Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing Blog

Why Your Heat Pump has Ice on it

If you’re using a heat pump to heat your home this winter, you’ll probably notice ice building up on the outside coil while it’s running. This is an important thing to keep an eye on, as it serves to indicate whether or not part of your heat pump is working. Heat pump ice isn’t necessarily a problem, but it can become so if you’re not careful. Read on to find out where heat pump ice comes from, and when you should call for repairs.

Why Ice Forms on the Heat Pump

When a heat pump is in heating mode, the outside coil evaporates refrigerant to absorb heat from the surrounding air. This causes the temperature of the air around the heat pump coil to drop, as thermal energy is siphoned from it to heat the home. The process also causes condensation to form on the coil. If the air temperature drops far enough, the condensate will freeze.

When it’s a Problem

If ice is allowed to build up on the coil, it will cut the heat pump off from the air it needs for thermal energy. The weight of the ice can eventually warp the coil, and it can spread to other parts of the system to cause further problems. Normally, a heat pump avoids this issue by using a defrost cycle. The system will reverse the flow of refrigerant to temporarily melt the ice off the coil every hour or two. If the defrost cycle malfunctions, though, the ice will threaten the system again. If your heat pump looks to be mostly covered in ice, you should call for repairs just to make sure everything is functioning properly.

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