A frozen air conditioner can be frustrating to find. You rely on your air conditioner all summer long to keep your home cool and comfortable. When it’s covered in a sheet of ice, it can be a real headache. It is also worth noting that both your indoor and outdoor unit can become iced over. So, what do you do when you find your air conditioner iced over? This guide from Meade HVAC will help you get your AC back up and running so you can relax. 


Why Do Air Conditioners Freeze?


Air conditioners can freeze for a variety of reasons. These include:


  • Blocked Airflow – If the coils in your system don’t receive sufficient air flow, they can freeze. 


  • Fan Speed – If the fan speed is too low, the air going into your system will be cold and can contribute to an AC freeze. 


  • Lack of Filter Change and Maintenance – Clogged filters block airflow. When warmer air doesn’t pass over the coils, it can freeze. 


  • Refrigerant Levels – Low refrigerant levels can leade to your AC icing over. 


  • Thermostat Malfunctions – A thermostat is a common cause of air conditioner freezes. A thermostat malfunction can cause your system to work too hard, affect the air flow, and lead to ice on the coils. 


  • Issues with the Condensate Drain – A blocked condensate drain can trap water. When the water meets cold refrigerant, it can cause a freeze. 


Each of these issues requires a different fix, so it can be tricky to repair on your own. It is best to call on a certified HVAC contractor like Meade HVAC. However, you can work on thawing your frozen air conditioner. 


Steps to Thaw a Frozen Air Conditioner 


When your air conditioner is iced over, the first step to resolving the issue is to thaw the unit. This can take between 1-48 hours to accomplish (depending on how much ice buildup there is). However, simply thawing the unit will not completely solve the issue. If you continue to run it after it is thawed, you could make whatever issue caused the freeze worse. To ensure the problem is resolved, be sure to have a Meade HVAC professional diagnose and repair the issue. 

  • Look for Warning Signs

The first step to protecting your air conditioner is to know the warning signs and try to prevent your unit from freezing in the first place. There are a variety of signs that there may be an issue with your system that could lead to it freezing. 


  • The system starts blowing warm air
  • You see ice on the outside of the air conditioning unit
  • Your AC unit isn’t reaching the desired thermostat setting
  • You notice an increase in your electric bill
  • There is water leaking around your unit
  • There is condensation around the air handler. 
  • You hear a hissing or bubbling noise
  • The air conditioner’s coils are covered in ice
  • You see ice on the outside of the AC Unit


  1. Turn the Thermostat from COOL to OFF. 


When your system is iced over, it means that the refrigerant in your system is colder than it should be. The compressor within your system should only recieve the refrigerant in gas form. When it recieves refrigerant in liquid form, it freezes the system. The first step to stop this process is to swither your thermostat from COOL to OFF. This will stop your system from sending the liquid refrigerant that is freezing your system to your compressor. 


  1. Turn the Fan ON


You need some sort of warmth to melt the ice covering your unit. This is what turning on your fan does. It will continuously pull warm air from your home and blow it over the coils to help the ice thaw faster. Make sure that you set it to ON rather than AUTO. If it is on AUTO, it will only run on cooling cycles, but becuase your turned your system from COOLING to OFF, it won’t be running through any cycles.  By setting it to ON, it will ensure that the fan runs continuously. 


While you waiting for the unit to thaw, there are a few other concerns to watch out for.


  • Overflowing Drain Pan  – If there is is a lot of ice, there is a chance that the water could overflow the drain pan. Prevent water damage to your home by putting towels down around the unit. 


  • Clogged Condensate Drain – If there is dirt buildup in your condensate drain line, the excess water can overflow. If the drain is clogged, try to clear it before you thaw the system. The professionals at Meade HVAC can also help you, if you need assistance to unclog the condensate drain line. 


  1. Check Air Filter


Dirty air filters is the most common causes of a frozen air conditioner. Therefore, it is a good idea to check the filter before you investigate deeper into other causes. It also gives you something to work on while you wait for your air conditioner to thaw. Checking your filter right after you turn off your thermostat will also help avoid a dirty puddle from forming. 


When Should I Change the Filter? 


If your filter is covered in a layer of dust, it is time for it to be changed. If you are unsure, it is always better to play it on the safe side and change it before it needs it. Letting it go too long can cause major issues with your HVAC system. You can also call Meade HVAC in Chester Springs if you have any questions or need assistance changing your filter.


It is important to keep up with routine filter maintenance. When the filter is clogged, the air won’t be able to get through and suffocate your system. The evaporator coil will get colder and colder if it doesn’t have warm air flowing over it. When the cold meets moisture in the air, your unit will get iced. 


What Do I Do After I Change the Filter?


If your filter was clogged and does seem like the cause of the problem, you can turn your air conditioner back on and run the air normally. However, you will want to keep a close eye on your system over the next few days. If anything seems out of the ordinary turn off your system again and call Meade HVAC for assistance. If you checked the filter and it was mostly clean, you will need to investigate further. 


  1. Call the Professionals at Meade HVAC


Calling on a professional is the best way to ensure the problem gets diagnosed and repaired properly. When you call on Meade HVAC in Chester, Pennsylvania, you can count on a knowledgeable and friendly service. Our goal is to keep you and your family comfortable and satisfied. 


What Will a Meade HVAC Technician Do When They Visit My Home?


When a Meade HVAC technician visits your home, they will treat it with respect. They will inspect the various parts of your system so that they can determine the source of the issue. They will likely check the filter, draining components, the coils, refrigerant, etc. Once, they have figured out the cause, they will inform you about their findings and provide appropriate solutions. 


They will provide any other necessary tasks to get your AC back up and running healthily such as cleaning the coils, adjusting refrigerant levels, and cleaning the drain components. Finally they will help you turn your air conditioner back on and make sure it seems to be running properly.  


Preventing Your System From Freezing Again


A frozen air condition can be stressful to deal with. Help prevent your AC from freezing again by using these helpful tips from Meade HVAC. 


  • Get a Humidistat – Pennsylvania can get pretty humid. High humidity increases the likelihood of your system freezing. A humidistat can help control humidity in your home to help you avoid AC freezes. It can also help you avoid mold and mildew in your home. 


  • Keep Up with Filter Changes – As mentioned before, dirty filters are a common issue that causes your air conditioner to ice over. By diligently changing your filter when necessary, you can avoid a variety of issues, not just AC freezes. 


  • Schedule Regular Maintenance – You will also want to schedule preventative maintenance with Meade HVAC. This will help you keep your HVAC system working in optimum shape and allow you to catch small issues before they turn into expensive problems. 


  • Use a Smart Thermostat to Adjust to Weather – A smart thermostat or programmable thermostat can also help you conveniently adjust the conditions in your home to prevent freezes. For instance, if the nights are cool, you can set the thermostat to turn off your air conditioner at night. 


Some causes of AC freezes can be easily avoided while other causes are somewhat unavoidable. No matter what the cause of your air conditioner issues are, Meade HVAC has your back. Our services are only a phonecall away if you need fast and friendly help to get your system back up and running.