Ice On Your A/C: The Causes And How To Prevent It

Most people don't think about their A/C unit until something goes wrong. This includes when ice build-up is noticed. If you can catch it early, you can do something about it yourself. However, if it is widespread, then you may have to call in a professional. Either way, here are some causes of ice build-up on your air conditioning unit and how to prevent it.

The Causes

There are many things that can cause ice to build up on your air conditioning unit. In fact, it can happen on the hottest and sunniest day of the year. Of course, there are three conditions that seem to trigger ice build-up more than others, and there are:

  • Inadequate Air Flow – As a general rule, poor air flow is caused by the user as a result of a dirty or clogged air filter or excessive dirt that has accumulated on the evaporator coil. In some cases, it may be due to an evaporator fan that is malfunctioning, as this fan is responsible for ensuring that condensation does not freeze on the coils. If the fan fails to spin fast enough or doesn't spin at all, then the condensation will freeze and turn into ice creating poor air flow.
  • Low Coolant Levels – In many cases, this is due to a leak. Regardless, though, of why your air conditioning unit is low on coolant, the low levels results in a pressure drop in the coils. As a result, the condensation freezes and ice builds up on the coils.
  • Cooler Outside Temperatures – When it is cool outside, air conditioners don't typically perform their best. As a result, there is a good chance of a freeze-up. This is particularly true if it is not properly protected from the basic elements.

The Prevention

The good news is that there are several things that you can do to help prevent ice build-ups on your A/C unit. Here is what you need to know:

  • Check Your Filter Monthly – Since a dirty filter is the main cause of poor air flow, it is imperative that your check your filter on a monthly basis. If it is dirty, it should be replaced immediately. As a general rule, filters should be replaced every few months. However, when the unit is being used excessively, it may need to be changed more often.
  • Keep Two Feet Around the Unit Clear – To keep air flowing around your unit, make sure that there is nothing within two feet around your entire unit. This includes plants, shrubs, flowers, debris, garden hoses, etc.
  • Schedule a Tune-Up – If your air conditioning unit hasn't had a tune-up recently, schedule one. An A/C unit that has been properly maintained it going to function properly and work more efficiently.

Contact a service, like Hartman Heating, Air and Fireplaces, for more help.