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How To Stay Frosty Without Freezing Up Your A/C

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Seeing your air conditioner buried in sheets of ice while your home slowly turns into a sauna seems like a cruel joke, but ice and frost buildup on your A/C system is no laughing matter. If you want to keep your A/C system frost-free while staying frosty indoors, here are a few crucial tips you should follow.

Watch for Obstructions

Whether it's a clogged air filter that's overdue for a change, a seriously dusty air handler fan, or a pile of leaves near your outdoor A/C cabinet, these and other obstructions can do more than just cut down your A/C system's efficiency. A severe airflow blockage can also lead to frost and ice buildup, putting your A/C system in further jeopardy.

Fortunately, you can prevent obstructions from causing ice buildup in your A/C system with the following steps:

  • Watch for and remove dead leaves, foliage, and other yard debris from around the outdoor cabinet.
  • Watch for and remove dust and debris from around the indoor air handler
  • Replace your air filter on schedule, preferably once per month.
  • Check the evaporator and condenser coils for algae and debris buildup and clean them as needed.
  • Have a professional clean your A/C system's ductwork on a regular basis.

Watch for Leaks

Refrigerant loss is also a common culprit for frost and ice buildup in A/C systems. A drop in refrigerant levels can also cause a corresponding drop in refrigerant pressures, causing temperatures near the surface of the evaporator and condenser coil to drop below freezing. The end result is rapid ice buildup on the coils' surface, with other A/C problems to follow.

Your A/C system will never "use up" its supply of refrigerant unless there's a leak somewhere within the system. The most common type of A/C refrigerant leak involves pinhole leaks in the copper or aluminum refrigerant lines. Leaks can also be caused by corrosion at the evaporator coil or a failed seal within the compressor.

If you suspect your A/C system has refrigerant leak, have your HVAC professional conduct a thorough inspection as soon as possible.

Mind Your Thermostat

Cranking your A/C thermostat all the way down to the lowest possible temperature is tempting, but it'll do little to improve your home's cooling. Contrary to popular belief, setting your thermostat to its lowest temperature won't speed up the cooling process. It will, however, make your A/C system work unnecessarily hard, setting the stage for potential frost and ice buildup.

Instead, you should keep your thermostat set to 78 degrees Fahrenheit when you're at home and a few degrees higher when you're away. Not only can this tip help reduce your cooling costs, but you'll also avoid icing up your A/C system.

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