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There’s Ice on My AC—Is That Normal?

This is one of the most common confusions that people have about their residential air conditioning system: that ice is a normal, expected part of the cooling process. It’s understandable the people would have this misunderstanding. After all, if the AC is sending out cold air, doesn’t it make sense for ice to be involved?

But this isn’t how an air conditioner works! Ice is never part of how an AC lowers the temperature in a building. What an air conditioner does is move heat from one place to another, in this case moving it out of your home and releasing it to the outside. When ice appears, it means that something has gone wrong with this heat transference process. There are a number of possible causes for this:

Loss of refrigerant

Your air conditioner should maintain the same level of refrigerant (known as the AC’s charge) for its entire service life. It will only lose refrigerant if there are leaks. If this happens, ice will form along the coil, warning you about the refrigerant loss. The reason the ice forms is that the reduced amount of refrigerant in the coil won’t be able to absorb sufficient heat to warm up, leaving it so cold that it freezes water moisture along the coil.

Dirt on the coil

If dirt, dust, or general grime forms on the coil, it will insulate it from properly absorbing heat. This will trigger the same effect mentioned above: the refrigerant will be too cold and start causing water moisture to freeze.

Clogged air filter

During the seasons when you use the air conditioner regularly, you must change the system’s air filter ever 1 to 3 months. If the filter isn’t changed, it will become congested with debris and prevent sufficient warm air from entering the air conditioner. Once again, the refrigerant in the coil will be too cold and start to cause freezing.

If you see ice on your air conditioner, don’t try to scrape it off. This doesn’t address the root issue, and you might accidentally damage the coil. Instead call on repair professionals.

Malek Heating & Cooling is here for all your air conditioning needs in Skokie, IL.

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