On days when summertime temperatures are nearing the triple digits, the last thing you'd expect to see on your air conditioner is a sheet of ice. Nevertheless, ice buildup is a common problem among hard-working air conditioners. Not only can it temporarily put your air conditioner out of commission when you need it most, but it can also take years off its lifespan if left unchecked.
Fortunately, it doesn't take much to keep ice buildup at bay. Here are a few tips you can use to prevent ice buildup from occurring in your air conditioning system.
Avoid Airflow Blockages
Your air conditioner relies on continuous airflow to keep temperatures near the evaporator coil above freezing. Any interruption in airflow, whether it's caused by a dirty air filter or something blocking the return air intakes, can cause coil temperatures to fall below freezing, allowing condensation to freeze on the coil and eventually form thick layers of ice.
Here are a few tips you can use to prevent the likelihood of airflow-related ice buildup:
- Check your air filter on a regular basis and change it if it's caked with dust and debris. Most experts recommend changing the air filter at least once every three months.
- Make sure there aren't any obstacles, including furniture, carpets, drapes, and other items, blocking the return air intake.
- Always check and clean the air intake ducts and grilles for dust and debris.
These simple steps can prevent blockages that could lead to ice buildup and harm your air conditioner.
Keep Your Coils Clean
It's possible for dirt and debris to accumulate on the evaporator and condenser coils inside your air conditioning system. The resulting blockage can prevent air from flowing through the coils, interrupting the heat transfer process your air conditioner relies on to both absorb and release heat. This interference can set the stage for ice buildup on the coils.
It's a good idea to have your HVAC technician check and clean the evaporator and condenser coils. Both coils are lined with thin aluminum fins that can easily bend and break with rough handling. Your technician may gently scrub the coils with a soft brush and a mild detergent solution or spray a self-rinsing cleaning solution on the coil surface, depending on the coil's condition.
Check Your Refrigerant Charge
Having the right amount of refrigerant in your air conditioner is absolutely essential. If refrigerant levels drop below the manufacturer's recommended specs, the corresponding drop in system pressure can lower temperatures near the coil below freezing. This temperature drop can cause the evaporator and condenser coils to freeze over, effectively preventing the air conditioning unit from cooling your home properly.
If you suspect low refrigerant levels to be the cause of your air conditioner's ice buildup, you should have your HVAC technician check your unit's refrigerant charge, as well as check for refrigerant leaks. Doing this check yourself could result in serious injury as well as damage to the air conditioner itself. Only your HVAC technician has the tools and expertise to safely perform this process.
Check Your Fans Regularly
Your air conditioning system relies on its fans to circulate air throughout the air conditioning system. A burned-out fan motor can easily spell disaster for your air conditioner, leading to ice buildup as the unit is starved for adequate airflow. Dust buildup and physical damage to the fan blades can also affect airflow, increasing your air conditioner's chances of ice buildup.
Keeping your fans free of dust buildup and the fan motors well-lubricated can go a long way towards preventing ice buildup. It doesn't hurt to have your HVAC technician inspect your blower and condenser fans on a regular basis.
To learn more about keeping your air conditioner ice-free or to set up a service appointment with one of our technicians, use our contact form to get in touch with us.