This time of year we are besieged with desperate phone calls from homeowners who have noticed their cooling systems not working properly or frozen up with ice. If this happens to you, turn the unit off immediately. Turn it off as soon as you can get to the thermostat! I know this is a tough request when it is hot outside, but if you continue to run an air conditioner that is not cooling up to par, you are going to do harm to your unit, waste your cooling energy dollars, and ultimately may permanently destroy your cooling system. I know this may seem hard to believe, but a large share of dead units we replace are killed by the owner refusing to turn it off when cooling is diminished. The one thing you can be assured of is, a broken air conditioner will never repair itself, no mater how long you continue to let it run. Never! Ever!
Many times customers will place a service call for no cooling and then continue to run their system thinking it might work a little until we get there to fix it. This is when most damage is done to the unit due to the lack of proper operating conditions. A unit that has frozen will do no cooling at all regardless of what common sense tells you and continued running in this condition will kill a compressor quickly. When you see ice anywhere on the refrigerant line set, you are seeing just the tip of an iceberg. The ice is covering the indoor coil preventing air from passing over the fins and it is five to six inches thick after continued operation. If you do not turn and let it thaw, you will burn out your compressor while wasting your money running a compressor that is not cooling your home. Also, if the unit is not thawed when the repairman arrives, he will not be able to find the problem and repair it properly.
A lot of customers will turn the unit off after it freezes and it will thaw and they turn it back on to find it cools again and they call our office and cancel their service call. This is a bad idea! What ever caused the icing will do it again after prolonged running and you will continue to damage your compressor . If you notice ice on your air conditioner, the first thing you should check is your air filter, as a dirty filter will cause icing and this is one of the most common problems we find. The other causes are a lack of Freon or refrigerant, a dirty indoor coil or a bad indoor fan motor. If any of these conditions are the cause of icing or lack of cooling, you must have a technician repair your unit.
One very simple thing you can do to check you air conditioner is go outside to your outdoor unit and carefully observe a few things. First, look for any ice anywhere on the unit, inside on the compressor or on the lines. Next see if there is hot air blowing out the top of your air conditioner. The hot air blowing out your unit is the heat being removed from your home and if the air is not hot, your unit is not cooling properly. The last thing you can do is located the large rubber covered line coming from your house and connecting to your cooling unit. It should always be cold and sweating water off the copper line inside the rubber insulation. If it is just cool to the touch and not sweating cold, you need service. This simply check and observation could save you thousands of dollars in energy costs and unit repair.