Denton County Heating & Air Services
Ice on an Outdoor Heat Pump: What You Need to Know

Ice on an Outdoor Heat Pump: What You Need to Know

While spending time outside on a chilly winter morning, you may have noticed a layer of ice or frost beginning to form on your outdoor heat pump. This could be alarming, especially if this is the first time you’ve witnessed ice on your pump. You may even consider replacing your heating system.

But is ice on a heat pump truly cause for concern? The answer is, well, it depends. It’s important to first understand the mechanisms your unit has in place to prevent the buildup of ice, so you can determine whether it demands professional attention.

Why Does Ice Form on a Heat Pump?
Frost, or even a thin layer of ice, is actually a common occurrence on an outdoor unit. It routinely forms when the refrigerant in your pump makes the pump cooler than the dew point (the temperature at which humidity in the surrounding air changes to liquid).

Your heat pump has a natural mechanism by which it melts any ice that forms. This mechanism involves sending hot refrigerant back through the coil that leads outside. Usually, this melts ice fairly quickly and no damage occurs.

When Is Ice on a Heat Pump a Concern?
But how much is too much when it comes to ice on an outdoor unit? Rule of thumb: If something looks out of the ordinary, it probably is. So, if a thick layer of ice has formed on your pump, or if the ice doesn’t go away after a couple of hours, there might be something wrong with the unit itself.

For instance, sometimes coils get blocked so badly by ice that heat transfer cannot occur between the refrigerant and the surrounding air. This can result in damage to fan blades and internal leaking of refrigerant.

Solutions for Your Outdoor Heat Pump
There are a number of potential reasons for excessive ice buildup. Take a close look at your unit to see if you notice any clues: Has it sunk into the ground, leaving no spot for the ice to melt and drain? Is water from the roof constantly dripping onto the unit?

The problem could also be due to a bad defrost control or sensor. It could also mean that the defrost thermostat needs to be replaced. An HVAC technician might also have to check your fan motor, as well as the refrigerant charge in your system.

Regardless of the seriousness of your problem, you need a knowledgeable and experienced HVAC company that you can trust. 1st Choice Air Solutions provides 24/7 service to homeowners in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Contact us today if you are experiencing problems with your heating and cooling system or want to schedule routine maintenance.


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