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Heat Pump Freezing Up? What May Be Causing the Problem and What You Can Do

Monday, March 17, 2014

While it's normal for some frost to build up on a heat pump's outdoor condenser coil, too much ice can cause problems. Your unit has a defrost cycle that should take care of the build-up that comes from regular operation. A pressure switch and/or timer activates the cycle every 30 to 90 minutes to reverse the flow of refrigerant. The warm gas then flows through the coil and melts any ice. If too much ice collects and gets heavily packed around the evaporator and condenser, heat can't transfer from the gas to the outdoor air, and the defrost cycle won't be effective.

Tips for Defrosting Your Heat Pump

A heat pump freezing up like this can cause permanent damage to the unit. By taking the following steps, you can help it defrost as it should:

  • Preserve adequate air flow. Yard debris such as leaves, tall grass and branches can blow in around and under the condenser unit and block vital air flow. Dirty coils also can hold in moisture and let excess frost accumulate. To prevent this, keep the area clear of debris, and clean the evaporator coils periodically.
  • Remove excessive ice safely. Ice build-ups resulting from leaky rain gutters or winter storms should be removed by pouring water over the condenser. Never attempt to chip away the ice using a sharp tool that could damage the coils. Keeping your rain gutters in good repair will help avoid future problems.
  • Level the heat pump if it's settled. If it's not level, water can collect beneath the unit. When this freezes, it can restrict air circulation. To stop this, level the unit and address any drainage concerns.

If you're dealing with repeated heat pump freeze-ups, have a trusted HVAC contractor investigate the cause. The unit's thermostat or sensor may be malfunctioning, or there could be an issue with the defrost relay or the fan motor. The reversing valve could also be stuck, or there may be a problem with its solenoid coil.

Is your heat pump freezing up and you need help? Contact us today to find a West Texas contractor in your area.

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