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My Heat Pump Ices in the Winter

Heat pumps do ice up in winter. It is normal for the entire coil to be covered in a white frost or even light ice during certain weather conditions. Heat pumps will naturally ice up in winter but will periodically go into a defrost cycle to defrost the coils. This keeps the unit running efficiently.

It is not normal however, for the entire unit to be encased in ice for an extended period of time. Proper heat transfer between the outside air and the freon can not occur if the coils are blocked by ice. This would indicate a problem and should be addressed quickly to avoid serious damage to the equipment.

Different heat pumps have different ways of determining when to go into defrost. Some are mechanical; others use solid state controls with temperature sensors but all must go into defrost to keep from icing up.

There are many other reasons why a heat pump can ice up. Listed below are some of them. Items in blue can be addressed or fixed by the homeowner. Those in red usually require a service call.

  • Outdoor coil blocked-possibly with leaves or snow

  • Condenser platform has sunk-nowhere for ice to melt and drain

  • Leaking gutter dripping water onto top of unit

  • Freezing rain-causes top of unit to freeze over. If this happens rest of unit will also freeze over

  • Defective defrost control or timer

  • Defective defrost thermostat or sensor

  • Defective defrost relay

  • Sticking reversing valve

  • Defective reversing valve solenoid

  • Defective outdoor fan motor

  • Low refrigerant charge

  • Refrigerant restriction

Hope this has been of some assistance, however they are just rough guidelines and not all possible conditions are covered.


The company You Choose To Install and Service Your System Will Determine The Degree of Comfort and Satisfaction You Enjoy.

Excerpts of the preceding information has been compiled by Hannabery HVAC, which has graciously permitted us to include them on this web site as a service for all homeowners.

These "Common HVAC Problems" are provided FREE and as a consequence Climatemakers does not assume any liability resulting from any information we provide. In all cases where there is any possibility of injury, consequential damage, direct damage to your equipment or when recommended by the equipment manufacturer, your system should be repaired, inspected or maintained by a qualified technician.

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If you find an error on this page I would appreciate it if you would email us or call (757) 600-0422.

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