Tips to Prevent a Heat Pump from Freezing Up
Many homeowners become alarmed when they notice ice forming on their heat pump. During wintry weather, it’s normal for a little ice to form on the heat pumps, but if the coil freezes up or the entire unit is encased in ice, the components may become damaged or begin to function abnormally.
How Heat Pumps Work
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Heat pumps make use of refrigerant to absorb heat from the outside atmosphere. When the unit begins to collect heat from the outside atmosphere, excess moisture may collect on the unit’s coils and could freeze up on very cold days. This can cause the unit to operate abnormally or stop working entirely.
The Importance of Your Unit’s Defrost Cycle
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To prevent the unit from freezing up, heat pumps are equipped with a defrost cycle that’s capable of removing any buildup of ice. The defrost cycle automatically comes on when the unit detects an excessive buildup of ice. The defrost cycle works by using heat from the refrigerant to melt the ice.
The Limitations of the Defrost Cycle
When the defrost cycle kicks in, the heat pump uses a backup heating cycle to ensure that your home stays warm until all the ice is melted and the unit begins to operate normally. However, if the defrost cycle fails to melt the buildup of ice, it could lead to a number of problems.
The first step in preventing or solving this problem is to understand the factors that cause heat pumps to freeze up. Let’s take a look at some of these factors.
If there is inadequate airflow through the heat pump, the temperature of the refrigerant can fall below freezing. In order to prevent this, you must ensure adequate airflow through the entire unit and clear away any debris, snow drifts, and leaves that accumulate near the coils of the heat pump. Poor airflow may also occur as a result of dirty coils, so you should clean the pump’s coils regularly.
Freezing Rain or Dripping Water
If freezing rain continues to fall on the heat pump, its topmost part may begin to freeze, eventually followed by the rest of the unit. Usually, the heat pump will defrost in a day or two, but if it doesn’t, you need to call an expert HVAC technician to properly remove the ice. Aside from falling rain, water from a leaky gutter can also cause the heat pump to freeze up. You should check the gutters and repair the leaky sections, if any.
Lack of Maintenance
The most common factor that causes heat pumps to freeze up is lack of maintenance. The filters need to be regularly checked, cleaned, and inspected for excessive wear and tear. Any buildup of ice on the unit must be removed as quickly as possible.
To keep your heat pump in the best working condition, arrange for regular maintenance of your device by your HVAC contractor. Contact a professional HVAC contractor if the defrost cycle on your unit is unable to clear away ice buildups.