With winter right around the corner, you want to make sure that your system is ready for the season. One issue you might not think about is that your HVAC unit could freeze. When that happens, you could be left out in the cold. Here are a few causes of a frozen HVAC and what you can do to rectify the situation.
You might associate refrigerant with the summertime, but your HVAC needs it in the winter. Low refrigerant levels can cause the evaporator coils to freeze. As a result, your HVAC may stop working. Sometimes, you could even hear unusual sounds or feel cold air blowing from the vents. In any case, you need a technician to recharge the system. If there are any leaks in the unit, they can also fix them so that you don’t run into this problem again.
Your thermostat is the main component responsible for controlling the temperature in your home. If this device malfunctions, it can cause several problems. Usually, that results in erratic temperatures, leading to freezing issues.
You always want to make sure that the thermostat is calibrated correctly. Otherwise, you will not get an accurate temperature reading. If the thermostat doesn’t want to respond, you need to take immediate action. You may want to think about switching out the manual device with a programmable one. With that, you can control, schedule, and monitor your temperature right from a smart device. Not only is it convenient, but it gives you a first-hand look at the status of your heating and cooling system.
Dirty or Blocked Evaporator Coils
If your evaporator coils are not cleaned regularly, there could be a buildup of dirt and debris. In turn, that can create freezing issues in your system. These coils are an important part of the heat exchange process. When dirt builds up, it develops a barrier that affects the unit’s heat transfer process.
Fortunately, an easy way to avoid this problem is to schedule a bi-annual maintenance visit. During the visit, the technician will inspect and clean all the components, including the evaporator coils. With that, you can have peace of mind knowing your HVAC will function optimally all year long.
An HVAC system cannot operate correctly if there is a problem with the airflow. An obstruction can affect the circulation of air. As a result, it could cause the unit to freeze. If there are airflow problems, check around the air filters, ducts, and vents. Sometimes, furniture or another object could be blocking these spaces. You may even want to change the air filter to ensure it does not cause a problem. Dirty air filters can reduce the airflow and cause the unit to overheat.
Could It Be a Problem on the Outside?
Some external factors can affect the functionality of your HVAC system, especially during winter. Extremely low temperatures and high humidity can create freezing conditions.
Cold weather, especially in regions with harsh winter climates, can cause problems for HVAC systems. When the outdoor temperature drops, the moisture in the air can freeze a few components of your HVAC unit. If you want to prevent this problem, make sure to monitor weather forecasts. You could cover your outdoor unit to prevent damage during extreme cold snaps.
If you are anticipating cold weather, consider adjusting your HVAC settings. You may want to raise the indoor temperature to balance the temperatures outside and the system’s heating capacity. For those homes with a variable-speed compressor, this HVAC system will automatically adjust the output based on the outdoor temperatures.
While low humidity is a common concern during winter, high humidity levels can also contribute to HVAC freezing issues. Excessive moisture in the air can build up on the evaporator coils. As a result, that can affect the heat exchange process and cause freezing. If you want to avoid these problems, you can monitor the humidity levels in your home. When the levels get too high, adjust your thermostat. However, you may need to schedule a service call if the thermostat does not bring down those levels.
Along with that, you may want to consider investing in a dehumidification system or using standalone dehumidifiers. This could be a good idea, especially if you live in a humid area. Dehumidifiers not only prevent freezing, but they also improve overall indoor air quality. Additionally, you may also want to install a humidistat. This device works with your HVAC system to provide automatic humidity control based on your preferred settings.
If you don’t have the proper insulation, you will not have an energy-efficient home. With that, you will experience heat loss, putting a heavy load on your HVAC system. As a result, that can cause your unit to freeze. To avoid these problems, make sure the insulation is inspected in your home. Since heat naturally rises, the attic is one place to check. Heat loss will not only cause troubles for your HVAC system, but you will see an increase in your home’s energy bills.
Along with that, check out the crawl spaces and basement. Cold air can seep into these spots. That chilly air can affect the overall temperature of your home. You will want to look for any gaps in the insulation and fill them to prevent heat loss.
Finally, heat can leak out of the windows and doors. If you feel a draft, then you will want to seal any cracks or gaps. Caulking and weatherstripping will give you a tight seal and prevent cold air from entering your home.
How to Handle a Frozen HVAC Unit
If you have a frozen HVAC unit, you will want to act quickly to prevent any damage. The first step is to turn off the HVAC unit. With that, you can allow it to thaw. While it may be tempting to crank up the temperature immediately, gradual defrosting is more effective. Plus, it prevents any sudden temperature changes that could lead to additional stress on the equipment.
Next, place fans strategically around the frozen components to circulate warm air throughout the unit. Portable heaters can also be used to speed up the thawing process. You just want to make sure the fans are set to a low or medium setting.
While these steps can defrost your unit, you still need to find out why it happened in the first place. You will want to contact a trained HVAC technician to inspect the unit. These professionals have the tools and training to resolve any issues with your system. They can find out the source of the problem and quickly fix it for you.
At Precision Heating & Air, we help Dallas, GA, residents maintain safe and comfortable living environments. We provide furnace, air conditioner, heat pump installation, maintenance, and repairs. We also offer top-quality water heaters, dehumidifiers, and indoor air quality solutions. When your HVAC freezes up this winter, make sure to call us. Contact Precision Heating & Air to schedule an appointment.