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Will My Air Conditioner Freeze This Winter?

Florida is famous for our winters, in particular how warm, sunny, and enjoyable they are. It’s not uncommon for Florida residents to enjoy the holiday season with trips to the beach, playing a round of golf, or simply enjoying the nearly-perfect weather while much of the rest of the country has to deal with feet of snow and icy temperatures.

However, some people are often worried about their air conditioner freezing over during winter months. If your system is called into action (which is possible), will the cooler temperatures outside cause your air conditioner to freeze, leaving you scrambling to fix the issue? The answer: almost certainly not.

First off, we need to quell a myth—your air conditioner doesn’t freeze over because of low temperatures outside. In fact, when it’s cold outside, you’re more than likely not even going to be running your air conditioner anyway, so why would it freeze over? The truth is, it’s actually far more likely to freeze over on sweltering hot days, where you’re going to be running your air conditioner continuously to try and stay cool. Thus, the odds of your air conditioner freezing over this winter are extraordinarily small, barring a sudden heat wave sending temperatures surging and forcing you to fire up your air conditioner to nearly peak-summer levels.

What Causes Your Air Conditioner to Freeze?

A frozen air conditioner is a condition where your evaporator coil doesn’t get enough airflow, resulting in water vapor and moisture flowing over the coil to solidify into ice. As the ice accumulates, this effect magnifies, snowballing into your entire coil being covered in ice, which prevents airflow and forces your system to shut down.

Generally, this is caused by a few different things. The first is a dirty coil. Over time, dust and debris will accumulate on your evaporator coil, which is why it’s important to clean it. This dust and debris serves as a surface that water vapor can cling to, where it freezes and turns into ice. While water can cling to the coil itself, a dirty coil makes this far easier, which means they’re far more likely to freeze over.

A dirty coil is often caused by a dirty air filter. This is yet another one of the reasons why it’s so absolutely critical that you change your air filter regularly. Check it at least once per month and then swap it out for a new one when the filter becomes too dirty to function properly. Depending on your home and the air conditioners you’re using, this could be anywhere from every four months to every month or so.

Freezing Outdoor Units

It is possible for your outdoor unit to freeze as well, however this is extraordinarily unlikely, and generally only happens in climates where sub-zero temperatures are a part of winter. If you have a heat pump style of heater, then extremely cold weather can prevent your pump from absorbing heat from your outdoor area in order to bring it inside. This is one reason why these climates almost exclusively use furnaces for their heat needs. You may have a heat pump here in Florida, but the good news is there is a next-to-zero chance that it’ll ever get cold enough that you’ll need to worry about it.

What to Do If Your System Freezes

If your air conditioner freezes, simply shut it off and wait. Over time, the ice will eventually melt and you can go back to using your system again. However, this can take several hours. You may be able to speed the process along by using a hair dryer or other heat gun to gently melt the ice on your coil, but be careful you don’t accidentally damage any components in your air conditioner in doing so.

If your air conditioner is giving you issues, contact Phoenix Air Conditioning, LLC at (561) 270-6181 to request a service quote!