A/C System Ices Up

July 16, 2010 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ AC/Systems,Featured-Home,Maintence Tips

Ac System Icing

I notice from the Google searches...That A/C System Icing is a search done often..Ac System Icing

Though there can be many reasons for system icing...There are a few that the DIY boater can rule out before calling the service guy ( I can discuss other reasons in the forum but here are a few of the basic answers)

  • Direct Expansion A/C (as opposed to Chilled Water) systems rely heavily on Air Flow across the evaporator coil in order to pick up the designed amount of heat the system was engineered to remove (BTU) and any loss of that designed air flow can cause the system to Ice.

Regardless of freon charge (explained later) the system must first and foremost have the correct amount of air flow...So air flow should be the first thing to check...Below are some reasons for reduced air flow...

  • Dirty or clogged Return Air Filters...Some systems may have two filters installed...One at the Return grill, and a second that shipped with the unit on the evaporator fins ( folks tend to forget this one, or never knew it was there in the first place)
  • Dirty or clogged evaporator coil/s due to not cleaning, or No/Poor return air filters installed.
  • Fan Speed Adjusted Too Low (Sometimes done to attain a quiet blower)
  • Undersized Return or Supply Ducting for the BTU System installed...This was the installers responsibility to size correctly, but all too often there is not sufficient space for where they want to run to size it properly...Thus a problem for the systems life, which is most always shortened dramatically from this practice...They should find another way, or reduce the size of the system to match the installation...Blowers can only move rated flow thru the proper sized duct.

Another reason which sometimes is overlooked...

  • Very Cold Cabin...The colder the cabin...The less heat there is to pick up...Thus more Air Flow is needed to increase the amount of heat (that's now not there) being picked up...A/C systems are called "High Temp" systems...they are designed to do exactly as the name implies...Air Condition...Not Refrigerate...That's what Refrigerators & Freezers are designed to do...Your A/C system is not designed to cool much below 68 degrees F...Though it will try to do so if you ask it...
  • Most of the newer Digital Cabin Controls have algorithms to "help" with this by shutting off the compressor for short periods until the desired room setpoint is attained, but they are not defrost cycles with coil heaters like you might find in a system designed to run at lower temps.

Last but Not least is...

  • Low Refrigerant Charge causes Icing...You Ask Huh ???...Why would low freon cause it to ice ?...I thought the more freon the colder...Not So with refrigerants...I'll try to explain briefly...

Pressure & Temperature Automatically Correspond with Refrigerants...The Lower the Pressure...The Lower the Temperature of the refrigerant ( and Vise Verse) Regardless of how much is in there...I'll leave it at that for now but can explain further in another article, or in the forum if requested.

  • The question here is...Why is the system low on freon ???

These systems are sealed, and should not require seasonal charging, like automotive systems that tend to leak because they have rubber hoses, o-rings & compressor shaft seals...These systems are all copper tubing, with soldered & mechanical flare joints.

  • Did someone let out freon because the unit was running high pressure ? (usually an indication of  loss of seawater flow, or a dirty condenser)
  • Has the system started leaking due to a poor connection (Flare or otherwise) or maybe electrolysis eating away at solder joints ?

If So...Then the leak needs to be located & repaired to save burning up the compressor...The compressor is the heart of the system, it's expensive, and relies on the proper amount of refrigerant return to stay cool...It will run Very Hot without enough Freon return regardless of seawater flow...and even if the system (air handler or tubing) is icing...The compressor will run hot from that lack of freon.

Hope this helps answer a few questions, but if not...Or if it creates more...Drop me a line (preferably in the forum so that others can benefit as well)  Always glad to answer.