General Question

asmonet's avatar

Is a block of ice in an air conditioning unit 'normal'?

Asked by asmonet (21345points) June 30th, 2009

We have an air conditioning unit in the apartment we moved into earlier this month that has in the past just randomly stopped working. The maintenance man came out and by his own admission did nothing to it but it magically worked again.

We moved on.

Today, the same thing happened. The ac just quit. Air was barely blowing out, and it wasn’t cool air. It was about the same as a fan with a few missing blades.

Out of frustration we popped off the panel to the unit and saw a block of ice sitting on the filter three inches thick, covering the entire filter and with ice going through to the other side of the filter as well. The pipes leading up towards the ceiling also have ice around them. And don’t even get me started on the 30 Day Filter inside that hasn’t been touched in what looks like a year – there’s a half inch thick coat of dust and grime. It’s gross.

We know nothing about air conditioning units. We assume this isn’t normal but we wanted to check on any specific issues that might cause this kind of build up of ice. We’re leaving the panel off the wall for the time being as it’s blowing air through the house – a small comfort. Can anyone tell us the issue? Is there one?

Besides the filter – obviously. :)

We run the ac at 65 usually, and never seen this in a unit before.

For reference it seems to be a First Co. unit – a 614H?

Should we not run it at all until more maintenance comes out? Do you have any advice for dealing with the rental office?

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13 Answers

Darwin's avatar

One cause of that in an AC unit is that there isn’t enough freon (or what passes for freon these days – I guess it should just be called coolant) in the system. When our AC developed a tiny leak so that the coolant level dropped, that is what ours did. We had to replace the bit with the leak, and have the coolant replaced.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

You have a freon leak. There are a lot of reasons for a leak, but more freon can be added. Once the ice melts, the unit should run again. I have a unit on the second floor that I’ve been having the repair guy come and add more freon every year. The $170 is cheaper than the $2300 for a new unit. Make sure your filters are clean; they should be changed every month.

augustlan's avatar

Oddly, the a/c overheating can cause that. Don’t ask me how it works, but no it’s not normal.

KingMalefic's avatar

Should we turn the Ac unit off… Currently I have the cover slightly ajar and am running it. Before we had the cover completely off.

augustlan's avatar

I would turn it off and call maintenance. Our window unit that developed this problem would run after it was off for a while, but the ‘run’ time became shorter and shorter each time we used it. We finally had to get rid of it and replace it.

Darwin's avatar

Your unit is not working correctly. The landlord needs to be notified that the unit needs to be repaired or replaced. In the mean time, turn it off to avoid leakage into the walls and to keep from making it possible only to replace the unit.

KingMalefic's avatar

K thanks, Yay to new apartments.

KingMalefic's avatar

Asmonet and I both appreciate the advice and help.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Turn it off; you want the ice to melt. It could be that because you have the AC set so low, the condensation from the humidity in the air is causing the block of ice to form. ACs need to be serviced on an annual basis, which involves, among other things, cleaning the outdoor unit. The flow of air is important to the thing working.

asmonet's avatar

We’ll get it looked at this weekend.
Thanks everyone! :)

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kritiper's avatar

The unit is running constantly at 65 and should be set @ 74 or 76. The unit is probably not big enough (not enough BTUs) and that is why it runs all the time. The unit should shut off after running for a bit and that will allow the ice to melt, which is supposed to happen.

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