Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing Blog

What It Means When Your Heat Pump Ices Over

If you have a heat pump installed in your home, you may have noticed ice building up on the outside unit while it’s running. This isn’t an emergency, per se, or even necessarily a problem. However, it can quickly become an issue under the right circumstances. Read on to find out why ice forms on your heat pump, and when to call for repairs.

Why it Happens

Ice forms on your heat pump as a side effect of its natural operation. The outer coil evaporates refrigerant to absorb heat from the air around the unit. This causes the temperature of the air to drop significantly, while condensation forms on the coil. If the temperature drops below freezing, the condensate freezes and forms ice on the coil.

When it’s a Problem

Ice is an issue for a number of reasons. It cuts off the coil’s access to the surrounding air, which means it can’t siphon heat to warm the home. The weight of the ice can also become a problem, eventually getting so heavy that it warps the coil. The reason that you don’t necessarily need to call for repairs as soon as you see heat pump ice is because there are safeguards in place.

Heat pumps normally use defrost cycles to melt the ice off of their coils. They reverse their refrigerant flows to vent heat out of the coil, getting rid of the ice before resuming normal operations. If you notice ice covering more than half of your heat pump, however, it could mean that the defrost cycle has malfunctioned. At that point, you need to call for repairs.

If your heat pump needs repair, call Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing. We offer heat pump repair services throughout Bethesda, MD.