Your heat pump may ice up in the winter; it’s common enough. Icing happens when the water in the outdoor air comes into contact with a surface that’s below its dew point, such as your heat pump condenser, and it condenses into water. The water freezes when the outdoor air is below freezing. While a slightly frosty heat pump condenser unit is to be expected, it’s not normal for it to be completely encased in ice. Complete encasement is a sign of a malfunctioning unit. The problem of an excessively frosty heat pump must be fixed as soon as possible to prevent high energy bills and damage to the unit.
A properly functioning heat pump condenser unit will have a defrost cycle to defrost the coils periodically. Defrosting ensures that the unit runs efficiently. When coils are covered in ice, they can’t transfer heat effectively. Different heat pump models have different ways of determining when to defrost. Some have controls with temperature sensors while others are mechanical.
What Causes a Frosty Heat Pump?
- Snow or leaves blocking the outdoor coil could cause the airflow across them to be restricted, which will cause freezing up.
- If the condenser platform is sinking, there’s nowhere for the ice to melt and drain. This results in water accumulating inside the unit.
- Water from a leaking gutter dripping into the condenser unit can cause ice to accumulate and block the flow of air.
- Mechanical or electronic defects such as a malfunctioning defrost control or timer, or a worn out motor could be the culprit.
- Insufficient refrigerant charge or restricted refrigerant flow is another common cause of a frosty heat pump.
If you notice a frosty heat pump this season, contact Bruce Thornton Air Conditioning. Our HVAC experts know how to maintain and repair your heat pump. We’ve provided HVAC services to the South Plains area for more than 50 years and can ensure your home stays comfortable, even during the coldest months of the year.