Your air conditioner may be one of the most important electrical equipment in your home. To work efficiently, it demands proper attention in the form of seasonal maintenance. In spite of everything you do, there may be times when it still acts up. Sometimes it may start making weird noises, and at times it may just freeze up. It may sound dire, but these are only small issues that can be dealt with easily. Many times we are asked by our clients, “How to fix a frozen AC unit?”. Today, we shall not only answer that but also tell you other things that can speed up the defrosting process.
What It Means To Have A Frozen AC
When you hear the term frozen AC unit, it implies that the outdoor unit of the AC has ice formation and is unable to thaw.
In winters, this happens periodically. When in heat mode, the heat pump tends to freeze occasionally. Every AC unit usually comes equipped with a built-in “defrost mode” which operates in cycles of 30, 60- or 90-minutes intervals. For all intents and purposes, the defrost mode is the “Cool mode”. When in this mode the AC will blow hot air outside and cool air within the home. Essentially speaking, the cool air that is blowing in the system runs electrical heat strips to offset the cool air.
In summers, a frozen AC means that the evaporator coils have frozen. The condensation accumulated on the AC freezes due to the substantially low temperature of the coolant or the refrigerant.
What To Expect When The AC Freezes
When the AC freezes, it is a sure-shot sign that something is wrong with your air conditioner. Had everything been working fine, there would be no reason for such a thing to happen. The causes could be varied right from low refrigerant levels to problems with the blower fan, or it could be indicative of a faulty defrost control system or dirty air filters. No matter how you look at it, but the fact remains that something is broke and that is why your AC is frozen.
Reasons Why Heat Pump Could Freeze
Mostly all heat pumps have programmed controls. These automatic settings permit the AC unit to self-maintain. In winters, the instinctive controls trigger the machine to defrost itself and thereby prevent ice buildup. Care must, however, be taken to ensure that the airflow is not confined to just around the unit as that will lead to a faster buildup of ice. Make sure that the air filters are clean and that there is no accumulation of dust and debris in the ductwork. Externally, see to it that snow and leaves have not stockpiled around the unit as it could diminish the flow of air.
Reasons Why The Evaporator Coil Freezes
There are various reasons which would cause the evaporator coils to freeze. It is important is to know that the coils freeze mostly when there is restricted airflow. Getting back to the reasons, these are the most probable ones –
1. Dirty air filters.
2. A problem in the blower fan or its motor.
3. Low refrigerant levels.
How To Fix A Frozen AC Unit?
Now that your AC is frozen, what would you do? Obviously, unfreeze it or thaw it. To do so, switch the thermostat “OFF” and turn on the fan. This would melt all the ice that has formed on it. Do not expect any instant results. Defrosting your AC may take anywhere from a couple of hours to a day, depending on how much ice has formed on it.
Can I Pour Hot Water On Frozen Air Conditioner?
Many people ask us, “Can I pour hot water on frozen air conditioner”? The answer is “Yes”. Pouring hot water will melt the ice faster and in turn, thaw your AC faster. In fact, the water need not be extremely hot, even warm water or running water will do the job beautifully. What you need to pay attention to is to mop up all the water that has spilled around the unit.
Tips While Pouring Hot Water On Frozen Air conditioner
You can’t just pour hot water on your AC. An air conditioner is a piece of electrical equipment that might short circuit if you pour water without a care. In adverse cases, it may even cause an electrical fire. That is something you can very well do without. So here are a few tips that will come handy when you try hot water therapy on your AC –
1. Disconnect the AC from the main power source.
2. Pour hot water only on the coils.
3. Do not splash or throw water; instead, try to pour it in a steady stream.
4. Make sure all the water drains outside and does not spill inside the home.
Can A Hair Dryer Defrost An AC?
A hairdryer too would hasten the process of melting the ice. Ensure that you run it on the lowest possible setting as high heat can cause further damage to the AC unit.
What Shouldn’t I Do?
Now that you know what you can do, its time to direct attention to what you should never do. You should never try and break the ice formed on your AC with a sharp object. If you do so, you may land up breaking or causing severe damage to some part of the air conditioning unit. This may prove to be a costly mistake.
It is not an unheard-of scenario when your AC freezes. It happens even to the most conscientious homeowners. There are ways and means in which you can defrost your AC. These methods are time tested and guaranteed. You can further speed up the process by either blowing warm air through a hairdryer or by pouring hot water over the evaporator coils. However, defrosting the AC is just a temporary corrective measure. If you want permanent relief from the problem, try to understand its cause and address the root of the problem. Else, your AC will keep on freezing. In the end, when nothing else works, your local HVAC company is the answer to all your AC problems. Book an appointment and let the professionals work their magic.
Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs
First thing to do is to switch off the cooling from the thermostat. Now, change the fan setting to “On.” Keep the fan running until all the ice on the AC melts. This is all you need to do to unfreeze the AC.
Hot water should not be poured on the AC continuously. Therefore, that’s one limiting factor. If it’s hot, the AC will defrost faster; if it’s cold, it takes longer. It’s safe to say hot water therapy can take anywhere from a few hours to a whole day to defrost the air conditioner.
It does not matter which method you use to defrost the AC. You need to wait until the ice on the AC melts completely before you can use it without any concerns.
The easiest way to melt ice accumulated on the evaporator coil is by switching off the cooling and setting the fan to “On” on the thermostat. Now, you just sit back and wait for the system to defrost.