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Should Ice Appear on My Heat Pump in the Winter?

Heat pumps are increasing in popularity as ways to provide effective heating and cooling throughout the year. Where heat pumps once struggled with energy efficiency during cold weather, newer models have overcome this problem: you can expect your heat pump to keep your home warm all the way to the spring.

However, you might notice a somewhat disconcerting effect occurring to the outside of your heat pump during the colder days of the season: ice forming along the cabinet and the outdoor refrigerant coil. This doesn’t look right… is it a cause for concern that will require professionals to fix?

Most of the time, ice on a heat pump is not an issue

At times when the temperature is 40°F or below and relative humidity is high, ice forming along the outdoor coils is normal. The reason is that the coil is absorbing heat from the air, and drawing moisture with it. This moisture will freeze along the coil in the low outdoor temperature.

Although a layer of ice will restrict the coil’s heat absorption abilities, the heat pump is designed with this in mind. Periodically, defrost controls activate that reverse the operation of the heat pump so that the coil releases heat and melts off the ice.

Call for assistance if the ice doesn’t melt off

If you notice that the ice on your heat pump isn’t melting away after two hours or so, there may indeed be an issue with its operation. The most likely cause is that the defrost controls have malfunctioned. Another possibility is a broken reversing valve, which is the component responsible for switching the heat pump between heating and cooling mode and thus what allows the coil to start to exhaust heat that will defrost the ice.

The problem could also be a loss of refrigerant through a leak, which makes it hard for the coil to release heat. This is a major trouble for the whole heat pump, as it can lead to permanent damage to the compressor. Call for technicians right away to see what’s wrong and repair it.

Donald P. Dick Air Conditioning can provide repairs for your heat pump in Clovis, CA. We have 24/7 emergency service available, and we offer the fastest turnaround you can find!