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Heat Pump Problems: Why Is There Ice on My System?

There are a number of reasons to consider the use of a heat pump on one’s property. First of all, a heat pump functions as both a heating and air conditioning system, eliminating the need for the use of both a designated heater and AC. Secondly, the heat pump heats incredibly efficiently, thanks to its utilization of the heat transfer process. Plus, modern heat pumps are more effective and reliable than ever, even when temperatures really drop. Because you use the system all year long, though, any problems with it can be incredibly alarming.

Scheduling routine heat pump maintenance twice a year — yes, twice, as heat pumps are pulling double duty for your comfort — will help to minimize the risk of problems developing with the system. No mechanical system is perfect, however, and you will eventually run into trouble with your heat pump. One issue that homeowners sometimes encounter is ice developing on the system. It is not uncommon, and it is actually not even unplanned for.

It May Not Be That Big of a Deal

When in heating mode, a heat pump draws heat out of the air outside by evaporating refrigerant. During this process, some humidity from the air outside can condense on the outdoor coils. That condensation can freeze up, causing ice to develop on the system. Now, we obviously don’t deal with a lot of freezing temperatures around here on winter days. Nights can get substantially colder, however, and this type of freezing is certainly not unheard of.

Heat pumps actually have a defrost cycle that will automatically come on in order to deal with this issue. Essentially, the system will just reverse its operation to vent heat outdoors, melting the ice. The heat pump won’t start cooling your home, but will have to use an auxiliary method to make up the difference until the defrost cycle is completed.

Problems That Can Lead to More Serious Icing

There are certainly instances in which ice on your heat pump is indicative of a more serious issue, of course. After all, heat pumps have been known to ice up in the summer, as well. That is why any excessive icing should always be evaluated by trained professionals.

  • Restricted airflow. If your heat pump is surrounded by debris, or airflow is otherwise restricted, icing will be more of an issue.
  • Defrost cycle malfunction. If your heat pump doesn’t sense that it is time for a defrost cycle, it will not thaw itself out.
  • Damaged reversing valve. Even if the heat pump recognizes the need for defrosting, it won’t be able to defrost if the reversing valve is stuck in one mode of operation.
  • Refrigerant leaks. Just like low refrigerant levels in a standard air conditioner can lead to icing of the evaporator coil, so too can low refrigerant levels in a heat pump lead to issues with icing over.

If you notice some frost or a thin layer of ice on your heat pump, keep an eye out to ensure that it thaws out. Should the problem persist and worsen, contact Express HVAC Services to schedule heat pump services in Cedar Park, TX.

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