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When Heat Pump Ice Is a Problem

If you’re using a heat pump to keep your home warm this winter, you may notice ice building up on the outside coil of your system. If you do, don’t be alarmed. Heat pump ice is to be expected during especially cold days, and is not automatically a problem. However, it may become an issue if other parts of your heat pump stop working correctly. Let’s take a look at where heat pump ice comes from, and why you should keep an eye on it.

Ice Formation

When a heat pump is heating a home, it is evaporating refrigerant in order to siphon heat from the air around the unit. The air temperature around the heat pump drops as thermal energy is siphoned off. Condensation also forms on the coil, as the air temperature drops below the dew point. The combination of these two effects can result in the condensate on the coil freezing into ice.

When to Call for Repairs

The reason that ice isn’t normally a problem for heat pumps is that they make use of defrost cycles to get rid of it. The system will periodically switch refrigerant flows for a little while, venting heat through the outside coil to melt the ice. If that defrost cycle were to fail, though, the system would be susceptible to a range of issues. Unchecked ice buildup cuts off the coil from the air that it needs in order to heat the home. The weight of the ice can warp the coil, as well as spread to other parts of the heat pump. If you see that most of your heat pump is covered in ice, you should call for repairs.

Call Shavitz Heating and Air Conditioning if you need heat pump services. We serve the entirety of Chicago, IL.

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