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Why Ice on Your Coils Indicates a Need for Air Conditioning Repair


Ice and frost appearing along the evaporator coil of an air conditioner often confuses people. It seems like it shouldn’t happen… but the cool air coming the system makes it feel like it couldn’t be that much of a problem.

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Yet ice on an air conditioner is a serious problem, and one that needs the immediate assistance of HVAC technicians. In Wesley Chapel, FL, air conditioning repair from the experienced staff of Ierna’s Heating & Cooling will remove frost from your AC and fix the trouble that started it.

Ice on the coils and why it needs repair

There are a number of causes for the development of ice and frost along the coils. These are the most common:

  • Clogged air filter
  • Dirty evaporator coil
  • Lowered refrigerant charge

In each case, the evaporator coil loses its ability to effectively absorb heat. This prevents the cold refrigerant moving through the coil from warming up, and subsequently the moisture that condenses along the coil will freeze.

Once ice begins to form along the coil, it further blocks heat absorption and initiates a downward cycle where even more ice forms. Without remedy, the entire coil will eventually have a block of ice covering it, completely halting heat exchange and preventing the air conditioner from providing any cooling. (The mass of ice can also permanently damage the coil.)

A clogged air filter is the most frequent cause of icing, but also one that is easily preventable. Make sure you change the filter once a month while the air conditioner runs regularly (i.e. most of the summer) and you shouldn’t encounter a problem from the evaporator coil receiving insufficient warm air. If ice starts to form, change the filter first, but still call for repairs to help defrost the coil and check that another malfunction isn’t creating the situation.

A grime-covered evaporator coil will also require professional repairs; in order to properly clean the coil, it must first be removed from the unit, and this calls for the work of a trained technician. Keep in mind that simply scraping off the ice will not solve the problem.

Loss of refrigerant charge is the most serious cause of icing. Not only will it start the ice development across the coil, it will change the pressure inside the system and damage other components. The compressor—the heart of the AC—is at particular risk, since the refrigerant will no longer cool it down adequately and the component may overheat and burn out. You must call for repairs if you suspect a refrigerant leak is lowering its charge (a hissing sound is one of the warning signs). Professionals will locate the leaks, seal them, check for compressor damage, and then recharge the refrigerant to its correct level.

Don’t freeze up when ice appears

If you dismiss the appearance of ice on your air conditioner, you will put the whole system in jeopardy. This is a case where an AC sends an obvious sign that it needs repair work, so schedule air conditioning repair in Wesley Chapel, FL.

Ierna’s Heating & Cooling has 24-hour emergency service, so we’re always prepared to de-ice and restore your air conditioner the moment you see the first sign of frost.