4 steps to fixing a frozen AC unit

Your air conditioner should be effective in cooling down your office or home. But there is such a thing as too cold – an ice-clad AC unit won't do its job, plus it's at risk of sustaining damage if the problem is not fixed quickly or correctly.

Luckily, there are some simple steps you can take to remedy your frozen air conditioner and get your space back to a comfortable climate.

1. Confirm the problem

If you suspect frozen coils in your AC unit, the first thing you'll need to do is make sure that is indeed the problem. If the unit is expelling air that's slightly warm or not at its set temperature, this is a good indication that this is the issue.

"If you see ice surrounding the coils or the panel itself, this will need to be melted."

Turn off the unit and locate the evaporator panel, American Home Shield advised. Check the manufacturer's system diagram to find out where this is. If you see ice surrounding the coils or the panel itself, it will need to be melted.

2. Disconnect the power

Once you've confirmed that there is ice inside your AC unit, you'll need to begin the thawing process. Turn off the power to the unit from the electrical breaker.

3. Use a heat gun to melt the ice

The ice encasing your coils needs to be removed, but there are good and bad methods to approaching this task. Never use ice picks, hammers or similarly sharp tools to manually remove buildup. You could puncture or otherwise damage important tubes and fixtures inside the unit. Instead, you'll need to let it melt.

A heat gun works well to quickly remove the ice, according to The Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration NEWS. It's much faster than letting the unit thaw naturally at room temperature. And it's far less messy or difficult than using warm water to rid the coils of ice. Additionally, a temperature-controlled device, like the Deluxe Varitemp® Heat Gun, will allow you to maintain the ideal heat setting throughout the task, avoiding issues with overheating the unit or materials around it.

4. Determine why it froze

Once you've rid the unit of ice, it's time to get to the bottom of the issue. There was a reason ice formed, and turning the air conditioner back on without finding this reason may just result in another freeze. Check the coils, filters, cooling fins and other fixtures inside the unit to make sure they're free of dust and debris. If they look dirty, clean or replace them as needed.

Next, make sure the coolant is at a healthy level. A coolant installation kit will help you determine this.

Finally, if you think there is a leak in the refrigeration system or another mechanical problem, reach out to an HVAC professional for assistance.

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