The sight of ice or frost on the coils of your air conditioner may not initially be cause for alarm. Isn’t the system supposed to be cool? In point of fact, however, ice on the coils is a sign of a significant problem, which requires the services of a professional to correct. How did it get there and what kinds of problems can it cause? Read on for the answers.
The Process of Air Conditioning
Centralized air conditioning relies on a series of valves and coils which pass refrigerant in a never-ending cycle. The refrigerant begins the process in gaseous form before being subjected to compression that bleeds heat out of it and shifts it from gaseous to liquid form. The heat is vented outside of the home while the pressurized refrigerant passes into the evaporator coils. There, it shifts from liquid to gaseous form and pulls heat from the nearby air, and the cooled air can then be blown through the ducts into your home. The refrigerant returns to the start of the cycle to continue the process as long as the air conditioner remains activated.
How Ice Disrupts That
When ice forms on the coils, it creates an insulating barrier between the refrigerant and the air it’s trying to cool. In some cases, it also represents lost cooling potential that stays in your air conditioner instead of going into the air as it’s supposed to. That means your air conditioner will have to work harder to do its job, raising both the monthly cost of running the system and the possibility of a more serious breakdown elsewhere. Even worse, more ice tends to form the longer the problem goes unaddressed: making the problem worse until a serious repair call is inevitable.
What Causes It
Ice can form on your air conditioner for a number of reasons, which is why you need a professional technician to diagnose the issue and make repairs. The most common cause is a loss of refrigerant, usually though a leak, which throws off the delicate balance of the process. It can also be caused by clogged filters or a malfunctioning fan, which keeps the cool air inside the system and lowers the overall temperature regardless. Sometimes the venting system can be the source of the issue too, and external temperatures can affect the situation too (which is one of the reasons why you should never run the air conditioner if the temperature drops below 65 degrees).
If you spot ice on your coils, never attempt to scrape it off. In the first place, it won’t solve the problem: the ice is a symptom, not a source, which means it will only re-form a short while later. More importantly, you could easily damage the coils, and turn a relatively straightforward repair job into a serious problem.
If you spot ice on the coils of the air conditioner in your Seaford, DE home, turn the system off and call for repairs from the friendly pros at Atlantic Refrigeration & Air Conditioning, Inc.