Using a heat pump to keep your home warm during the winter months is a popular and effective option. One thing you will notice, however, is that there are times when the ice will accumulate on the system’s outdoor condensing unit/compressor. Luckily, there is something you can do when you see your heat pump covered in frost or ice.

How Heat Pumps Ice Up There are two main factors that contribute to ice on your heat pump’s outdoor unit.

First, the condenser/compressor unit is exposed to winter weather such as snow, hail, and freezing rain. If that weren’t enough, the heat pump also takes heat out of the already cold air, which can cause water vapor in the air to turn into liquid and subsequently into ice. When ice accumulates on the outdoor coils, it hampers the ability of your heat pump to extract heat from the air and will have a noticeable effect on the efficiency and effectiveness of the process.

How to Get Rid of Ice You may be able to pick pieces of ice off by hand, but don’t use sharp tools to scrape it off or you risk damaging the equipment. The best option is just to wait till your heat pump’s defrost cycle kicks in. The defrost cycle is set to come on once a certain temperature is reached and will run for a long enough period to melt an expected amount of ice. This cycle works by temporarily reversing the process from heating to air conditioning mode, so the refrigerant is releasing indoor heat in the outdoor unit. While this is happening, your heat pump’s backup heating element will provide heat inside your house. While a bit of ice is normal, there are situations when an HVAC professional will need to address the icing problem.

If a significant part of the outside unit is covered in ice, there is something wrong, and you should have someone look at the unit. If you see your northern New Jersey home’s heat pump icing up and can’t address the situation yourself, please contact Pipe Works Services Our goal is to help educate our customers in Chatham, NJ, and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about heat pumps and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide. Image courtesy of Shutterstock

company icon