How Exactly Does An Air Conditioner Freeze When It Is Hot Outside?

Posted on: 3 June 2016

Few air conditioning problems are more baffling than when your air conditioning is frozen and it is boiling hot outside. How does that happen when it is so hot outside? The unfortunate truth is it does happen and it is a sign you have a big problem that needs to be fixed. Here are some of the more common reasons why an air conditioner freezes and how you can get them fixed.

Why Do Air Conditioners Freeze?

Air conditioners work by cooling the warm air flowing over the cooling coil within the air handler. The warm air condenses within the cooling coil, and this should drain into the drain line and leave the house. When the system isn't working properly, the coil's temperature gets so low that the water starts to freeze around it. It doesn't drain away, creating a clog and making the situation worse.

There are two main reasons for this to happen: the unit is clogged somewhere to start with or you've used it for too long throughout the day or week. You'll notice if the system has frozen because you'll no longer get any cold air out of your unit. While the thermostat may say one temperature, your home may be much warmer than that.

How Can This Happen When It's Hot Out?

This problem makes sense when it is cool outside, but how does this happen when it is so hot? This happens because the inside of your AC unit is not affected by the outdoor temperature. In fact, the coil utilizes a coolant to keep cool despite the warm weather. The temperature of the inside of your AC unit should remain the same, except when it freezes because something isn't working right.

It Could Be Leaking Coolant

Another common reason for a freezing unit is due to leaking coolant. This will lead to the unit not having enough coolant, which causes the system to freeze. The unit isn't able to absorb the heat, so the coolant and coil drop in temperature. A build-up of water within the system then turns to ice, and this creates a blockage.

Running your unit when the temperature is below 62 degrees, according to ASM-Air, will mean the system pressure drops and the unit starts to freeze. You should always turn your unit off when it isn't needed.

You can protect your AC unit from freezing. You can do this by only using it when it is hot outside and making sure you don't have a coolant leak. If you find yourself with a freezing problem, turn the AC off until you can get it fixed by an air and heating repair technician.


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