Breakdowns – How to Handle an Overloaded Air Conditioner

On scalding hot days, the thought of anything being frozen is a nice idea, especially when thinking about ice cream, and freezing icy treats. However, when it is the air conditioner that is freezing up due to a malfunction from being overloaded, life inside the home can quickly become a miserable experience.

Usually, an overloaded, broken-down air conditioner will malfunction at the most critical time of the year. The breakdown is usually a result of the extreme change in temperature. To determine whether the air conditioner has overloaded, the homeowner simply needs to look at the A/C coils to see if their home’s unit has frozen up.

The Problem

The frozen component is usually a result of the restriction of flowing air over the coil. It is this part of the process that allows the air to drop in temperature. However, when the airflow is restricted, the coil temperature can quickly drop below the freezing point (32°F). When this happens, the condensation and humidity freeze up. If the unit does not automatically stop on its own by tripping the breaker, it is critical that the homeowner shut off their air conditioning system immediately. Any prolonged amount of time that the unit continues to operate can cause significant damage to the A/C compressor.

Potential Causes

If the coils of your air conditioner continue to freeze, it might be due to dirty air filters. Often times, when an air filter is too dirty, it can quickly restrict the airflow across the unit’s evaporator coils. In time, the reduced amount of airflow will allow the evaporator coils to become very cold causing the condensation and humidity to freeze up. Other issues that could be causing the problem include a refrigerant leak, or sealed system leak. These types of repairs are usually very expensive. To determine if any of these potential causes are affecting the air-conditioning system, it is important to have a qualified licensed HVAC technician check out the unit.

There are various reasons that the air conditioning unit can freeze up, including a lack of maintenance, broken parts, or overuse. The easiest way to avoid having an A/C overload is to evaluate and inspect the system on a routine basis. Performing scheduled HVAC maintenance on the entire system can help it run efficiently and at full capacity. When the compressor, the metering device, expansion valve, blower, and evaporator coil work in proper unison, overloading will not happen.

Posted February 1st, 2013 under Air Conditioning, Tips | Comments Off