How To Unfreeze An Air Conditioner

Ignoring a frozen air conditioner could lead to expensive repairs later, but don't worry! It's no rocket science to thaw a frozen AC. And because we insist on giving you all the help you need, we extended our research to cover even your questions on why this happens and how this can be prevented.

It is easy to unfreeze an air conditioner, but how long it would take to thaw the ice completely depends on a number of things. Here are the steps to unfreeze an air conditioner:

  1. Switch off the unit through the thermostat.
  2. Adjust the fan setting from "Auto" to "On."
  3. Allow the fan to blow warm air to melt the ice.

And that's it! We told you it would be simple. So moving on, how long will it take to melt all the ice? We found the answer to this question, although we believe you should also stay to find out what's causing a frozen air conditioner and what can be done to avoid it. Continue reading to find out. 

Ice clogged in an ac, How To Unfreeze An Air Conditioner

Thawing An Air Conditioner

The safest way to thaw a frozen AC is to leave it to nature. So after switching off the thermostat and adjusting the fan setting to "On," you can proceed to do other chores and let the warm air circulate and melt all ice covering the system.

Icicles on an air conditioner in downtown Bucharest, Romania

Nonetheless, thawing a frozen AC could take hours to an entire day. So we gathered all the proven methods for unfreezing an air conditioner faster.

How Do You Unfreeze an Air Conditioner Faster?

Do not use tools to forcefully remove chunks of ice, as this can damage parts of the unit. Some components of the air conditioner, such as the coil, are vulnerable to different issues like cracking. Instead, you can use an electric fan to speed up the thawing.

Another way is to use a hairdryer. When using a hairdryer, adjust the device to the lowest setting to avoid too much heat. Maintain at least a 12-inch gap between the blower and the surface of the ice.

As this method emits heat that may harm sensitive parts of the AC, stop using the hair blower while there is still a thin layer of ice covering the unit.

Many people also wonder if they can pour hot water on a frozen air conditioner. Yes, you can pour water, and it does not necessarily have to be hot. 

For more insight on the topic, check out this post: "Can You Pour Hot Water On A Frozen Air Conditioner?"  

How Long Does It Take to Unfreeze an Air Conditioner?

There's no definite answer to this question. Sometimes, the process finishes the following day. The exact amount of time depends on several things. 

First, the size of the unit matters. The bigger the size of the AC, the longer it takes to melt the ice. The extent of the buildup, as well as the temperature of the surrounding area, also affects the thawing time. This means it takes longer to defrost thick ice at low ambient temperatures.

If you will not help the process using any method for thawing ice, then that is also another factor that results in a longer waiting time.

What Causes a Frozen Air Conditioner?

ice on coil cooler of dirty air conditioner

Dealing with a frozen air conditioner is not a new scenario for many homeowners. However, it should not be ignored. This freezing tells you something is not right with your AC. You should identify the problem as soon as possible to save your AC from expensive repairs. Here are the reasons why your AC freezes:

Clogged filter

Restricted airflow is one of the most common causes of a frozen AC. All AC units should work fine when air circulates properly within the system. Otherwise, poor airflow will encourage humidity to settle around the evaporator coils. Give it a few hours, and it will freeze.

Clean the filter or replace it to ensure air is circulating properly inside the unit. Doing so not only avoids freezing but also lowers energy consumption by up to 15%.

View this aircon cleaning brush set on Amazon.

Coolant Leaks

There are two ways the AC coolant can cause freezing. First, understand that air conditioners maintain specific levels of pressure. Any change in pressure is enough for the refrigerant to expand and cause freezing. 

Coolant lines are prone to leaks. When leaks are present, the coolant reserve goes down, which is also known to cause the air conditioner to freeze.

Check the lines for leaks. It is cheaper to replace hoses and refill the coolant than wait for simple leaks to progress.

Broken Fans

Fans that are not working properly also hinder airflow and make the inside of the unit more humid. Check the fans; if they are working at the right speed and are clean. 


Dirt serves as the barrier between the cold evaporator coil and the warm air from outside of the AC. Even a thin layer of contaminant can be a barrier and cause the AC to freeze. Here's a useful guide on "How To Clean An Air Conditioner Coil."

Click here to view this evaporator coil cleaner on Amazon.

How to Prevent an Air Conditioner From Freezing

conditioner covered with icicles on a yellow wall

You will only increase the chances of expensive repairs if you let the same thing happen again and again. Proper and regular maintenance is the key to avoiding a frozen air conditioner. Here's what you can do.

Ensure Proper Air Circulation Inside The System

Clean the filter at least once a month. Filters from units that run for longer periods or are installed in a polluted environment should be cleaned more often. It is recommended to replace the filter every three months.

Woman cleaning aircon filters indoor unit at home

Clean the blades of the fan to get rid of dirt. Older AC models have fans that need periodic oiling. They also need extra oiling prior to the cooling season.

Open as many vents as possible. Closed vents also restrict airflow, causing coil freezing. Don't forget to clean the vents regularly as well.

Check For Refrigerant Leaks

Did you know that your AC comes with a lifetime supply of refrigerant? Check the refrigerant level regularly. A decrease in level means a leak is present. 

While a simple leak is easily fixed using a sealant, more serious problems could arise if this goes ignored. Call a technician to check if you suspect a leak is present.

Check The Condensate Drain Line For Blockage

The condensate drain line is an often overlooked part of an AC system, but this component plays an important role. This pipe drains excess moisture away from your property. When any part of the line gets blocked with debris, it will trap all the excess moisture, which may eventually result in an overflow from the drain pan.

The condensate drain pan is located just below the coil. When it overflows and touches the coil, this would encourage freezing.

Schedule Professional Aircon Servicing Once A Year

No one knows the ins and outs of an air conditioning unit more than the experts. Aircon brands like Daikin recommend professional cleaning and maintenance at least once a year.

How Do You Unfreeze An Air Conditioner In The Winter?

If you are unfreezing an air conditioner in the winter, the first step is to switch off the thermostat. That way, the AC system will stop producing cool air. Then, switch the fan setting to "On" to allow a continuous supply of warm air inside the unit.

Depending on how thick the ice buildup is and considering an extremely low ambient temperature, you might have to wait more than 24 hours to unfreeze a big air conditioning unit.

Will My AC Work After It Thaws Out?

Your air conditioner should work as usual after it thaws out. It should blow cool air after adjusting the thermostat and fan to your normal setting. But AC freezing may happen again if you don't fix the main problem now.

Some of the quick fixes for a frozen AC include cleaning the filter and fan blades, emptying the condensate pan, and sealing refrigerant leaks. Call a technician to help spot the main problem and have it fixed.

Can I Turn On The Heat to Defrost AC?

You may turn on the HVAC fan to defrost your air conditioning unit. The warm air helps speed up the thawing process. Make sure, though, you set it to "On" instead of "Auto" for a continuous supply of warm air.

Final Thoughts

Ice clogged in an ac

There you have it! It's that easy to unfreeze an air conditioner. So the next time this happens, you already know what to do. Although we believe you won't let this happen again since you already know the different fixes for a frozen AC.

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