Everything You Need to Know About Air Conditioner Icing

In air conditioning, air conditioner freezing is a phenomenon where air from the aircon condenser gets cold and changes phase to water droplets, which results in the air conditioner getting covered with pieces of ice. Specifically, airlocks are areas in the aircon system where pieces of ice block airflow.

When the aircon removes heat from inside the room, it gets cooled down, and when its temperature reaches or drops below the dew point, it starts “sweating”.

The process continues until there’s no more energy to cause water conversion between vapour to liquid phase (evaporation), from which free energy was used up for that process. When there’s no more energy available, then water stays as ice or frosty particles on evaporator coils.

How Frozen Air Conditioning System Happens

When air conditioning ices up, it means that the compressor is trying to pump too much refrigerant through the system. This causes the refrigerant to turn into a solid or slushy material as it tries to pass through the orifice tube. This can also cause the air conditioner’s evaporator coil to freeze over in extreme cases.

Although extremely low outdoor temperatures can cause air conditioners to freeze, this can also happen to air conditioners in tropical countries. A list of reasons can cause it, and most will require immediate and professional attention. In the next section, we list down the top 3 causes why an air conditioner freezes.

Reasons for Frozen Air Conditioner

Low refrigerant levels

Refrigerant overcharge air conditioning unit, air conditioner icing will result. When there is not enough refrigerant in the system, the air conditioner will not be able to produce cold air properly. This can cause the evaporator coil to freeze up, leading to several problems.

In some cases, the air conditioner may stop working altogether. In other cases, the ice may build up so much that it causes damage to the unit.

Insufficient Air Flow

In many homes and workplaces, the air conditioners are susceptible to icing, meaning that they gradually become covered with a thin layer of ice. This usually occurs when the aircon is set too low or insufficient airflow from outside to cool the air conditioning system. In some cases, an air conditioner may be completely iced over with no air at all flowing from it – this usually happens after power failure.

Dirty Air Filter

In aircon servicing, air filters are often one of the first things to be checked. Dirty air filters cause air conditioners to work harder and use more electricity, costing you money. Still, they can also slow down airflow, which means that even though it’s not going up a tube doing anything, the air in the room is still stuffy and uncomfortable or eventually lead to air conditioner malfunctions such as icing. The air filter works by trapping dirt particles before they reach your lungs.

Signs of icing AC Unit

After about two weeks since installation, when there’s been enough dirt buildup in the aircon unit’s blower fan, one may start to notice problems such as the cooling system begins to shut off intermittently. Or perhaps it takes much longer for the room temperature to drop when turned on from when it was turned off before. If you notice ice on the unit, the air conditioner may be frozen, especially on the coils. If there is a significant amount of ice, your air conditioner will not work properly, and it will likely need to be serviced.

Meanwhile, air conditioning units may freeze up in certain weather conditions, which can be quite harmful and even damage its system if frost builds up further. When you see ice formations on your indoor evaporator coils (a set of fins near the air inlets), turn off your air conditioner unit immediately. Freezing can cause damage, such as leaks in your AC duct.

How to prevent the air conditioner from freezing

There are two main ways to prevent air conditioners from freezing up: adjusting airflow and adding extra refrigerants or installing an air conditioner heating element. The third way of prevention is by turning off the unit and waiting until the ice melts, then restarting the system after 20 minutes.

  1. Adjust airflow – you can do this by cleaning the air filter every month to ensure that your air conditioner is getting the air it needs. You should also make sure that nothing is blocking the air intake (e.g. a curtain or a piece of furniture).
  2. Add extra refrigerant – if your air conditioner is low on refrigerant, adding more will help to keep the coils from freezing up and consistently give you cool air. If you are not comfortable doing this yourself, please contact a professional to help you out.
  3. Install air conditioner heating element – this is an electrical heating wire that wraps around the coil and helps keep them from freezing up during colder weather conditions. This can be done by a professional or even by yourself, but it is essential to be familiar with the air conditioner’s wiring before you start.

Final Thought

Whichever prevention method you choose, always remember to keep an eye on your air conditioner and un-freeze it as soon as possible if you notice any ice formations!

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