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Why Ice and Air Conditioners Don’t Mix

ice-air-conditioners-dont-mixIt’s only natural that you rely on your professional HVAC technician to give you expert advice when it comes to your air conditioning equipment. So, if you’ve ever been told that it’s normal to see ice anywhere on your air conditioner—after all, cold air and ice go together…right?—then you’ve been misinformed.

We can understand why you might believe that this is normal. You feel chilled air coming from the vents, and what’s more natural than to have ice in that process? Unfortunately, this is not a sign that your air conditioner is doing its job. On the contrary, it’s actually an indication that you need air conditioning repairs in San Antonio, TX. Ice and air conditioners certainly don’t mix, and this development is a serious one not to be ignored.

Understanding the Cooling Process

Air conditioners don’t use any method of freezing to cool your home. There’s literally no point in which your air conditioner uses ice or frost, and therefore it shouldn’t be a byproduct of the process. Air conditioners and heat pumps transfer heat from one location to another.

When in cooling mode, this means it removes heat from inside your home and moves it outside. This is made possible through the circulation of a chemical refrigerant blend, which evaporates and condenses in a heat exchange cycle. Although the refrigerant in the indoor evaporator coil is extremely cold, it shouldn’t trigger the creation of ice, because it warms up as it absorbs heat from the air.

“So if I Do See Ice, What’s Up?”

This is a logical question—and the answer is, it could be one of a number of potential issues. For example:

  • The Air Filter May Be Clogged: Your HVAC systems’ air filter is there to protect the inside components of the system, not necessarily your indoor air quality like many homeowners believe. If the air filter becomes too clogged, then insufficient warm air will be drawn over the evaporator coil. As a result, the coil will remain too cold and moisture will begin to freeze along it. The ice serves as an insulating barrier, eventually rendering your evaporator coil useless.
  • The Evaporator Coil Could Be Dirty: Dirt and debris also serve as an insulating barrier, restricting the coil’s ability to absorb heat. This will continue to leave the refrigerant too cold, and will again start to cause freezing.
  • You Have a Refrigerant Leak: Refrigerant loss is not normal. If you’re losing refrigerant, it means you have a leak—and this is a detrimental problem. A drop in refrigerant levels means a pressure change throughout the system that will damage your compressor. The reduced refrigerant level also hinders heat absorption on the evaporator coil.

Ice on a coil will only continue to increase, since ice prevents heat absorption. However, you do not want to try to scrap the ice off in order to resolve the issue. This will fail to solve the root of the problem, plus you may damage the coil beyond repair. Be sure to trust a professional for this type of work.

To schedule quality air conditioning services in the San Antonio area and beyond, simply contact Cowboys Air Conditioning & Heating today!

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