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3 Symptoms of a Frozen Evaporator Coil

An evaporator coil
An air conditioner accomplishes the actual job of cooling inside of the component known as the evaporator coil. One of the most common problems affecting evaporator coils involves the formation of ice around the outside of the coil. Unfortunately, many people fail to diagnose this problem because they don't know where their evaporator coil lies - let alone how to inspect it.

You can actually often diagnose a frozen evaporator coil indirectly by paying attention to other odd behaviors your system may have developed. If you would like to learn more about the sorts of problems caused by a frozen evaporator coil, keep reading. This article takes a closer look at three common signs that your evaporator coil may be frozen.

1. Decreased Cooling Efficiency

Evaporator coils may become frozen for a number of reasons - with excessive dirt, insufficient refrigerant, and clogged air filters being three of the most common reasons. Regardless of the particular cause, an frozen evaporator coil makes it harder for your air conditioner to do its job. The layer of ice makes it difficult for the refrigerant in the coil to absorb heat from your home's air.

At first, the decrease in cooling power may be relatively minor. Yet the thicker the layer of ice grows, the more significantly your system will be impacted. Eventually, you may find that, through your blower system keeps running, the air it pushes into your home doesn't feel cold at all. Generally speaking, the longer your system runs, the worse its cooling power will become.

2. Overworked Compressor

As cooling power decreases, the demands placed on your system will correspondingly increase. In other words, since your frozen evaporator coil won't be able to provide the requisite cool air, the system will run for longer periods of time in an attempt to compensate.

At first, the air conditioner may be able to make up for the lost efficiency in this manner. Eventually, however, your air conditioner will struggle to meet even the most basic cooling needs - no matter how long it runs.

In the meantime, the components inside of your backyard condensing unit will begin to suffer heightened wear and tear. The compressor, in particular, runs a high risk of damage due to frozen evaporator coils.

The compressor - essentially a small engine - acts to pressurize the gaseous refrigerant returning from the evaporator coil, and thus to ensure rapid passage through the rest of the system. If you have noticed that your compressor seems to be running much more frequently than usual, it may be trying to compensate for a frozen evaporator coil.

Constant running eventually causes a compressor to overheat and burnout. In addition, the compressor may become damaged through the phenomenon known as flooding, which involves refrigerant entering the compressor while still in its liquid state. As the compressor struggles to handle liquid refrigerant, damage often occurs to its internal valves and pistons.

3. Indoor Water Leaks

The ice on a frozen evaporator comes from water vapor that condenses on the outside of the coil. Such condensation happens naturally to all air conditioners. Normally, the water drips off the coil into a special pan, which conducts the water to a tube that leads the water safely out of the system.

So long as your system remains running, your frozen evaporator coil will produce very little water. Yet as soon as the air conditioner shuts down, the ice begins to melt. Often the amount of water proves too great for the drip pan to corral. Instead, the water runs out of the drainage system and often escapes into your home.

If you have noticed mysterious puddles of water appearing near your HVAC system's blower unit, you may be suffering from a frozen evaporator coil.

For professional assistance, please don't hesitate to contact the AC pros at Powers Heating & Cooling.