Believe it or not, but a frozen HVAC is a problem that is fairly common and can occur even during the summer months. But if you walk outside and notice ice on your HVAC system, you may have many questions, especially if this is your first time encountering this problem. Getting answers to the questions you have can help you to understand what causes the ice to build up, how to correct it and what can be done to prevent this problem from happening in the future. Here are a few common questions you may have about a frozen HVAC system.
Why Did the HVAC System Freeze?
There are a few different reasons why an HVAC system can freeze. One of the most common reasons why this occurs is because of poor air circulation around and within the unit. High levels of humidity in the air, dirty air filters, collapsed ducts, a damaged blower motor or a dirty evaporator coil can all impede the flow of air. This causes air to sit in the HVAC system and not move. If the unit is turned on cool mode, or if it is cold outside, this sitting air can become so cold that it causes any moisture inside of the unit to freeze, causing the ice that you see.
Another reason why your HVAC system can freeze is because of a refrigerant leak. The refrigerant cools the coils that ultimately cool the air that travels into your home. If the fluid is leaking outside of the coils, it may be cooling other parts of the HVAC unit. If there is moisture where this is present, ice will form.
The last reason why your HVAC unit may freeze is because it is cold outside. You should never attempt to run your air conditioning when it is cooler than 60 degrees outside. It is too cold and you can cause ice to form inside and outside your HVAC unit.
What Should Be Done if There Is Ice on an HVAC System?
If you notice that your HVAC system has frozen, you will want to shut it off and disconnect it from its power source immediately. Do not continue to run it, as ice can continue to accumulate. Unfortunately, the strain of the heavy ice can damage parts of your HVAC system, including the motors and fans. After you have turned the unit off, you will want to wait to do anything else until the unit defrosts. Do not attempt to use hot water or any other warming mechanisms to defrost the unit, as any metal pipes can burst if they are frozen and have hot water poured on them.
After the unit has been defrosted, the first thing you will want to do is ensure that the flow of air into the air conditioning unit is not impeded. Change the air filter, trim back trees and bushes around the unit and clean around the unit to remove dirt and dust. Once you have done this, test your unit. If the problem persists, this is not the issue.
After checking for airflow issues, you will want to evaluate your unit's evaporator coils. If you notice any cracks in the evaporator coils, you will need to call in a professional plumber or HVAC contractor to replace the coils and refill your coolant. If you don't notice any cracks, clean the coils to ensure that that isn't the problem.
If your unit continues to freeze up, you will want to check your ductwork and vents to ensure your air is flowing as it should. Consider having the ductwork cleaned, if needed, to remove obstructions and blockages. If your can't access your vents, a professional can inspect and clean them for you.
If your HVAC unit continues to freeze, you will want to call in a professional to assist you with troubleshooting and repairing the problem.
How Do You Prevent an HVAC System From Freezing in the Future?
Properly maintaining your HVAC system and having it inspected annually is the best way to prevent it from freezing. Many of the issues that cause an HVAC unit to freeze, such as a dirty air filter or dirty ducts, are caused by poor maintenance. You can also catch other problems that may cause your unit to not work as well as it should be by having your unit inspected, tuned up and cleaned on a yearly basis.
Your HVAC system can freeze for a variety of reasons. But if you have never encountered this, you may find yourself wondering why this happened and what to do. Getting answers to these questions will help you know what to do if you find yourself in this situation. If you do not want to do this on your own, or the problem continues to recur despite taking preventative measures, you will want to call in an HVAC specialist. They can evaluate your system and help remove ice or find out what is causing the ice to form and fix it.