It’s normal for your heat pumps to ice up during the winter months. The entire coil might even be covered in frost or ice during cold weather conditions. However, it’s not normal for the entire unit to be covered in ice for an extended period of time.
Heat pumps will naturally ice-up in the winter, but will periodically go into a defrost cycle to de-ice the coils and keep the unit running efficiently. If the coils are blocked by ice, proper heat transfer between the refrigerant and the outside air cannot occur. This can cause serious damage to your equipment.
The Defrost Cycle Explained
To prevent from icing up, heat pumps switch into air conditioning mode for a while until it unfreezes. This defrost mode only lasts 10-15 minutes, during which time heat strips start up to keep the air warm.
What to check if your unit is freezing up
- Air filter: If the air filter needs to be replaced, air flow is hindered causing your heat pump not to work properly.
- Air flow: If you don’t feel any air flowing from the vent, the blower motor or another part is malfunctioning. You can test this by setting the thermostat manually to fan and seeing if any blows through the vents.
- Fins: Check the fins for any debris, like dirt or leaves, that might be blocking the air from passing through.
- Leaky gutters: If a gutter is dripping water onto the top of the unit, you will need to repair your gutter.
If none of these issues seem to be the cause of your heat pump working improperly, it could be a bigger problem that you’ll need to have checked out by a technician. A buildup of ice over your unit will increase your electricity bill quite a bit and will be more expensive in the long term.
For more questions, or to schedule a heat pump inspection or any of our other services, call us at 804.276.2800 and see why W.G. Speeks has been the reliable Richmond, VA heating and air conditioning experts since 1943.