Why Is There Ice on My Air Conditioner?

Have you ever noticed frost or ice on your air conditioner? Air conditioner units are designed to lower temperatures. So, it might seem logical that if your air conditioner is working extra hard to do a great job of cooling, there might be some occasional ice on the unit. Especially in Arizona during the summer, with temperatures soaring into triple digits and AC units running full tilt, a little ice might appear to be a good thing. Unfortunately, ice on your air conditioner is an indication of a problem.

Two Main Reasons for Ice on Your Air Conditioner

There are two main reasons for your air conditioner icing up. The most common cause is low refrigerant due to a leak within the system. Arizona summers push air conditioners to the limit. The constant wear and tear and relentless vibration coupled with high winds, dust storms and other factors can cause fittings to loosen and result in refrigerant leaks. A second cause for ice on your AC unit has to do with dusty, dirty coils. Both of these issues are best handled by an experienced technician with the proper tools to solve the issue.

What Is Refrigerant and How Does It Affect My AC Unit?

In creating a comfortable environment for your home, refrigerant is essential to the cooling process. Refrigerant, sometimes referred to as freon, R22, R410A or R134, transforms from a gas to a liquid and back again in an endless cycle, working with the other components of your unit to:

  • Lower the temperature of the cooling coils
  • Transfer heat from inside your home, which is blown outside as exhaust
  • Force cooled air into your home through your AC vents

If there is a leak or you are low on refrigerant, the temperature will drop significantly on the coils containing the refrigerant. Condensation from the humidity in the air will form ice on the coils. As the ice increases on your coils it makes the unit work harder and harder to maintain the cool temperature in your home. If not detected, you will notice your air conditioner working harder and longer to maintain cool in the home. Eventually, this condition can lead to serious problems for your air conditioning system.

Dust and Debris in Your AC Unit

With monsoon season in full swing, desert dust storms kick up dirt, dust and debris which can clog up the filters and coils in your air conditioner. Dirty, dusty coils are also a cause of inefficient air flow which can, in turn, cause ice on your air conditioner.

The Best Solution Is to Call in the Professionals

Many homeowners do their best to maintain their AC units by replacing air filters on a timely basis. However, this is only one part of an overall maintenance program. If you’ve detected frost or ice on your air conditioner, or if you noticed your AC unit working harder to maintain the same temperature in your home, call Bruce’s Air Conditioning and Heating today. We proudly serve the greater Phoenix area providing prompt service and expert advice for keeping your HVAC running smoothly year-round.