My mother has asthma and tells me she needs the AC on almost year round. The AC unit is outside the condo we own, and it connects to the coils in the heater/ventilation system.

We are experiencing poor cooling, (not enough cold air circulating - temp is not low enough) and ice where the coils are:

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  • What should I do to fix this situation now, and in the long term?

Since she is home alone often I need to understand what causes this so I can perform proactive maintenance, rather than responding to emergencies and giving her unnecessary distress and anxiety.

Much appreciated

  • This answer might be useful. There are 3 main causes to the evaporator icing up (in order of most likely to least likely). 1. Not enough air flow through evaporator (dirty filter, closed vents/registers, under powered blower). 2. Refrigerant over charged (call HVAC technician and have the refrigerant level checked). 3. Refrigerant under charged (call HVAC technician and have them find/fix the leak and recharge the system). – Tester101 Jul 1 '14 at 16:07

I'll let someone else take a stab at helping you fix your immediate problems, but I'll take a crack at the deeper issue. From your profile, I see that you live in New York. Assuming your mother does as well, your climate is wet, but only very hot for a few months out of the year. Running a central A/C unit year-round simply to dry the air out is a gross misuse of the equipment, and is probably making the house freezing cold for no reason, at high cost, and putting unnecessary wear-and-tear on the poor thing.

If your mother needs dry air to alleviate her asthma, have you considered using a dehumidifier to dry the air? It'll be a lot more inexpensive and cost-effective than running the A/C all the time. That must be costing a fortune.

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  • You're right about the climate, and location near NYC (thank you for thinking about that). I agree it is a misuse of the equipment but now there is a psychological dependency... or association of cool air = health. I believe we do have a dehumidifier, but need to investigate more. Have any tips? – goodguys_activate Jul 1 '14 at 16:33
  • Is there a dehumidifier that has some kind of up/down control or humidity readout? Giving her the control would allow her to independently make a living adjustment that is more cost effective and provides for a better life. – goodguys_activate Jul 1 '14 at 16:34
  • I live in the desert, so I don't know much about dehumidifiers, but I'm sure one with those characteristics exists. On another note, before A/C or dehumidifiers, doctors used to tell people with respiratory illnesses to move to the desert. The naturally dry air does wonders for them. – iLikeDirt Jul 1 '14 at 16:50
  • You might be able to find a thermostat (or at least a weather station), that will report the humidity. Whole house dehumidifiers can be connected to most HVAC systems, and can indeed have a separate control panel installed (or may be integrated with the thermostat). Contact your local HVAC company to discuss the installation of such a system. – Tester101 Jul 1 '14 at 17:00

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