Don't Ice Block Your Air Conditioning!

Posted on: 2 October 2015

Whether you're dealing with the heat of summer or strange fluctuations as the seasons change, there's always the risk of having a day so unbearably hot that you crank the air conditioning to the coldest setting possible. Unfortunately, such aggressive temperature changes can come with a cost; sometimes at the risk of the entire air conditioning unit. If your air conditioning unit hasn't been pushing out enough cool air lately, consider what could be wrong and how the ice block hazard may ruin your unit if you're not careful. 

What Does Ice Blocking Mean?

Air conditioners have a complex process of evaporating cool liquids at high temperatures, then sending the still cool vapor throughout the building. The process requires a precision evaporating system and an extremely cool storage system for the cooled liquid.

When you lower the temperature of the air conditioning unit, you lower the temperature of the liquid and increase the workload of the air conditioning unit. At low temperatures (such as a setting of 60 degrees Fahrenheit or lower) and high power, there's a lot of cool temperatures around the air conditioning unit in general. When combined with a hot outside temperature, condensation or buildup of water from vapor can take place. 

Condensation is not a guarantee, and a setting of 60 degrees is not a specific temperature for condensation to take place. The required temperature for causing problems depending on the outside conditions as well as the air conditioner's temperature, but the problem can be detected early by listening for water being sucked through the air conditioning unit. 

The temperature inside the air conditioning unit is far lower than the air conditioning setting, and can freeze any condensation that builds up. Once this happens, many airflow, liquid flow and moving parts inside the air conditioning unit can freeze up and stop moving. The motor and fan assembly, for example, can freeze and burn out, requiring a full replacement. 

Ice forms inside the air conditioning unit, leading to the term ice blocking. It's possible to recover from ice blocking by turning off the air conditioning unit immediately and allowing it to thaw, but the symptoms are similar to other issues that can be confusing to air conditioner owners.

What Else Could Be The Problem?

Before ice blocking completely locks up an air conditioning unit, the airflow is weak because of the restricted movement inside the air conditioning unit. This can be interpreted as a few different issues, especially to a person who is looking for hot weather relief.

First it may seem like the temperature isn't low enough. One reaction may be to increase the fan power and lower the temperature, which could make the problem worse. Before doing that, check the air conditioning unit's air filter to make sure that it isn't blocked by dust.

Check the vents outside of the building and inside of the building as well, as dirt, insects or other debris could be blocking the air intake or exhaust. If all of these problem areas seem clean, turn off the air conditioning for a while and visit somewhere with air conditioning. When you return, test the air conditioning again.

If your air conditioning unit has completely ceased to produce cool air, contact an air conditioning repair technician (such as one from John Legg's Heating & Air Conditioning). It may still be recoverable, but turn the unit off and allow the technician to check the system for the best chances at recovery.