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Is it a Bad Thing if My Heat Pump is Covered in Ice?

heat-pump-repairThere are some symptoms that, when you notice them, should instantly that your system needs to be repaired. Some, however, are a bit trickier to diagnose at first glance. Heat pump ice, for example, could be nothing to worry about. Or, it could mean that your system is in dire need of repairs. If you see ice on the outdoor portion of your heat pump, and you’re not sure what to do about it, read on for more information.

Why It Happens

Heat pump ice occurs as a result of the system absorbing thermal energy from the air around it. As the heat pump pulls heat from the air, condensation forms on the coil. If the temperature outside is below freezing, or the absorption of thermal energy brings it below freezing, that condensation will form ice on the coil.

This is not inherently an issue. Heat pump manufacturers have accounted for this, and most if not all systems have defrost cycles to prevent the ice from building up too much. During a defrost cycle, the heat pump will reverse refrigerant flows briefly to heat up the outdoor coil and melt any ice on it. It’s when this defrost cycle fails that problems start to occur.

When Ice is Problematic

The more ice covers the heat pump’s evaporator coil, the less access the system will have to thermal energy in the air. That means that the system’s ability to heat the home will slowly decline the more ice builds up on the coil. Eventually, the coil can become entirely encased in ice and the heat pump won’t be able to heat the home at all. As we mentioned earlier, this is only likely to happen if the heat pump’s defrost cycle malfunctions in some way.

How to Tell When Your Heat Pump is in Trouble

So, how do you know when your heat pump’s defrost cycle is functioning or not? Well, it’s not really an exact science. Mostly, it’s just a good idea to keep an eye on the coil and check to see how much ice is on it. If there isn’t that much ice on the system, and it’s not building up around the coil, then you should be fine. If the ice is covering more than half of the coil, though, then you might want to call a professional to come have a look at it. The longer you wait, the more ice is going to build up and the harder time the heat pump will have heating the home. Ice buildup can also cause more serious, long-term problems for your heat pump, so make sure that you have the defrost cycle repaired before that happens.

Douglas Cooling & Heating offers comprehensive heat pump repair services throughout Pelham, AL. If your heat pump needs repairs for any reason, contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our expert technicians. We can make sure that your heat pump serves you well all year-round no matter what shape it’s in right now.

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