If you give your air conditioner a casual glance, you may notice that frost or ice has formed on the coils. Most people don’t think much of it. After all, aren’t air conditioners supposed to be cold? Unfortunately, the truth is more complicated than that, and while it might not seem like much, ice forming on your air conditioning coils signals a significant problem with your system. Now is the time to get it addressed, before the temperatures get any warmer.
What Causes It?
The ice forms for any number of reasons. It’s often caused by a leak in the refrigerant, but it can also be caused by anything from a faulty fan motor to an excess of humidity in the air. It represents a fundamental imbalance in the delicate process by which the system cools the air. Refrigerant cycles through an endless loop in your system: beginning in gaseous form before shifting into liquid form and being subjected to a great deal of pressure. The pressurized liquid then enters the evaporator coils, where it shifts back to gaseous form: pulling heat from the surrounding air in the process. The cool air can then be blown into your home through the ducts, while the gaseous refrigerant returns to the start of the cycle.
When problems arise, the cooling process is out of balance and the frost forms. This is problematic for two reasons. First, the ice itself represents lost cooling potential that should be going into your home. More importantly, it forms an insulating barrier between the remaining refrigerant and the air it’s trying to cool. That means the system must work much harder to do its job. Monthly bill will go up and the remainder of the system will be put under additional strain: raising the chances of a more serious breakdown.
And it doesn’t stop there. The situation will continue to worsen as more ice forms, forcing the system to work harder and harder until a breakdown is inevitable. Considering the high temperatures that dominate Southern California every summer, that likely means a system shutdown just when you need a reliable air conditioner the most.
What to Do About It
The first instinct may be to simply scrape the ice off of the coils, which would be a huge mistake. In the first place, it treats the symptom, not the cause, which means the ice will just reform a short while later. More importantly, you could easily damage the coils themselves, forcing them to be replaced. That can turn a relatively easy repair job (such as sealing a leak and recharging the refrigerant) into a costly operation very easily.
Instead, when you spot frost on your coils, turn the system off and call in a professional repair service. They have the training, experience and formal licensing to diagnose the problem properly and correct it so that it stays fixed.
For quality air conditioning repair services here in Ontario, CA, call the friendly professionals at Avis Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc.