Over-Chilled AC
February 29, 2004 6:23 AM   Subscribe

Is a frozen air conditioner thingy outside the house a problem? How do I fix it?
posted by ajpresto to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
It looks like you might have a freon leak, or a faulty evaporator coil.

Either way, it's better to get an estimate from an HVAC center, rather than tangle with it yourself. Freon can be pretty nasty when inhaled or in close exposure to the eyes.
posted by Smart Dalek at 6:59 AM on February 29, 2004

Would it matter if I told you that it was really cold here recently? And that my truck looked like that for a little while on the same day? My truck thawed very fast, though, where that's still messed up a few days later.

And the system is only like 3 years old. Bummer.

And and, I won't mess with it if it's a leak of some sort. Ain't my bag.
posted by ajpresto at 7:15 AM on February 29, 2004

Seeing that much condensation on the grillwork, even in winter, is unusual.

Hopefully, it may be an odd fluke of the weather. Seeing how the ground area wasn't heavily frosted, however, it's possible the cold had caused a component to snap (worst case scenario).

Here in New York, plumbing has frozen in a number of homes, but most central air units have fared unscathed. Wait till the thaw to assess things.
posted by Smart Dalek at 7:44 AM on February 29, 2004

Is this strictly used for a/c or for heat as well?
If it is used for heat, my first guess is that you have a frozen heat pump - your coils have frozen and your heat pump might not be able to defrost. So what could be happening is this: your auxiliary heat (your furnace inside) is running to keep you warm and toasty. Simultaneously your heat pump is trying to defrost but cannot. (You might notice an increase in your electric bill due to this.)
Perhaps your thermostat, a switch or a plunger is frozen in place. Your owner's guide should have a troubleshooting and corrective action guide to follow. Or, of course, the guide is probably available through the manufacturer's web site. I'd recommend immediate action if you use this for heat. If not, it should just thaw out eventually. Have you heard it cycle off and on at all?
posted by TomSophieIvy at 10:34 AM on February 29, 2004

I have not had that happen to my grill work, but it has happened to the run of copper tubing leading into the house. If I shut off the system until it thaws, it works fine afterwords. Happened twice in 8 years.
posted by thirteen at 10:44 AM on February 29, 2004

This unit is also a heater. Today has been a warm day so the unit has not had to activate. But, I have been receiving heat from somewhere. It's entirely possible that TomSophieIvy's assessement is correct.

I'm just a little gun shy in calling the heater folks since the last time they came out they charged me $95 to tell me that nothing was wrong.. it was just warm outside, that's why it wasn't cool inside.
posted by ajpresto at 12:34 PM on February 29, 2004

clean it. on a warm day, when the frost is gone, turn your garden hose on it and give it a good blasting. if you can get the housing off, even better. these things suck incredible amounts of pollen, dust, grass clippings, insects, you name it - it's probably in there. used to be i called for maintenance whenever the tubing froze up and the unit quit cooling, now i know it's just time for a good hosing out. (disclaimer: this info applies to a standard a/c unit. i have no idea about a heat pump unit, except that its conceptually the same thing running in reverse, it would seem either way they need to breathe.)
posted by quonsar at 2:22 PM on February 29, 2004

That looks like a heat pump. They sometimes freeze over in cold weather, but should defrost themselves periodically. If it doesn't defrost, it can't exchange heat effectively and your system will start running on auxiliary heat (very inefficient and costly).

Take a look here for more information on your problem as well as other tips on heat pumps. (I'm not affiliated with this site -- it's the first thing that popped up on Google.)
posted by joaquim at 3:03 PM on February 29, 2004

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