How to Prevent an AC Compressor From Freezing Up


An air conditioner compressor's job is to pressurize and transport the freon gas responsible for cooling the air before it is blown out the AC vents. When there is inadequate airflow in the system, the cool air has nowhere to travel, resulting in the compressor becoming cold and freezing up. You may notice a large block of ice building up in your unit and the unit will cease to work. Clean the filter on a regular basis as dust and debris buildup decrease the airflow.

  • Turn the power off and unplug your air conditioning unit.

  • Locate and remove the AC filter. The filter is in the front grille. Pull the front grille off and slide the filter out of the retaining clips. Depending on your model, the front grille may open outward but not come off.

  • Clean the filter thoroughly under cold water. Use your hand or a rag to wipe away built-up dust and debris. Allow the filter to air dry completely. Slide the air filter back into the unit and close the front grille.

HVAC Air Conditioner

  • Turn the circuit breaker to the HVAC unit off. Locate the air filter on your HVAC system. The air filter is found along the return air duct. If screws are present, remove the screws using the appropriate screwdriver and slide the filter cover off. If there are no screws present, slide the cover off. You will now see the filter.

  • Remove the filter from the ductwork. Pull the filter straight out and discard. Slide the replacement filter straight into the housing. Be sure to slide the filter in the direction of the arrows printed on the casing.

  • Slide the filter cover back over the filter housing. If screws were present, replace them and tighten with the screwdriver. The AC unit is now ready for use. Turn the circuit breaker back to "on."

Tips & Warnings

  • If the compressor has already frozen or ice is present, turn the system to "fan" and allow it to run for several hours. This will allow the ice to melt. Once the ice has melted, turn the AC unit back to the regular setting.

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  • Photo Credit window air conditioner image by Aaron Kohr from
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