Troubleshooting Your Heat Pump in the Winter

December 15, 2014

Keith Air Conditioning, Inc. Heat PumpIf you use a heat pump for heating in the winter, you’ve likely seen it ice up. If the heating system is working properly, the heat pump should eventually kick into a defrost cycle to melt the ice on the coil. However, an iced-over system can waste energy and eventually damage your equipment.

Why Is Your Heat Pump Icing Up?

The defrost cycle malfunctioning in some manner is the likely culprit. When air-source heat pumps get an electronic cue to defrost during their heating mode, a reversing valve should switch these appliances into air-conditioning mode, and the outside fan should shut off. Now in A/C mode, the refrigerant in the outside coil should heat up and melt the frost from the coil. After a short period of time, the system should return to normal heating mode, awaiting the next signal to defrost the coil.

This process has several steps and multiple components. If any one of them – whether reversing valve, sensors, refrigerant, timer, etc. – malfunctions, this can result in your heat pump icing up and staying that way.

What Can You Do About It?

In most cases, you’ll want a reliable HVAC technician to look at the system and address the icing issue. However, there’s plenty a homeowner can do to minimize the chances of the heat pump icing up. If the top of the outside unit is covered in ice, turn the system off and carefully remove the ice, but not with sharp objects. Don’t allow leaky rain gutters or melting icicles to drip on the outside unit, and push snow, leaves and other debris away from it. Most importantly, you can prevent icing by ensuring the HVAC system gets an annual maintenance check.

For more information on how to de-ice a heat pump in your Mobile area home, please contact us at Keith Air Conditioning, Inc.