Outdoor heat pumps often “ice up” during the cold months, especially here in Colorado.
The good news is that outdoor heat pumps are designed to be in all different kinds of weather (if they’re of reasonable quality, anyway). Some frost or even a small amount of ice is usually nothing to worry about, especially if your system appears to be working normally.
However, excessive amounts of ice can cause damage to even the most robust outdoor heat pump. In this article, we’ll explore how you can determine how much ice is too much and what to do about it.
We’ll also discuss some of the advantages of geothermal HVAC heat pump systems. At Best Buy Heating and Air, we install the vital components indoors, such as the fan, compressor, and pump—eliminating worries about outdoor weather or temperature conditions.
For now, let’s get started with what to do about an iced over outdoor heat pump:
Outdoor Heat Pumps During a Colorado Winter: How Much Ice is Too Much?
As you learned above, some amounts of frost or ice on your heat pump usually aren’t anything to worry about during the cold months. Some frost is likely to form on the coils especially, since the refrigerant will turn to a gas and condense when it touches the coil. When it’s cold, the condensation freezes.
Your heat pump also more than likely has a defrosting function as part of its normal operating cycle. Every so often, the defrost cycle kicks on for 10 or 15 minutes to warm up the pump and coils. This prevents too much ice from building up.
When an outdoor heat pump can’t defrost itself, either due to a malfunction in the defrosting system or—in rare cases—because it’s so cold outside that it simply can’t defrost quickly enough, the unit is certain to malfunction or, in extreme cases, become damaged.
When too much ice does manage to accumulate, varying problems can occur, none of which are desirable. For example, if the coils become completely blocked by ice, the heat output of the unit will be noticeably reduced, lowering the temperature in your home. Alternatively, if ice buildup is visibly blocking the fins of the unit, air won’t be able to pass through. If it’s cold enough outside for that to happen, you definitely don’t want to be without heat!
Serious damage can occur to the unit by ice buildup. The fan blades could break, the coils could be damaged, refrigerant could leak, or other components could malfunction or be broken.
If you noticed that the heat output in your home isn’t as warm as it should be and your heat pump appears to have quite a bit of ice on it, it’s likely to be frozen over. If that’s the case, you’ll need to call a professional HVAC technician immediately.
An Alternative Immune From Weather: Indoor Geothermal Pumps
Geothermal energy is affordable, efficient, and environmentally friendly. The ground beneath us stores heat at a very stable temperature. Geothermal HVAC systems take advantage of this with a system of pipes (called a loop) which are filled with circulating water. The water carries the heat with it back to the surface where we can use it in our homes and businesses.
Geothermal heat pumps are often misunderstood as being useful for heating only. While we’re a few months too early to be worried about air conditioning in the summer, it’s worthwhile to note that geothermal energy can be used for blazing cold air conditioning as well—since during the summer the underground is cooler, we can instead cool down the water in the loop and bring that back up to the surface. It’s the same process as heating, just reversed.
Perhaps the best part about the geothermal energy systems installed by Best Buy Heating and Air is the fact that we can install the fan, compressor, and pump system indoors, so you never have to worry about the temperatures outside affecting your unit.
Proper installation is a very, very important part of setting up a geothermal energy system. When done correctly by professionals like the ones on our team, a buried loop system can work for up to 55 years. Maintenance needs on geothermal systems in Windsor are also quite low, only requiring annual coil cleaning and filter changes.
Best Buy Heating and Air is Here to Help All Winter Long
If you have an iced over heat pump or any other HVAC maintenance needs, please use our simple service request form.
We look forward to serving you!