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Frozen Heat Pump Common in Cold Weather

The recent winter storms in the South caused a lot of roads, trees and powerlines to ice up. But another common item that was icing up during the storms were heat pumps.

A frozen heat pump is not uncommon in the winter months, especially around frozen precipitation.A frozen heat pump is very common in cold, wet weather. It is normal for the entire coil to be covered in a white frost, even light ice, during certain weather conditions. But it is not normal for the entire unit to be encased in ice; including the top of the unit and the insides of the coil for an extended period of time. This indicates a problem and should be addressed quickly to save energy and avoid serious damage to the equipment.

All heating systems have a defrost cycle that is normally activated by a timer. The timer may be set to defrost every 30, 60 or 90 minutes. Most of the newer equipment today uses solid-state control modules with temperature sensors. Even more sophisticated is the Demand Defrost system which makes calculations based on the outside air, the refrigerant temperature in the coil, and run time. This is the most efficient way to defrost.

Some units may also be equipped with a pressure switch that detects frost buildup. When the defrost cycle is activated the freon flow will reverse itself and the warm gas will defrost the lines.

Your Frozen Heat Pump May Not Be Defrosting

If a heat pump is severely iced-up during winter use, it’s possible that it’s not defrosting, but there are many other causes.

Hopefully we won’t have any more icing conditions this winter like we’ve had twice already this season, but if we do and you start to experience a frozen heat pump, here is what you can do to help stay warm.

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Freezing rains can cause problems. If ice is interfering with the fan motion, shut the unit down to prevent damage to the fan blades and other parts. Owners can allow the ice to melt on its own, or they can pour water over the unit. Do not try to break the ice away with a hammer or ice pick. Ensure the copper coolant lines are not ice covered. Pouring water over the lines will remove the buildup. Make sure the guttering system is directing water away from the heat pump and not pouring over the gutters onto the unit.

Important: Whatever you do, never pick the ice off with a sharp object. The refrigerant coils and fins can be damaged very easily on a frozen heat pump.

If the unit ices-up again, it is time to schedule a service call. Brown and Reaves Services, Inc. 843-497-9867. Don’t forget to Like us on Facebook and grab your 20% off coupon on our next service call.

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