My Heat Pump Has Ice on It: Is That a Problem?

During the Nashville, TN winter, you may notice that the outdoor cabinet of your home’s heat pump has frost developing along the coil. This may seem alarming at first, and you’ll wonder if you need to call for professionals to repair the system. After all, ice appearing on the indoor coil during summer is bad news. Is this similar?

Ice on the outside cabinet isn’t necessarily an issue

We’ll start by saying that large piles of snow on a heat pump cabinet is trouble: you don’t want snowdrifts blocking the coil that draws heat from the outside. If this happens, however, just shovel the snow away and keep the area around the heat pump cabinet clear as much as possible.

However, what we’re talking about here is a layer of frost starting to appear along the coil itself. This is actually quite common and usually isn’t a reason to call technicians for repairs. What’s happening is that the coil is drawing moisture from the air along with the heat. If the temperature is 40°F or below and the relative humidity is above 70%, the moisture will change to ice along the coil. The heat pump has defrost controls to eliminate this. Periodically, the defrost controls will start a defrost cycle that sends refrigerant through the coils in the reverse direction. The coils will then release heat, melting away the snow.

If ice continues to develop over the coils after two hours or so and shows no signs of going away, then something may be wrong. The defrost controls could have broken, the reversing valve failed, or refrigerant is leaking from the system. This will require professionals to look into the situation and fix it. The ice will prevent proper heat exchange, affecting the heat pump’s ability to warm your home. If the problem is a loss of refrigerant charge, the heat pump will be in danger of a catastrophic breakdown unless it is repaired soon.

Mid-State Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing has the heat pump repair services you need in Nashville, TN. We’ve serve Middle Tennessee since 1970.

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