Concerned that your heat pump has TOO much ice on it?
As we continue to have temps at or below freezing, we handle a lot of calls about heat pumps. Heat pumps function differently at extreme temps as they are not able to pull heat from the outside air for energy.
Heat pumps will naturally ice up in winter but will periodically go into a defrost cycle to defrost the coils. This keeps the unit running efficiently. The outdoor coils of a heat pump maintain a temperature below 32° F during normal heating operation. Because of this, any moisture in the air will tend to cause frost and ice to form on the coils. The more humid it is outside (misty, rainy or sleeting conditions are the worst), the more frost will form on the unit. Concerned that your heat pump is frozen?
It is not normal however, for the entire unit to be encased in ice for an extended period of time. Proper heat transfer between the outside air and the freon can’t occur if the coils are blocked by ice. This would indicate a problem and should be addressed quickly to avoid serious damage to the equipment. This is why we advise up to ¼ inch is ok.
Different heat pumps have different ways of determining when to go into defrost. Some are mechanical; others use solid state controls with temperature sensors but all must go into defrost to keep from icing up. During the defrost cycle, the fan on the outside unit will stop and there may be steam let off the unit. It is extremely loud while defrosting and can take up to 10 min.
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