Seeing ice in summer may be a pleasing thought, but if that ice is on your air conditioner, you are in for some uncomfortable times. As it is, anything with electricity and water (even frozen) is not an ideal situation. Therefore, your safety and that of the cooling equipment become a top priority. The best course of action is to shut down the AC and call your professional HVAC technician for troubleshooting.
A frozen air conditioner is not a new problem. It happens to plenty of people, and fortunately, the reasons behind the occurrence are few and quite obvious. Nevertheless, as a homeowner, you may not be able to figure out and solve the problem, making it necessary to call for professional help. Even if you can’t do much, it is still good to know what the possibilities are. Consequently, we endeavor to help enrich your knowledge regarding why ice is forming in your ductless mini-split AC.
Why Does Ice Buildup In AC?
Some of us think that the AC produces cold air. That is not true. What the AC necessarily does is, remove the latent heat from the indoor air and expel it outdoors. As a result, the warm air entering the AC returns much cooler. In the complete process, the key role is played by the refrigerant. The whole process happens in the following manner:
1. Before moving into the evaporator coil, an expansion valve takes off pressure from the liquid refrigerant. It allows the refrigerant to expand and turn into vaporous form and swiftly cool to almost freezing temperatures.
2. When the cold evaporator coils containing the chilled refrigerant encounter your home’s air, it draws the heat from it. It also extracts the excess moisture present in the air and condenses it into a liquid form.
3. The cool and dry air is sent back indoors. In the meantime, the refrigerant compresses and runs through the condenser coil to release the captured heat into the outside air.
The most important thing to know and always keep in mind is that the surface temperature of the evaporator coil is close to freezing. In the absence of adequate refrigerant or air supply, the temperature can very quickly fall below freezing. When that happens, the moisture extracted by the coolant freezes over the coils leading to an ice buildup.
Reasons For Ice Formation In A Ductless Mini-Split AC
As is clear from the above discussion, there are 2 main reasons behind the freezing of your mini-split system. But these are not the only ones, so let us now study all the possibilities in a little more detail:
1. Low Refrigerant Level – The refrigerant transfers heat from the evaporator coils to the condenser coils. Once the heat reaches the outdoor coils, it is dissipated into the environment. When the level of refrigerant is low, it starts circulating through the system more quickly. Due to this, the heat transfer is not proper, and so the moisture starts freezing and leads to an ice buildup.
Since the refrigerant line is a closed system, the only way its level can drop is if there is a leak in the line. A trained and certified HVAC professional can troubleshoot the refrigerant line to detect the leaks and plug them. Once the leaks are sealed, the refrigerant is topped, and you are all set for good times once again.
2. Insufficient Air Supply – There are a couple of things that could lead to insufficient air supply. We’ll get to them in a minute, but before that, let us briefly see how it leads to freezing. The AC freezes with inadequate air supply as the lack of airflow makes the condenser coils cold. Now let us see have a look at all the reasons that could be causing airflow problems:
Clogged air filters – Change the air filters every month to put an end to this situation.
Fan problems – Only a trained technician can precisely identify what is wrong with the fan and take corrective action accordingly.
The buildup of dirt on the surface of the coils – If you wish to avoid the dust buildup, you need to ensure annual maintenance of the AC. During the maintenance service, the coils will be thoroughly cleaned so you won’t have to face similar issues again.
3. Low Outside Temperature –If it is cold outside, i.e., the outdoor temperature is close to zero, or below it already, your AC will freeze if you run it. Since it is already quite cold, it will take very little for the refrigerant to become chilled and freeze the moisture over the coils. If you want to avoid ice formation on the coils, best not to use AC in winters or, for that matter, when it is already cold.
Why Is Ice Formation On AC A Problem?
Ice formation on AC is not normal. It is a sign that something somewhere in the cooling system is not as it should be. Hence, it is not wise to overlook this occurrence, thinking it will melt on its own. Remember, when the ice melts, it will create water puddles and may also damage your fools and walls. Secondly, the melting ice may cause a short circuit which may fry your system or lead to an electrical fire. Additionally, the unit will continuously short cycle resulting in lower efficiency, poor cooling, and high energy bills. Last but not least, if the cause of icing is not addressed, it will reoccur.
Ice formation on your ductless mini-split AC is not a major cause for concern. Nevertheless, you need to unplug the system and call the technician to solve the problem. Continuing to run the AC without resolving the issue is to your detriment. It could lead to significant problems in the AC and even make your indoor space uncomfortable. Aztil Air Conditioning provides top-notch residential and commercial HVAC services at pocket-friendly rates in West Palm Beach. From installation to repairs and maintenance, we are the AC experts. With an elite task force of trained and certified technicians, we guarantee your system is always in good hands. To book an appointment for any HVAC service, give us a call at +1-888-729-8452.