Heat Pump Icing Up? Here’s What to Do

Heat Pump Icing Up? Here's What to DoHeat pump icing up? It’s not always a cause for concern. In winter conditions, it’s normal for the coil to have a light coating of ice or white frost, and the unit is designed to switch to defrost mode periodically to melt any excessive accumulation. Today’s heat pumps use solid-state control modules or sophisticated Demand Defrost systems to regulate the defrost cycle.

If the top of the heat pump and inside the coil are totally encased in ice for an extended period, though, it won’t be able to defrost properly. When the coils are completely iced up, warmth can’t transfer between the outside air and the unit’s refrigerant. This can adversely impact your heat pump’s efficiency, and it could result in permanent damage to the equipment. If you notice the heat pump icing up due to the following issues, you can take preventative measures to ensure it’s working properly when you need it to.

  • The coil is blocked by leaves, yard debris or snow. Clear away obstructions from around the sides and underneath the unit.

  • The coil is getting covered with ice when water drips on it from a leaking gutter, or from freezing rain. Use a water hose to remove the buildup, and repair the gutter to help prevent a recurrence.

  • The heat pump has settled or sunk, and water can’t drain away from it properly, which can result in an ice buildup during the winter. You’ll need the assistance of an HVAC specialist to elevate and level the unit.

If none of the above issues are the cause, contact your HVAC contractor as soon as possible. There may be a problem with your heat pump’s defrost mechanism, such as a faulty timer, or a bad thermostat, sensor or relay. The unit could also be low on refrigerant, or there may be a restriction that needs professional attention.

If you need expert help because of the heat pump icing up, contact Aladdin Heating and Cooling. We’ve served the home comfort needs of West Bloomfield, Rochester Hills and all of the surrounding communities since 1945.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Warren, Michigan 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.

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