How To Unfreeze AC Coils in 7 Steps

frozen air conditioner in summer

As the summer heat arrives, homeowners primarily rely on their AC systems to keep their homes cool and comfortable. However, when the air conditioner malfunctions, it can lead to uncomfortable and potentially unsafe indoor temperatures for family members.

One prevalent issue that can disrupt the proper functioning of an air conditioning unit is a frozen evaporator coil. If you encounter frozen AC coils, it is important to address it promptly. Read on to discover how to unfreeze AC coils. In case of uncertainty or difficulty, seek the assistance of a professional HVAC technician who can repair the frozen AC coil and perform the required maintenance tasks.

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What You Need To Know About Frozen AC Evaporator Coil

Continue reading to delve into the world of AC coils, understanding their function, the causes behind air conditioner coil freezing, the associated problems, and the necessary steps to address this issue when you observe it in your unit.

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What Is an AC Evaporator Coil?

air conditoner condensing coils

The AC evaporator coil is a component within an air conditioning system that extracts heat from indoor air, facilitating the cooling process. It is located in the indoor unit and consists of copper or aluminum tubing with thin fins to increase heat transfer. As the refrigerant flows through the evaporator coil, it changes from high-pressure gas to low-pressure liquid, absorbing heat from the surrounding air. The cooled air is immediately distributed throughout the home, while the heat absorbed by the coil is released outside through the condenser coil. However, when the evaporator coil freezes, it loses its ability to cool the air circulating throughout your home effectively.

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Signs You Have a Frozen Evaporator Coil

To check if your air conditioning unit has frozen coils, watch out for the following telltale signs:

  1. The cooling unit runs continuously but fails to cool your home effectively.
  2. Instead of cold air, you notice warm air blowing from the vents.
  3. Ice accumulation is visible around the evaporator coil.
  4. The temperature displayed on the thermostat does not match the actual indoor temperature.
  5. Frozen lines and ice buildup near the outdoor unit are observed.
  6. Water leakage or flooding near the drain pan.

If you experience one of these problems with your indoor or outdoor air conditioner units, you are likely dealing with a frozen evaporator coil. In such cases, seek assistance from professional and trained HVAC technicians.

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What Are the Dangers of Frozen Evaporator Coils?

image of a man feeling hot and uncomfortable due to ac problems

Continuing to run your air conditioning unit with frozen evaporator coils poses a significant risk, potentially leading to permanent damage to your entire cooling system. Neglecting to address and unfreeze the AC coils can result in system overheating, which may cause refrigerant leaks and damage to other components. Seek professional HVAC expertise to avoid such issues and prevent damage to your HVAC unit. Doing so ensures that your system operates correctly, saving you from costly repairs that may arise from neglecting your unit.

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How To Unfreeze Evaporator Coils in 7 Easy Steps

Keep reading to learn how to unfreeze your frozen AC coils without causing any damage to your unit.

1. Turn Off the Air Conditioner

If you suspect your AC coil is frozen, turn off your air conditioning system. Switching off the unit is necessary to proceed with any work needed or inspections and to prevent any potential damage to the air conditioning system or its components.

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2. Let the AC Unit Rest

image of a homeowner turning off thermostat due to frozen ac unit

Once you have turned off your air conditioning unit, observe if the evaporator coil starts to defrost on its own. Sometimes, allowing approximately 24 hours may allow the frozen coil to thaw naturally. However, this natural thawing process is only possible when the weather is warm and there is no immediate need for air conditioning.

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3. Check Your Air Filters

Before investigating the cause of a frozen AC coil, check your air filter. The AC air filter plays a vital role in removing dust, dander, allergens, and mold from the air.

The air filter can become clogged as it performs its filtration duties over time. This clogging impedes the proper airflow through your air conditioner. As a result, blockages in the airflow restrict the movement of warm air, leading to the formation of ice on different components of your air conditioner. So, inspecting and addressing any issues with your air filter is essential to ensure proper airflow and prevent a frozen AC coil.

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4. Switch On the AC Fan

The next step is to activate the fan of your air conditioner. Set your thermostat to the fan-only setting, making sure the cooling mode remains off while the fan is turned on. By doing so, warm air will be circulated over the evaporator coils, aiding in thawing the frozen coils.

Related Article: What’s The Difference Between A/C Condensers & Evaporator Coils?

5. Use a Hair Dryer

image of a hair dryer used to thaw frozen ac coil

If the fan fails to work, manually defrost your AC coils using a hair dryer. However, you must be cautious and avoid using the high setting. Using the high setting on your frozen coil may lead to the risk of coil damage or cracking.

Use the hair dryer on a low to medium heat setting, ensuring a safe distance and avoiding direct contact. Take your time and slowly apply heat to the frozen coils. The frozen air conditioner coils will usually thaw out within approximately twenty minutes.

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6. Let the Evaporator Coils Dry

After successfully thawing the evaporator coils and ensuring they are no longer frozen, allow them to dry thoroughly before turning on your air conditioner. Allowing the coils to dry thoroughly enables you to conduct further inspections and assess the underlying cause of the coil freezing issue.

Ensuring the coils are dry helps prevent additional ice buildup when the air conditioner is turned back on. To facilitate the drying process, you can activate the fan setting, which will help remove any excess moisture from the area surrounding the coils.

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7. Clean the AC Coils 

Clean and well-maintained evaporator coils are essential for the optimal performance of air conditioners. Once the coils have dried completely, you can proceed to clean them. Start by cleaning the area surrounding the outdoor unit.

Cleaning evaporator coils and the air conditioning unit is best left to HVAC professionals with the expertise and proper tools to ensure thorough cleaning. Entrusting this task to professionals is the final step in guaranteeing a well-functioning central air conditioning unit throughout the summer.

Related Article: Top 7 Things You Should Never Do To Your AC Unit

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Always Hire an HVAC Professional

Air conditioning units consist of various intricate components that demand the expertise of professional air conditioning experts. When the temperature rises, and the heat becomes unbearable, the need for prompt assistance from these experts becomes even more crucial. Their ability to swiftly address any issues ensures that your AC system operates efficiently and provides much-needed cooling during hot weather conditions.

Related Article: Signs You Have Air Quality Problems At Home

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At Lawes Company, we recognize the significance of a comfortable and energy-efficient home. To that end, we offer competitive pricing for our services. Our maintenance programs are designed to enhance your comfort while reducing energy bills. Should you require HVAC repairs or replacements, our knowledgeable technicians will recommend the best solutions that align with your budget. We stand behind our HVAC work and offer a satisfaction guarantee for your peace of mind.

Scheduling a service appointment with us is as easy as making a phone call. We provide free, in-home estimates to help you make informed decisions about your HVAC systems. You can place your trust in Lawes Company to provide exceptional heating and cooling services that meet and exceed your expectations. Don’t hesitate—call us now!

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