As you rely on your heat pump to keep you warm throughout the winter, you may notice ice starting to form on the outside unit. This is not necessarily a problem, but under the wrong circumstances it can definitely have a negative impact on the performance of the heat pump. In order to help you keep your heat pump in good condition, let’s take a look at when ice becomes a threat to the system.
Why Ice Forms on the Heat Pump
When the heat pump is in heating mode, it evaporates refrigerant to siphon heat from the air surrounding the outside unit. This has two effects. The first effect is that the temperature around the heat pump coil drops. The second effect is that condensation forms on the coil itself. If the temperature drops low enough, the condensate will freeze and form ice.
As ice builds and envelops the coil, it will prevent the system from accessing the thermal energy in the surrounding air. Your heat pump will suffer a dramatic decrease in its efficiency the more ice builds up on the coil. The ice can also warp the coil over time, requiring that the part be replaced.
When to Call for Repairs
Ice is not an issue most of the time because heat pumps use defrost cycles to melt the ice off of the coils. If you notice that your heat pump is more than half-covered in ice, though, you should call for repairs from professional technicians. (Do not try to fix it yourself.) That could be an indication that your system’s defrost cycle has malfunctioned, and further issues can’t be far behind.