Considering how your air conditioner is supposed to be serving your home, it may be encouraging to see ice forming on the system. Unfortunately, air conditioner ice is actually not a sign that your system is performing well. Quite the opposite, in fact. Air conditioner ice is the result of a problem with the system, one that can eventually cause the entire thing to break down. Let’s take a look at what causes air conditioner ice, and how to prevent it.
Why It Happens
The air conditioner removes heat from your home by using a part called the evaporator coil. This coil evaporates refrigerant in order to draw heat out of the air the ducts blow over it. The air temperature around the coil is perpetually dropping while the air conditioner is on, but the constant flow of warm air maintains a balance and prevents the coil from freezing. Condensate also forms on the coil as the air around it is cooled past the dew point. Right before the evaporator coil is the air filter, which is responsible for protecting the system from airborne debris that might damage it. If the air filter is not changed often enough, however, it will become so clogged that the flow of air to the coil will be cut off.
Without the flow of warm air to maintain a temperature balance around the coil, the condensate on it will freeze and the part will ice over. While the coil is covered in ice, it will be unable to leech thermal energy from the air in your home. The efficiency of the air conditioner will drop as a result. If the ice isn’t cleaned off in time, it can spread to other parts of the system and eventually cause a breakdown.