Heat PumpsWhy Ice Forms on Heat Pumps During Winter

If you’re using a heat pump to keep warm this winter, you may notice ice forming on the outside part of the system. If you see this happening, don’t panic. It isn’t necessarily a problem, but it can become one under the right circumstances. Ice should be monitored as an indicator of whether or not your heat pump is working properly. Let’s take a look at why ice forms on heat pumps in the first place, and when you should call for repairs.

Why It Happens

A heat pump evaporates refrigerant to absorb heat from the air surrounding the outside coil, then releases that heat inside in order to heat the home. Two things happen as a result of this. First, the temperature around the heat pump drops as thermal energy is leeched from it. Second, condensation forms on the coil as the air is cooled past the dew point. If the temperature drops below freezing, the condensate will freeze and form ice.

When to Call for Repairs

If ice is allowed to build up on the heat pump coil, it will cut off the system’s access to the outside air. This will prevent the system from siphoning enough heat to warm the home. As the ice continues to build, it will spread to other parts of the system and cause them to malfunction. Eventually, the ice can cause the entire system to break down.

This isn’t normally an issue because heat pumps use defrost cycles in order to melt the ice off of their coils. If the defrost cycle malfunctions, however, the heat pump will have no way to defend itself against the ice. If you see your heat pump more than half-iced over, you may have a defrost cycle malfunction.

If your heat pump needs repair, call G & S Heating Cooling & Electric. We offer a full range of heat pump services throughout Everett, WA.


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