Don’t Brick Your Air Conditioner!

The hotter months bring a terrible challenge for people who absolutely can't stand the heat; 'bricking' the air conditioning. Bricking refers to freezing the internal components of the air conditioner, essentially turning it into a brick of ice that can't cool down the building. Whether you're dealing with an ice brick of an air conditioner or getting ready for the heat of summer, consider a few inspection and maintenance points that can keep your current or future system in good working order.  

What Causes An Air Conditioner To Freeze Over?

The air conditioner's condenser changes a hot, volatile supply of gasses and condenses them into a cooler, slow moving set of molecules in a liquid form. This liquid is introduced to an evaporator, which turns the cool liquid into vapor that is then distributed through the building with a blower fan. Window-mounted air conditioning systems send the air through a basic set of vents while central air units may use a series of boxed corridors and pipes called ducts

When temperatures are too hot for comfort, people may be tempted to turn the temperature as low as it will go while turning the fan speed up as high as possible; essentially, they want as much cool air as possible right now.

Unfortunately, this causes the air conditioner to work harder than it needs to and can introduce some dangerous elements. Hot outside air and cold inside air can lead to condensation, which can form inside the air conditioning.

The condensation can reach the condenser and other cold parts of the air conditioning unit and freeze. The condenser, liquid supply lines or other components carrying cold liquids could rupture if frozen condensation (or leaking refrigerant) builds up, leading to even more cold liquid that can freeze.

Eventually, the condensation coating the internal components can begin to freeze the entire system. Multiple moving parts can jam and break, including motors that can physically burn if left frozen while trying to turn for too long.

Avoiding Bricking With Sensible Settings

To avoid freezing your air conditioner, find your optimum temperature for personal comfort. Between 70 to 75 Fahrenheit degrees may be a comfortable range to experiment with, although everyone's preferences may be different. These temperatures are cool enough to keep a room within comfortable living conditions while cooling as fast as possible. 

Turning up the fan speed (if applicable) can move the air faster and across longer distances, but lowering the temperature gauge won't cool the building any sooner. Consider two arbitrary settings to understand the issue.

An air conditioner set to 70 degrees may take about 10 minutes to get to your comfort level. The same air conditioner set to 60 degrees will still take 10 minutes to reach 70 degrees, then a few more minutes to reach 60. You're not cooling off any faster, but you can come closer to air conditioning failure by sending the temperature down as low as possible.

Contact an air conditioning service professional to find an air conditioning unit that works to your desired speed, or to fix a frozen air conditioning unit.