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Help! My Heat Pump Is Frozen!

Is Your Heat Pump Frozen?

It’s winter in the Baltimore area, and mid-Atlantic winters are especially brutal. One problem you may encounter this winter is a frozen heat pump. While it’s normal to have small amounts of frost on the coils of your heat pump, chucks of ice will prevent it from properly heating your home.

It’s always best to contact a heat pump professional to investigate problems with your heat pump, but below is a quick guide to some common causes of frozen heat pumps and what to do when you encounter them.

Why Is My Heat Pump Freezing Over?

It’s normal for your heat pump’s outdoor unit to get a little bit of frost on it. Typically, refrigerant in the heat pump is 10 to 20 degrees colder than the air outside. If outdoor temperatures are below the dew point—the point where water vapor becomes liquid—and below freezing it can result in frost on your unit. This usually happens with high humidity and below-freezing temperatures. When sheets of ice form on your heat pump, however, it may be caused by:

Poor Draining:  Water will condense in your outdoor unit, and it needs to be able to drain properly. Sometimes the concrete slab will settle, shifting everything around and preventing drainage.

Automatic Defrost Failure: Most heat pumps have automatic controls that switch the unit into defrost mode when it detects a buildup of ice. If this automatic control is failing, you may not be setting it at the right intervals of time, or it may need to be repaired or inspected by your local HVAC technician.

Restricted Airflow: In order for your heat pump to function properly, there has to be a continuous flow of air. Many things can contribute to blocking the airflow, including clogged filters, debris like leaves or clods of dirt, and a buildup of frost. On the indoor unit, clogged filters and even furniture can block air flow.

Electronic or Mechanical Problems: If your heat pump has a worn out motor, faulty valve operation, low refrigerant charge, or a broken fan, it won’t work properly, allowing layers of icy frost to build up.

Bad Weather: The Baltimore, MD area is no stranger to icy conditions. Huge amounts of snow, ice, and freezing rain can all cause your heat pump to malfunction if the buildup is too much. Overflow from gutters can also overwhelm your heat pump, so make sure any gutters overhanging your unit are properly maintained.

Prevent Your Heat Pump from Freezing in the Baltimore, Maryland Area

  • Make sure the filter is clean and the outdoor unit is free from all debris.
  • Routinely check to make sure your heat pump is able to drain, and if not, consult your local HVAC technician on ways to help this.
  • Check your automatic defrost, and set the timer according to your outdoor weather conditions.
  • Clear away small amounts of ice with water if the weather will not let it melt naturally. It’s always best to contact a professional, because this is only a temporary fix.
  • Schedule regular maintenance for your heat pump with a Maryland licensed heat pump professional.

Schedule Your Heat Pump Maintenance

You should always have your heat pump routinely checked at least twice a year. If you’re looking for a good heat pump professional in the Baltimore, MD area, contact All Seasons Heating & Cooling today!

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