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What Causes Air Conditioner Ice, and Why It’s a Problem

The more you rely on your air conditioner as the summer gets closer, the more likely it is that problems will develop with the system. As long as you were sure to schedule preventive maintenance earlier in the year, you shouldn’t have any serious issues crop up. Still, it’s a good idea to know when to call for professional help with your air conditioner. One of those times is when you notice ice forming on the system. Read on to find out more about air conditioner ice, and why it’s a problem.

Causes of Ice

In order to understand where the ice comes from, you first need to know how your air conditioner cools your home. An air conditioner produces cool air by evaporating refrigerant in an evaporator coil, which absorbs thermal energy. While the air conditioner is on, air from the ducts is passed over the evaporator coil and is cooled by the evaporating refrigerant. Condensation forms on the coil as the air temperature drops past the dew point, and passes out of the system through a condensate drain.

If the flow of air to the coil is interrupted, as happens with a broken air handler or a clogged air filter, that’s when things start to degrade. The air temperature around the air coil drops, causing the condensate to freeze. Over time, the ice can eventually spread to cover the entire coil.

Problems Ice Causes

A frozen evaporator coil can’t siphon heat from the air, so your air conditioner won’t be able to cool your home properly. Liquid refrigerant might be able to escape the coil under these circumstances, making it to the compressor and causing it to break down. Eventually the entire system could break down because of the ice on the coil. This is why you need to call for repairs as soon as you see ice on your air conditioner.

Magnolia Plumbing, Heating & Cooling offers air conditioner repairs in Washington, DC.

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