How To Unfreeze Air Conditioner In 4 EASY Steps

Dominic Mitton
By Dominic  • Reviewed by Ben  • Updated:   October 26, 2023
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If you notice any signs of a frozen air conditioner in recent times, you want to unfreeze it as soon as possible!

I’ll talk about the most common signs and problems you might have to deal with later in the article.

Now, let’s focus on 4 simple steps to defrost your air conditioner.

How To Unfreeze an Air Conditioning Unit

As I said earlier, a frozen air conditioner must immediately be defrosted before it damages some critical parts inside the unit.

People tend to overcomplicate this process, but it takes only four steps to really unfreeze your air conditioner.

Step 1: Turn off the thermostat

Your air conditioner got frozen because the refrigerant temperature dropped – simple as that.

You’re doing this to prevent any damage to the compressor which costs hundreds of dollars to repair.

Step 2: Turn the fan ON

Although you turned off the thermostat, you need to turn ON the fan and leave it like that for 4-7 hours

It takes some time to completely thaw out your air conditioner and it might even take you a whole day.

Step 3: Check for any water

If the ice defrosted, there will probably be some water drops inside your air conditioner.

Wipe those and make sure there aren’t any water drops before doing the next steps.

Step 4: Turn ON the thermostat

Now after you’ve done everything right, go ahead and turn on the thermostat to cool settings.

If the air is cooler than before – you’ve done everything right.

If not – you should read some of the common issues I’ve listed below or call professional help.

How To Tell If Your Air Conditioner Is Frozen?

It’s important to know when your air conditioner is freezing as you can save a ton of time if you act early on.

Here are some of the signs of a frozen air conditioner:

  • Your electric bill is higher than you expected and this is because the ice in your unit is decreasing its efficiency.
  • Water leaks around your unit are a red flag and you should inspect your air conditioner immediately.
  • Irritating bubbling noise will tell you something is wrong with your AC
  • There’s ice outside the unit
  • Moisture spreading around the air handler

If you notice any of these, make sure to act on time instead of “leaving it for tomorrow”.

Why Is My Air Conditioner Frozen?

At first sight, your AC can freeze up suddenly, but there can be several reasons why it happened.

Here are the 3 main reasons:

1. Poor Airflow

When air registers get clogged it leads to poor airflow over the air conditioner’s evaporator coils. So if the air conditioner stops having proper airflow, it increases the chance of AC being frozen.

Also, if you have a dirty filter it can cause poor airflow because of all the dirt and dust stuck there.

I would also suggest cleaning heat pumpers and air handlers more often.

You can check out the best AC coil cleaner that I’m personally using.

2. Low-level Refrigerant

If you have refrigerant leaks, you can expect your air conditioner to freeze more often.

The job of refrigerants is to collect warm air from your home and distribute it outside. When you have low refrigerant levels, it causes evaporator coils to get cold which freezes the air moisture.

📍 Note: Always make sure that the air conditioner is installed correctly by using proper AC installation services.

3. Blower Motor Problems

Even if your filters are clean, and there is no blockage to ducts or vents, there are still reasons why an evaporator coil may not get the warm air it needs to keep from freezing, and the main problems will lie with the blower motor, which works to move that warm air.

This is a much less common issue, which can be caused by insufficient voltage reaching the motor (because of faulty wiring, electrical or electronic problems, or other things), or simply a bad or worn-out motor.

How Long Does it Take to Defrost My AC Unit?

You’re probably frustrated about your frozen air conditioner and you’re looking to get it unfrozen as soon as possible, right?

Many factors affect this, such as the size of the unit, the strength of your blowing fan, how long your AC was frozen, and much more.

In the worst-case scenario – the thawing process will take up to 24 hours.

Now, in most situations, it will take around 4-8 hours to completely defrost your air conditioner.

I was lucky enough to recognize the freezing early on and it only took me a bit over an hour – have to admit it was pure luck 🙂

Although the thawing process is pretty straightforward, there are still some things you need to keep an eye on.

When you’re trying to defrost a lot of ice, it can cause an overflow of the drain pan. I would suggest putting towels around the drain pan to prevent water from spilling around your house.

Also, if the drain pan overflows it can even cause clogged condensate drains (believe me, you don’t want to deal with that).

How To Make Sure You Avoid All The Problems

As I mentioned before, clogged drains and water spilling a common problems caused by simple mistakes.

Here’s what you should do to avoid all those boring problems:

Dry your AC coils 

After all the ice is melted, make sure to wipe any drops of water around your coils.

This will make sure that the unit doesn’t freeze up again and it will save you tons of time and energy because you don’t want to deal with a frozen air conditioner again.

Check your filters regularly

A filter filled up with dirt and dust is much more likely to build up ice inside of your unit and decrease its efficiency in that way.

Take out the filter and check for any signs of damage before cleaning it. You can easily clean your air conditioner without removing it.

📍 Note: Don’t forget to put the filter on the right side – you’d be surprised how many people put it backward.

Check your air vents

Sometimes air vents can be blocked by furniture or other objects, so make sure everything is clear so the air can be distributed easily.

When one of the vents is blocked, the pressure is higher, so the vents collect more dirt and dust.

I hope this guide was helpful as this process is pretty straightforward and I didn’t want to overcomplicate it like most people do. 

If you find this article helpful, I highly recommend checking ways to save money on your air conditioning.

Hey there! I am Benas, the founder and content editor at Home Caprice. Thanks for reading the article. I hope you were able to find what you were looking for. I and my team are here to simplify heating and cooling for everyone. Please have a look at the About page for more details about our website and feel free to check out our editorial process.