Russell's Heating & AC
Jul 16 2018

Why Does Ice Form on My Heat Pump?

If you’ve used a heat pump in your home during the winter season, then you may have noticed the outside unit starting to ice over. This isn’t necessarily a problem, especially if the temperature outside is already sub-freezing. However, it’s still something that you should keep a close eye on. Let’s take a look at why your heat pump occasionally ices over, and when you should call a professional to take a look at it.

Why Your Heat Pump Has Ice on It

Your heat pump is composed of two parts, the inside unit and the outside unit. When the heat is turned on, the outside unit begins to evaporate refrigerant in a coil inside its casing. This absorbs the thermal energy from the surrounding air, so that the heat pump can use it to warm the home. There are two side effects to this process. First, the temperature of the air surrounding the unit drops. Second, condensation begins to form on the coil itself as it heats up. The sub-freezing air temperature causes the condensation to freeze on the coil, forming ice. The longer the heat pump functions, the more ice spreads across the unit.

When to Call a Professional

Ice can actually be very problematic for heat pumps, as it blocks their access to the surrounding air. If the coil is completely covered in ice, it loses its ability to absorb thermal energy to heat the home. In order to prevent the unit from completely icing over, heat pumps are built with a defrost cycle. Every so often, the heat pump will reverse the flow of refrigerant to melt the ice off of the outside unit. If the defrost cycle ever malfunctions, however, the heat pump will eventually be completely covered in ice. So, if you are worried about the ice on your heat pump, take note of how much there is. If there is only a little ice on your heat pump, then you probably have nothing to worry about. If there is a lot of ice on your heat pump, or if it’s slowly increasing instead of decreasing, then you may have a problem.

If you suspect that your heat pump needs repair, call Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning. We provide heat pump repair services throughout the Inland Empire.

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