What Causes Frozen Heat Pumps?

Frozen heat pumps can throw homeowners for quite a loop if they freeze up on a winter day. In some conditions, the coil will be covered in a light frost or ice, warranting a call to your repair person. However, a frozen pump doesn’t spell the end of your unit.

Why do heat pumps freeze?

Heat flows from warm air into cold air, so it takes a lot of energy to heat the cold air being pulled in from outside. You can’t pull heat from cold air. To make up for that, the refrigerant inside the unit has to be colder than the air outside. As the cold air moves through the unit, condensation forms, and that gathers on the coil and creates frost. When enough condensation builds up, frost and ice form on the pump coil.

How to deal with frozen heat pumps

Your pump has a defrost mode that automatically starts, cutting down on frost and ice buildup. When this happens, your unit essentially runs in the cooling mode. This usually cuts down on frost and ice, but if the temperature is below freezing, this defrost might not always work as planned.

Frozen heat pumps can sometimes be remedied by homeowners, but it’s best to contact a repair technician to make sure the freezing is not a sign of a bigger problem. Turn off your unit and pour water on it to get ice off before determining if more troubleshooting is necessary.

There are a few things that homeowners can do to decrease the chances of their heat pump freezing. Keep your heat pump clean and keep the area around it free of debris such as leaves, grass and snow. Make sure your unit is getting good airflow. Change filters regularly and clean the evaporator coils on an annual basis.

Frozen heat pumps may seem like an easy problem to handle, but don’t hesitate to contact your technician. Freezing may be the result of weather conditions or other uncontrollable issues. Always exercise caution when doing your own repairs on your unit — it is delicate –and it will keep running for years to come.

For more information about frozen heat pumps, contact the experts at SameDay Heating & Air. We proudly serve Salt Lake City and northern Utah.

Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about heat pumps and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

SameDay Heating & Air services the Northern area of Utah.  Visit our website to see our special offers to get started today!

Image via Shutterstock.com

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  • About Don: Don Weaver, owner of SameDay Heating & Air, holds a BS degree from Purdue University. He has owned SameDay since 1986 and operates it along with his wife, Jackie. He is active in a number of local and national associations and enjoys grand children, fly-fishing and aviation...» Read More