Natural ice isn’t all that common in Orange County, even on the coldest of days. If you’re using a heat pump to keep warm this winter, though, you may notice ice forming on the coil of your heat pump. If so, don’t panic. It isn’t necessarily a problem to have heat pump ice, and is even expected under certain circumstances. However, ice can quickly become a problem under the wrong circumstances. Let’s take a look at why ice forms on heat pumps, and when you need to call for repairs.
Why it Happens
When a heat pump is in heating mode, it evaporates refrigerant in its outside coil to absorb heat from the air. There are two effects created by this process. First, the temperature around the heat pump drops as the thermal energy is siphoned from the air. Second, condensation forms on the coil as the air is cooled past the dew point. If the temperature drops below freezing, the condensate will form ice on the coil.
When It’s a Problem
Heat pump ice is a problem when it is allowed to cover most of the coil. The more the ice builds, the more it cuts the coil off from access to the surrounding air. This prevents the coil from siphoning enough thermal energy to heat the home properly. If the ice builds far enough, it can spread to other parts of the system and cause them to break down. Heat pumps are designed to combat this using a defrost cycle, which occasionally vents heat through the coil to melt the ice. If the defrost cycle malfunctions, though, the ice will become problematic. Call for repairs if you notice ice covering more than half of your heat pump.
If your heat pump needs repairs, call Saddleback Plumbing. We offer heat pump services of all kinds throughout Laguna Hills, CA.