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How Long Does It Take to Thaw a Frozen Air Conditioner?


The short answer is: The time to thaw a frozen outdoor AC system can vary depending on the extent of ice buildup, but it typically takes a few hours. Homeowners should turn off the AC unit, set the fan to “on” to help thaw the ice, and ensure proper airflow around the unit. If the problem persists, professional assistance should be sought to identify and address any underlying issues.

As the temperature continues to rise, homeowners across the Louisville area rely on their air conditioning units to keep them cool and comfortable. However, in some cases, those units may have been sitting unused for a while, leaving them frozen and causing them to fail to work as expected. In this blog, Jarboe’s Heating, Cooling & Plumbing will tackle the question of:

  • How Long It Takes to Thaw a Frozen Air Conditioner?
  • How to Fix Frozen AC Units?
  • What Steps Homeowners Can Take to Get Their Air Conditioning System Back in Working Order?

Why Is My Air Conditioner Frozen?

First and foremost, it’s important to understand why air conditioning units freeze in the first place.

1. Dirty Air Filter

Clogged or dirty air filters can cause serious issues with your air conditioner, including an AC freezing up. Filters are meant to trap dirt, dust, and other debris and prevent them from clogging up the system. When air filters get too dirty, they can restrict air flow, causing the AC unit to overwork and freeze up. It’s recommended to change your AC system’s air filters regularly to ensure your air conditioner unit has proper airflow.

2. Low Refrigerant Levels

The system’s refrigerant is a chemical that plays a vital role in your air conditioner’s cooling process. If the refrigerant level is low due to a refrigerant leak or other issues with the refrigerant lines, the central air conditioner will overwork, leading to a frozen AC. Licensed HVAC technicians can diagnose and fix refrigerant leaks and low refrigerant levels.

3. Blocked or Closed Vents

Blocked or closed supply vents can cause the AC unit to freeze up because it restricts the airflow. When air vents and supply registers are blocked, the cool air cannot flow freely throughout the HVAC system. Poor airflow means moisture on the evaporator coil will accumulate, and eventually, it will transform into ice and lead to a frozen AC unit.

4. Faulty Thermostat Control

If the thermostat is faulty, it can cause the air conditioner to freeze up because it’s not signaling the air conditioning system to stop running. The AC unit continues to pump cool air into your home without detecting when the desired temperature has been reached, eventually leading to a frozen evaporator coil. A professional technician can diagnose and repair the fault thermostat.

5. Dirty Evaporator Coils

The evaporator coil is responsible for absorbing heat from the air that passes over it. When dirt and debris build up on it, the evaporator coil becomes partially blocked, and the system cannot absorb heat effectively, which can cause the coil to freeze up.

How to Thaw a Frozen AC System

If you have ever faced a frozen air conditioner, you know how frustrating it can be. It not only creates an uncomfortable environment, but it also reduces the efficiency of the unit. The good news is that it is relatively simple to thaw out a frozen air conditioner. However, the time taken to thaw out the unit depends on multiple factors such as the extent of the frosting, the temperature outside the system, and the type of air conditioner you own. Generally, it will take about 24 hours for a frozen air conditioner to thaw out completely.

Regardless of what caused the unit to freeze, the key to getting it thawed out is to turn off the system and let it sit for a while. This process can be sped up by using a hair dryer or heat gun to carefully melt the ice buildup, though homeowners need to exercise caution to avoid causing further damage to their AC coils.

Another way to speed up the process of thawing a frozen air conditioner is to run the blower fan, which will continuously blow warm air over the frozen coils. You can use the HVAC fan even though the air conditioner is turned off – simply set the blower fan to ‘ON’ using the fan setting on your thermostat.

Troubleshooting Your Frozen AC Unit

Once the ice has melted, you need to find out the cause for your air conditioner freezing. Here are a few things to troubleshoot:

1. Check the Air Filter

Dirty or clogged air filters can lead to insufficient airflow, causing the evaporator coil to freeze. Therefore, it is critical to check the air filter regularly, especially during high usage periods. If it is dirty, replace it immediately.

2. Check the Thermostat

A faulty thermostat can trigger your air conditioner to run constantly, causing the evaporator coil to freeze. If the thermostat’s batteries are low, replace them. If the thermostat’s calibration is drifting, consider upgrading to a new thermostat.

3. Check the Refrigerant Levels

Low refrigerant levels can cause frozen AC coils or a frozen AC line. If your air conditioning unit is low on refrigerant, there could be a leak somewhere in the system. This is a serious problem, and you should call in a professional HVAC company to handle the repair.

4. Check the Evaporator Coils

The condenser coils on the outdoor unit can become dirty and clogged with debris, restricting airflow and causing the evaporator coil to freeze. Regularly cleaning the condenser coils will ensure the proper airflow, which will prevent the evaporator coil from freezing. Schedule yearly AC maintenance appointments with a professional HVAC technician to avoid problems with dirty coils.

5. Check the Blower Fan

A broken or damaged blower fan can restrict airflow through your HVAC equipment and cause the evaporator coil to freeze. Inspect the fan blades for cracks or damage, and have an HVAC technician replace the fan if necessary.

Is Your AC Frozen? Get Help Today

At the end of the day, thawing a frozen air conditioning unit is usually a simple Louisville AC repair service that just requires a bit of patience and attention to detail. Whether you’re dealing with a frozen unit now or just want to be prepared for the possibility down the line, knowing how to get your system back up and running is key to staying cool and comfortable all summer long.

If you have issues with a frozen HVAC unit this summer, turn to Jarboe’s for AC repair and maintenance services that will help you put an end to the problem. Contact us today to schedule AC repair service.

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