Heat pumps operate a little differently than regular heating and air conditioning units. Instead of cooling or heating the air and then circulating it in your home, they work by transferring heat from one place to another. The advantage of this is that a heat pump can work as both an air conditioner and a heater, although it’s best used in climates that don’t have extreme temperatures.
During the wintertime, the process of transferring heat can cause heat pumps to ice over in some areas. A thin layer of frost over the coils is normal and to be expected. However, when this amount becomes so great that it hinders the performance of the entire unit, it could be a sign of a deeper problem with your system. Here are a few tips from our experts at McMaster Heating and Air Conditioning on what to do when your heat pump gets iced up.
Observe the Cycles
Unlike most types of air conditioning systems, heat pump operation works in cycles, and frost forms over the compressor and coils during the “cooling” cycle. This is perfectly normal, so it’s important to first observe your heat pump carefully before concluding that the icing has reached problematic levels. Cooling and heating cycles can last for an entire day, so keep a close eye on your unit for at least 24 hours to see if the frosting resolves itself. If ice continues to coat the system, schedule a service visit with your technician right away.
Signs of Trouble
During this initial observation period, keep an eye out for several signs of trouble that could indicate more serious problems. Some of the things to pay attention to are the extent of the icing over and the length of time the ice stays on the unit. This is a definite sign that the defrost cycle isn’t activating, which could mean bigger problems in the long run.
Heat Pump First Aid
Once you determine that the ice isn’t going anywhere, book an appointment with an HVAC professional immediately. Cut the power to the unit and check the filters for any obstructions. Double-check all parts of the unit to make sure no debris or leaves are getting in the way of the condensing fan.
At McMaster, we can help keep your heat pump in great shape throughout the winter. Give us a call at (949) 481-7995 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment and get a free estimate on new heat pump installations today. We serve homeowners in Orange County and surrounding areas.