Troubleshooting Tips For Winter Icing
During the colder winter months, your heat pump’s outdoor unit will sometimes be coated with frost, or even light layer of ice, on the sides. This is perfectly normal and your equipment will go into “defrost” mode to remove that frost. However, follow these troubleshooting tips for winter icing if the unit has a heavy iced coating, the coils are encased in ice, or the entire unit is covered with snow and ice.
All that ice prevents the transfer of heat between the refrigerant and the outside air, and impedes the operation of the heat pump. If you ignore this icy situation, you could damage the unit beyond repair. Ice in the coils can damage sensitive fins and fan blades and can eventually lead to compressor failure.
Troubleshooting tips for winter icing:
- The unit is not defrosting. Under normal conditions, your heat pump switches to air conditioning mode for a few minutes, which heats up the outdoor coils enough to melt any frost and light ice that has accumulated. If the unit is not defrosting, ice can build up in a hurry. Defrost issues can be caused by faulty relays, controls and sensors.
- Outdoor fan problem. The fan motor may be failing or completely dead. The fan itself could be damaged, which impedes the release of heat from the unit and causes ice to accumulate.
- Low refrigerant. If your heat pump has a slow leak of refrigerant, eventually the charge will be so low that the system is not producing enough heat to melt the ice. When this happens, you will also have issues with the unit reaching the set temperature.
What should you do? Actually, let’s go over what you should NEVER do – do not use a hard or pointy object to try to chip away the ice! Those fan coils are very delicate and can be easily damaged. Instead, use water from a hose to melt the ice. Remove any debris from around the unit and check for leaky gutters that may be dripping water on the top of the unit. And don’t forget to call the service techs at LHT Cooling, Heating and Refrigeration, Inc.