Have you noticed ice forming on your heat pump while it’s operating? If so, don’t worry. At least, not yet. The outside of the heat pump icing over is a pretty common thing during the winter, especially in colder environments. Under certain circumstances, however, it can certainly become a problem. Read on to find out why your heat pump ices over some days, and when you should call for repairs.
What Causes It
When a heat pump is heating a home, it evaporates refrigerant to siphon thermal energy from the air around it. The heat is then sent inside to warm the home. Two things happen around the outer unit as a result of this process. First, obviously, the air around the heat pump gets colder. Second, condensation forms on the coil as the air is cooled past the dew point. If the temperature drops low enough, the condensate on the coil will freeze and become ice.
Ice buildup on the heat pump coil can be a big problem if it goes unchecked. The ice will cut off the coil’s access to the air around the heat pump, which it need in order to heat the home. Eventually, the weight of the ice can also cause the coil to warp. Just because there’s ice on your heat pump, though, doesn’t mean that you necessarily need to call for repairs.
When It’s a Problem
Pretty much all heat pumps have a defrost cycle, which is used to melt any ice buildup off of the coil on a regular basis. If the defrost cycle fails, though, you could be open to all of the negative effects listed above. If you notice that your heat pump is more than half-covered in ice, it may be that your defrost cycle has failed and you need repairs.