Is Your Commercial Air Conditioner Freezing Up? Here are 5 Common Causes

When you notice frost or ice on something, what's your immediate thought? That the item is cold, right?

Right. Makes sense.

Well, when you see said frost or ice on your commercial air conditioner, this is a sign that everything is working correctly, then, right?


The truth is, if you notice ice or frost on various parts of the unit, you've got a major problem -- one that needs professional attention.

So, is your commercial air conditioner freezing up? Here's a rundown on five common causes of this problem and what to do about it.

Let's get started!

1. Not Performing Annual Maintenance Checks Can Cause Issue of Air Conditioner Freezing Up

It's recommended that you give your air conditioner unit a maintenance check every year before turning it on in the summer. If you don't keep up with your maintenance checks, you may start to experience problems.

For your maintenance check, a technician will arrive at your business and check the unit's parts to make sure that everything is working properly. These parts include the thermostat, evaporator coils, compressor, fan, and air filter.

If the technician notices an issue, they'll replace or repair the malfunctioning parts to keep your unit running smoothly throughout the summer.

2. Lacking Airflow

You especially need to check your unit's air filter regularly and replace it as needed because a dirty filter can block airflow and thus make your unit freeze up.

Likewise, if the fan isn't working, not enough air will reach your evaporator coils. This can make your unit freeze up as well.

Notice a theme here? Your commercial air conditioner absolutely needs consistent airflow to function properly.

Here's why.

Airflow is needed for hot air to enter your unit and pass through its evaporator coils to cool your business. If hot air cannot get through the unit, the unit will simply freeze up.

Also, make sure that your registers remain open, as this will permit the passage of air needed to keep your unit from icing up.

Other things that may cause airflow issues include a slow or non-functioning indoor blower fan motor, as well as undersized or restricted air ducts.

3. Low Refrigerant Levels

This is the most common cause of an air conditioner freezing up.

Proper levels of refrigerant, also known as Freon, are critical for helping your unit to function properly, as your refrigerant plays an important role in cooling your business.

If your unit develops a refrigerant leak, the unit will become undercharged. As a result, your evaporator coil will start to collect the moisture present in the air, and this moisture will freeze on your coil. As the unit keeps running, moisture will continue to build up, and ice will eventually form.

4. Drainage Issues

Condensation from your air conditioner drains outside. However, if your coils are not working correctly and your unit becomes frozen, ice could end up blocking the drain.

In this situation, your unit will continue to run. However, it will utilize a great deal of electricity, and it won't keep your business cool. In addition, it could ruin your compressor as well as other important components of the unit.

To remedy this problem, you'll need to have a professional technician unblock your drain and unfreeze your coils. It's critical that you fix these issues to prevent more expensive repairs in the future.

5. Too Low of an Ambient Temperature

Most air conditioner units come with sensors that will shut off your compressor if your outside temperature is way too low (typically, around 60 degrees Fahrenheit).

However, not all air conditioner units do. In addition, even if you have an air conditioner unit that comes with sensors, the sensors may malfunction.

If you end up running your air conditioner when it is too cold out, this can cause your air conditioner to freeze up as well.

Sometimes the Issue is a Mixture of Problems

Earlier, we highlighted the problem of having an undercharged air conditioner due to an inadequate amount of refrigerant. The reality is that if your unit has this problem -- for instance, it is lacking about one or two pounds of refrigerant -- you might not notice any freezing-up issues initially.

However, combine this undercharge issue with a thermal expansion valve (metering device) that sometimes sticks, or a blocked air filter and the two problems happening simultaneously might cause ice to build up. In no time, your coil will become completely frozen.

Another problem to watch out for is a thermal expansion valve that is malfunctioning. If your unit is not older than 15 years, it likely features this type of valve.

The thermal expansion valve basically acts as a refrigerant traffic light, controlling refrigerant's flow through your system. If the valve becomes sticky or malfunctions, frost can form on your air conditioner system's components.

How We Can Help

We are a leading provider of services aimed at meeting customers' air conditioner, mechanical and plumbing needs.

We can cover just about any heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration need you might encounter. This includes performing preventive maintenance to keep your unit humming like a dream.

In addition, we are adept at working with steam piping and chilled water systems.

Furthermore, when it comes to plumbing we offer several construction, as well as service, options. For instance, we can complete a small bathroom remodel or a major renovation project depending on your situation. We can also locate lines for you.

Whether you need a total installation or an urgent repair -- such as that associated with an air conditioner freezing up -- we'll be there to help you.

Get in touch with us to find out more about how our services can help you to keep your business air conditioner unit working appropriately every summer season in the years ahead.

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