How to Unfreeze Your AC Unit

How to Unfreeze Your AC Unit

Why AC Units Freeze Up

Before we jump into the steps for unfreezing an AC unit, it’s important to understand why this happens. The most common reason AC units freeze up is a lack of proper airflow. Airflow is crucial for any AC unit, as it allows the system to regulate temperature and humidity. When the airflow is blocked, the evaporator coil inside the AC unit can get too cold and cause condensation to freeze over it.

Another common cause of AC unit freeze-up is low refrigerant levels. Refrigerant is the substance that cools the air in your AC unit. If there is not enough refrigerant, it can cause the evaporator coil to get too cold and freeze.

In addition, dirty air filters can impede airflow and cause the AC unit to freeze up. It’s important to regularly check and replace air filters to ensure proper functioning of the unit.

Now that we understand what causes AC units to freeze up, let’s dive into the steps to unfreeze them.

Step 1: Turn Off The AC Unit

The first step to unfreeze an AC unit is to turn it off completely. This will prevent any further condensation from forming and allow the frozen components to defrost. It’s important not to force any frozen components as this can cause damage to the AC unit.

Step 2: Check Air Filters

After turning off the AC unit, check the air filters to see if they are dirty or clogged. If they are, replace them with new ones to allow for proper airflow. This simple step can prevent future AC unit freeze-ups.

Step 3: Check For Any Blockages

Once you have checked the air filters, inspect the vents to ensure that they are not blocked by any furniture, curtains, or other objects that may be obstructing the airflow. Move any obstructions from the vents to allow for proper airflow.

Step 4: Wait For The Unit To Thaw

After performing the above steps, it’s time to wait for the unit to defrost. Depending on the severity of the freeze-up, this can take anywhere from a few hours to a whole day. Be patient and avoid turning on the AC unit until it is completely thawed.

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Step 5: Turn On The Unit

Once the unit is completely thawed, it’s time to turn it on again. Start by setting the temperature to a few degrees above the room temperature and observe if the unit is working correctly. If not, it may be time to call in a professional for help.


Now that you understand the common causes of AC unit freeze-ups and how to unfreeze them, you can keep your home cooling system running smoothly. Remember to regularly check and replace air filters, avoid blocking vents, and be patient when thawing frozen components. By following these simple steps, you can prevent future AC unit freeze-ups and keep your home comfortable all year round.

Check the Air Filter

One of the first things you should check if your AC unit freezes up is the air filter. A dirty or clogged air filter can restrict airflow and cause the evaporator coil to freeze over. This is because airflow is essential for the evaporator coil to absorb the heat from the air and cool your home.

If you have a dirty air filter, it can cause the air to bypass the filter altogether. This can lead to dust, dirt, and debris building upon the evaporator coil. The dirt and debris will then clog up the coil, causing the air to freeze and the unit to shut down.

The solution is to clean or replace your air filter regularly. Most air filters can be removed by simple tabs or sliding cover panels. Once removed, the air filter can be vacuumed or washed, depending on the type of filter.

If your filter is too clogged and beyond cleaning, you will need to replace it with a new one. Regularly cleaning or replacing your air filter is essential to the proper functioning of your AC unit and preventing it from freezing up.

Turn Off the AC

If your air conditioning system has frozen up, the first step you need to do is turn off the AC. Continuing to run the unit can lead to further damage to the system, reduce its efficiency, and even cause electrical hazards. You can switch off the AC through its thermostat or by unplugging the unit directly from the power source. Wait for several hours before turning it back on.

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Don’t be tempted to try and fix the problem by removing the ice with a sharp tool as it can cause damage to the components. Also, be aware that if you turn on the fan without waiting for the ice to melt, the air will not blow through the frozen coils, leaving you with no cold air coming out of the vents.

If you’re going to be away from the house, it’s recommended that you turn off the thermostat or set it to a higher temperature to save money on your energy bill while giving the unit time to thaw out.

Clean the Outdoor Unit

One of the primary reasons for an AC unit to freeze is the obstruction or blockage in the outdoor unit that restricts the flow of air through the system. Debris, such as dirt, leaves, and grass clippings, can accumulate on the fins of the unit, preventing efficient heat transfer and causing the system to overwork. This overworking of the system may eventually cause it to freeze up, making it less effective in cooling your home. Therefore, it’s crucial to keep your AC’s outdoor unit clean and free of any obstructions or debris.

The first step in cleaning the outdoor unit is to turn off your AC to avoid any potential electrical hazards. Next, start by removing any large debris like leaves or branches from the top of the unit. After that, use a garden hose to wash away any accumulated dirt or debris from the fins. Be gentle with the fins as they can easily bend, and any damage to them can affect the AC’s performance. If you notice any stubborn dirt, a specialized AC fin comb or soft-bristled brush can help you remove them.

Once you’ve cleaned the fins, remove any grass or weeds growing around the unit and trim back any nearby shrubs or branches that could obstruct the airflow. A clear path will allow adequate airflow, contributing to the proper working of the AC system. Finally, wipe down the exterior of the unit with a clean, damp cloth. This step will guarantee that any remaining dust or dirt has been removed before you reactivate the unit.

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By following these steps, you’ll keep your AC’s outdoor unit clean and free of obstructions, ensuring that it works more efficiently and lasts longer without the risk of freezing up.

Call a Professional

If you have tried all the DIY solutions and your AC unit is still frozen, or you are not comfortable fixing the issue yourself, it’s time to call a professional. A certified technician will be able to identify the root cause of the problem and provide a professional solution to get your AC unit back up and running.

While it may be tempting to try and fix the issue yourself, it’s important to remember that your AC unit is a complex and delicate system that requires professional expertise to repair. Attempting to fix the problem without the necessary training or experience can cause more damage to your unit, leading to even more expensive repairs in the long run.

When selecting a technician to diagnose and repair your frozen AC unit, look for someone who is licensed, insured and experienced in working with your particular make and model. You can check with your local Better Business Bureau to ensure the technician has a good reputation and has no unresolved complaints from previous customers.

Keep in mind that preventative maintenance is key to keeping your AC unit working properly. Regular inspections and tune-ups can help prevent issues from arising in the first place, saving you time, money and frustration down the road.

By calling a professional to take care of your frozen AC unit, you can rest easy knowing that your system is in good hands and will be ready to keep you cool and comfortable when you need it most.

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