Marine A/C Icing in Heat


January 23, 2010 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ DIY Questions,Icing Up




It's the time of year that we all need heat…Even here in Florida this year…Global Warming My…?

Anyway…

Below is a post I answered in the Hatteras Owners Forum, and it seems to be a subject that many of you all are searching for answers to this time of year…It also applies to cooling in the summer, but is mostly about system Icing & the causes…I'm also going to  link this article to a Forum post here on this site so that anyone that may have questions or need further clarifications may ask away there…

Quote:
Originally Posted by SeaWhisper View Post
Don't mean to jump on this thread ! Steve if your following, I have been experiencing an a/c problem also but on the heat mode side. I have 4 A/C system with one giving me a icing problem on the compressor unit. Starting on the suction side and loop tubing of the remote unit is freezing up with heavy ice. The compressor is hot to touch. Check air handling unit… High fan, clean filter giving out warm air. Water flow thru compressor unit and 3 other unit's has a high flow rate. Water temp is around low 50's. I can switch the unit to cool mode and it will melt the ice of the compressor unit… Your thoughts on what may be causes the heavy icing…. Low freon? Unit is a 16,000 btu maybe 2 years old, with smxir controls. Thanks…

Mike~

First I need to clarify what you mean by…"Starting on the suction side and loop tubing of the remote unit is freezing up with heavy ice. "

Do you mean the water coil ?

If so…Then it would be hard to know that the unit in question is actually getting proper water flow by looking over the side…Since all the 53 MY's I can remember, had a single overboard discharge fitting with a 4 unit manifold attached.

You would need to remove the hose for the unit in question from that overboard manifold, and either let it run into the bilge or a bucket…It's not uncommon to have a blockage or some kind of growth restricting one unit's seawater flow….This can cause what you describe.

Yes the compressor will run a bit hotter in the heat mode…

Icing is always an indication of Low Pressure…What is causing that low pressure is key to solving it…Duh ?

First…Pressure & Temp correspond with refrigerants…The lower the pressure of the refrigerant…The lower the temp of that refrigerant…

If you place a jug of refrigerant in a room and connect a pressure gauge to it…then let it get to room temp by just sitting there…

With a pressure temp chart for that particular refrigerant (in this case R-22) you can tell the temp of the room by the pressure shown on the pressure gauge…If that room is 32*…The gauge will read somewhere around 56-58 psi. (the chart I have with me right now jumps from 30 to 35 degrees so I'm guessing a bit but that's close)

When running in heat mode the water coil is the evaporator and is on the low side of the system (cold part) the air handler is the high side (hot part)

In cooling they switch duties because the Reversing Valve will send the refrigerant around the system in the opposite direction.

Thus a "Reverse Cycle" system also known as a Heat Pump…

Back to what I started saying about Icing being an indication of low pressure…

Air Conditioning is what we call a High Temp System…Designed evaporator temps above freezing (32*)…Therefore "Low Pressure" in a R-22 A/C system is defined as below that 58-56 psi I mentioned earlier…Which will cause icing by freezing any moisture that is in contact with that surface thus blocking flow…Either Air or Water (depending on which mode you are running in)

A/C (and refrigeration) is all about moving or removing heat, since there is no such thing as Cold…Just the absence of Heat…Making it feel Cold…

In the heat mode you are picking up heat from the water with the water coil and dumping it into the cabin, using the refrigerant as the truck to carry it, and the fan in the cabin to dump it out of the truck…Cooling is just the opposite, and uses the Cabin coil to load the truck with heat, and the water to dump it out.

Any restriction…Ice, Air Flow, Water flow etc…Will affect how much of that heat can be picked up by a designed size coil in both the heat & or cool modes.

This is why icing is not good with A/C…Refrigeration is another story since it usually has defrost timers & heaters…A/C does not, or should not need due to the temp range it was designed to operate in…with Above 32* evaporators.

The biggest problem with icing the water coil in heat mode is the danger of freezing the seawater in that coil & blocking flow completely…Thus causing expansion, and a rupture of that water coil…

This will allow the freon to leak out into the water, and the water to leak into the freon circuit, effectively ruining the complete system by pumping that seawater throughout the system with the compressor.

Low amount of freon causing icing ?…Yes this can also act the same as flow restriction…

Either way…Low freon, or Flow restriction…If the truck/s can't get full for every circuit (restriction) or don't start full (low freon) you are not moving the designed amount of heat that the system was made to transfer…Both of which will cause Low Pressure on the on the suspension of the trucks…

Back to:

Low pressure = Low temp = Icing…

Icing = Restriction = Less Flow = Lower Pressure…etc…etc…

One compounds another.

I should also add that lack of heat (or low temp) of either the water (in heating) or the cabin air (in cooling) will cause low pressure due to the fact enough heat is not there for the system to pick up in the first place...Low temp again equals low pressure, and the systems job is to move heat.

I know that was long guys…But I hope it helps in a lot of these questions…I know it can be confusing, or boring to read but it's all part of understanding what is happening…

I tried to put it into the easiest layman's terms I could think of…If you have any questions on what I said just ask & I will try to clear them up.

Steve~