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Ambient Air Solutions Blog

Why There’s Ice on Your AC

Have you ever investigated your air conditioner when it’s not working properly and found a large chunk of ice growing on the coil? Before you give your air conditioner a big hug for working just so well that it made ice, we’d like to take a second to explain this phenomenon. Ice growing on your air conditioner is not a good thing, and we’ll explain why.

First, it’s important that you understand a little bit about the air conditioning process. We’ll cover how refrigerant works to cool your home and then talk about why ice might form when there’s a hiccup in that process. Just remember that when you need professional air conditioning repair in Big Sky, you call our team to address the problems in your system.

Ice build-up requires air conditioning repairs. Come straight to us and we’ll figure this problem out quickly and effectively.

The Cycle of Refrigerant

Before we can talk about how that ice got there in the first place, we need to talk about how your air conditioner works.

An air conditioner cycles refrigerant from one set of coils to another, constantly evaporating it and condensing it through pressure changes. When the refrigerant evaporates, it draws heat into it that cools the surrounding air. Then, when it condenses outside, it disperses that heat outdoors so it can be sent back into the atmosphere where it dissipates over time.

At no point in this process is ice supposed to form. Air conditioners are only supposed to cool things around 20° below the outside temperature, and as you’re aware, ice only grows at 32°F and below! So, how does ice form?

How Ice Forms on the Coil

Ice can form through a number of different problems, but they all exhibit the same symptom–the ice. Ice grows when the moisture in the air condenses in large amounts, while at the same time, the temperature inside of your air conditioner drops to a level that freezes it.

Remember, your air conditioner is designed to cool a vast volume of air in your home, and when it can’t do that, it ends up supercooling the air inside of the system or at the coil, which causes ice to form.

Here are two ways ice can grow on your AC’s coils.

1. Refrigerant Leaks

When refrigerant leaks out of your air conditioner, it is still expected to cool your home to a nominal level with less refrigerant. This means that the refrigerant must run through the cooling cycle for longer, which sometimes leads to it being unable to disperse enough heat outdoors and warm up properly. This can then lead to drops in temperature and the growth of ice on the coil of an air conditioning system.

2. Clogged Air Filters

If the air conditioner can’t get enough airflow, it can stagnate and have trouble sending cooled air into your home. That cooled air then remains inside of the system and starts to cool to levels that allow the condensing moisture from the atmosphere to turn to ice. Remember to change your system’s air filter so that it always has proper airflow going into it.

Need help with your AC? Call Ambient Air Solutions to have your problem addressed. Simplifying Heating & Cooling!

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