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Hot Air About Some Cool Stuff. Learn how maintenance agreements can help you maintain healthy indoor air quality throughout the year.

My Heat Pump Has Ice on It - What Should I do?

Learn how to handle the heating and air conditioning issues that crop up during the cold winter months.

Technician Inspecting Heat Pump

If you are concerned because your heat pump has ice on it, you may be wishing you had a personal heating and air conditioning expert there to give you some advice. Here’s the thing to remember: frost and ice can sometimes form on the coils of your heat pump, this is actually quite normal. Heat pumps have a defrost mode that will kick in to keep the coils thawed and allow the Freon to continue to transfer heat. While some noticeable frost on the outside coils of your heat pump is normal, a unit covered in ice may be cause for greater concern.

How Does Defrost Mode Work?

All heat pumps have a built-in defrost mode. In order to melt the ice from the coils, the heat pump will turn off the indoor fan (that blows heat through your vents). The outdoor fan will be stopped, and the heat pump will activate its cooling mode. In this way, the refrigerant becomes warm and melts the ice off the coils.

Once the heat pump melts the ice from the coils, or a set time has elapsed, it will reactivate its normal heating mode. From start to finish, the defrost process can take anywhere from 2-10 minutes depending on the heat pump.

What to Do If the Unit Is Not Defrosting

If the defrost mode on your heat pump is not activating, you may notice a buildup of ice on the rest of your unit as well. Ice buildup on the top of the unit and inside of the coil for any extended period of time may be a symptom of a larger problem that should be corrected as quickly as possible.

Before calling a HVAC professional, you may check for the following problems that can prevent the heat pump from properly defrosting:

  • Coil blocked by leaves or debris
  • Improper drainage – ice melt cannot drain off
  • Roof gutter dripping water onto top of heat pump
  • Clogged air intake filter – prevents proper airflow

If your heat pump remains iced, there could be a variety of problems, such as faulty defrost control, thermostat or sensor, bad defrost relay or low refrigerant charge, to name a few. The good news is that no matter what type of issue is plaguing your icy heat pump, our team at Morelli Heating and Air Conditioning is here to help.

Click this link to reach our team of heating and air conditioning professionals today; let us handle any problems with your heat pump, so you can get on with your day!


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