If you’ve noticed ice or frost on your outdoor air conditioning system, you definitely have a problem. Your system is out of balance. Here are the primary causes of an iced-up unit.
Your AC is gasping for air
Fixing this could be as simple as changing your filters. Filters are there to remove debris and pollution from your system. When they get choked up, your system has to work harder to move air.
Change your filter regularly. When you run your AC more often, more air flows through and filters collect more stuff.
Your AC is a sealed system, which means refrigerant should never leak out. If you’re losing refrigerant, you either have a leak or an installation problem.
You can “top it off” but the issue won’t go away. Your technician should identify the problem and solve it. Leak checking can be quite difficult depending on the size and location of the leak.
So, you want to be cool. Really cool. So you set your thermostat to 65 degrees inside.
Some higher end systems have internal controls to manage temperature extremes but most systems do not. Now there’s ice on the system and it’s working at lower capacity, or not at all.
Your AC is specifically designed to work within a narrow range of temperatures. It’s an air conditioner, not a refrigerator! Setting your thermostat to less than 70 degrees is likely to make your system work too hard, freeze up and possibly die.
On the flip side if it’s cold outside and you still want to run your AC, you still may have an issue. Air conditioners are not typically designed to run when it’s lower than about 55-60 degrees outside. If it’s too cold outside, refrigerant acts differently than your system is designed for and your AC will work too hard, freeze up and possibly die.
What’s the best thing to do?
OK, so your AC isn’t working the way it’s supposed to. Here’s what to do:
1. Shut it off.
2. Set your thermostat back to a reasonable temperature.
3. Change your filters.
4. Wait for the ice to melt before you try to switch the system on again.
5. If none of that works, call your friendly local service company. Have your system checked for leaks or mechanical issues.
Have your system checked when you first notice trouble. It may save you more expensive repairs later on. Ask your technician to leave you some extra filters on your next scheduled maintenance and show you how to change them or ask him or her to come back and change them for you. Your AC will thank you.
Preventative care is better than an emergency room visit.
Should you have annual maintenance service on your air conditioner? In a word, yes. Here are my top reasons why.
You will be less likely to suffer the inconvenience of a system breakdown. A system that is running well doesn’t have to work as hard and is more likely to keep running. Instead of replacing parts when they fail, you can replace them at your convenience.
Repairs that are less costly
Often parts fail over a period of time, from a few minutes to many weeks. Parts that are failing can increase stress on other parts, causing them to fail too.
It’s important for your service professional to look at the whole system. A part may have failed on its own, but it may also have failed because another part is failing. You pay less when you make repairs before they fail, and cause others to fail too.
Lower energy bills
A well-running system uses less energy to do the same amount of work. This savings will help to offset the cost of maintenance.
Longer equipment life
A well-running system will last longer. This spreads the cost of the system over more years, lowering the annual cost.
Safer, healthier indoor environment
Replacing filters and cleaning indoor equipment makes your indoor environment cleaner and healthier. Keep your eyes open for an upcoming blog post on ways that a properly running system is safer.
Most major equipment manufacturers require annual maintenance to keep your warranty in effect.
Your service professional will be able to inform you as your system nears the end of its useful life. You can be in control and replace your equipment at your convenience, instead of having to make a crisis replacement. You can choose the replacement system that’s exactly what you want, and not whatever happens to be available during an emergency.
Take control of your health, your safety, and your home comfort by investing in the proper care of your equipment.