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Sound Heating and Air Conditioning Inc. Blog

Why Ice Forms on Your Air Conditioner

The days are starting to heat up, and you’re probably going to be using your air conditioner to keep comfortable on a regular basis if you aren’t already. As you start to use your air conditioner more and more often, the added stress may cause problems for the system as the summer wears on. One of those problems is ice. Let’ take a look at why ice forms on your air conditioner, and why it’s a problem.

The Evaporator Coil

Your air conditioner cools your home by using a part called the evaporator coil. This coil is located in the inside unit, right below the air return duct. As warm air flows over the coil, the part evaporates refrigerant to siphon thermal energy out of it. The air temperature around the coil drops, and condensation forms on the coil during operation. Normally, the constant flow of warm air maintains the temperature enough for the condensate to remain liquid. Condensate normally drains off of the coil into a separate disposal line. If the flow of warm air is ever interrupted, though, the temperature around the coil will eventually drop to the point that it freezes.

Ice Problems

A frozen evaporator coil doesn’t have enough access to the air in the ducts to siphon thermal energy from it. This means that your air conditioner won’t be able to cool the home. That’s the mildest problem associated with coil ice, however. If the evaporator coil is frozen, there’s a chance that liquid refrigerant will make it through the coil and into the compressor. The compressor is designed to handle only gas, so liquid refrigerant will cause it to break down. The weight of the ice can also warp the evaporator coil. If you see ice on your AC, call for repairs immediately.

Sound Heating provides air conditioner repairs throughout Tacoma, WA. 

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