All types of air conditioners, from window units to central forced air systems, operate in the same way. As a result, they can suffer from similar issues. One of the most common and serious issues that can affect your air conditioner is freezing, in which condensation and water vapor form ice on your unit and impede its function. Understanding some of the most common reasons why your air conditioner may be freezing up can help you identify the underlying problem and have it fixed as quickly as possible.
One of the more common reasons why your air conditioner may have frozen is because of a refrigerant leak. Refrigerant leaks can occur because of rust developing on your air conditioner or physical damage breaking one of the lines that ensures the proper flow of refrigerant to your unit. As the refrigerant leaks out, it will chill and freeze ambient humidity in the area around your air conditioner. Once all of the refrigerant has leaked, however, your air conditioner will be completely unable to generate cool air and will simply act as a fan.
Another reason why your air conditioner may be freezing itself despite working normally otherwise is a problem with your thermostat's settings. An air conditioner that runs for too long because it is set to the wrong temperature or fan setting – or if the thermostat is malfunctioning and not working properly – can freeze rapidly. Try raising the temperature or manually turning the fan on and off instead of leaving it on auto to prevent the unit from working for too long; if freezing issues continue, get in touch with a contractor to inspect the thermostat.
An additional reason why your air conditioner may freeze is that the fan and blower system within the unit has stopped working properly. This can happen when the motor burns out or if the fan becomes physically damaged and no longer operates properly. In both of these cases, you will notice poor or no airflow from your air conditioner. Freezing will occur because the unit will continue to generate cold air, but that cold air will not be able to circulate and will concentrate around the unit. A professional inspection is necessary to determine the best course of action moving forward; sometimes, replacing the fan is possible, but if the damage is extensive and the motor is burned out, it may be cheaper to replace the entire unit.
For more information, get in touch with an air conditioner service company.