

2. Low refrigerant When the refrigerant is too low, the evaporator coil’s temperature can drop low enough to freeze and cause a build up of ice or frost. This could be because of a leak, a rusted or broken condensate plate, or a result of your unit being installed improperly in the first place.

3. Drain pipe blockages The water that can collect in your air conditioner travels through a series of pipes and is expelled through a drain pan. A blockage at any point in this circuit can cause an unwanted water leak.

4. Improper installation When a system is installed poorly, any number of these things can happen to result in water leaks and freezing. If your unit is still fairly new and shows any sign of these symptoms, it’s likely that the installation was done incorrectly and the system needs an adjustment.

5. Too cold outside Towards the end of the summer when the temperatures start to cool down again, the coils in your unit can freeze and spring a leak if it’s running when it does get a little too cold outside.

What should I do if I find ice or frost built up on my AC unit?

1. Turn the unit off First and foremost, cut the power to the unit. With ice and water collecting where they don’t belong, you don’t want to

2. Check the filter The problem could be a result of obstructions in air flow and the solution may be as simple as cleaning or changing the filter.

3. Give the ice a chance to melt Keep the power off while the system thaws. This can take many hours depending on the extent of the freezing and whether its only on the outside of unit or the pipes inside as well.

4. With the unit thawed and fresh filter in place, turn your system on again. 5. If your unit is not cooling or airflow still has not improved, or the ice returns despite the clean filter, turn the system off again and contact your HVAC professional for proper diagnosis of the issue before any greater damage is caused.


– Try to replace the refrigerant on your own. If the low refrigerant levels are being caused by an unsealed leak, the problem will only persist or even worsen.

Scrape the ice off Not only with this not speed up the thawing process, you could cause even more damage to the unit and have an even bigger (more expensive) problem on your hands. Let the frost melt on its own while the system rests.

Keep the AC running Running your system when it is showing these signs of distress and restricted airflow will inevitably cause significant damage to the unit or burn it right out. Though they are not uncommon, these problems should not be taken lightly. Continued frost build-up or standing water can cause permanent damage to the unit and at worst, it can put the safety your home and family at risk. It could be as simple as cleaning out the filter, but it is important to address the issue as soon as you notice.

Consult R.F. Schraut Heating & Cooling if you have any concerns so you can stay cool and comfortable through the hot summer days.


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