Heat Pump: Why Does Yours Keep Freezing Up in the Winter?

Posted on: 6 November 2018


If your heat pump is 10 years old or younger, you may hope that the appliance will last a few more years before you need to replace it. Although your heat pump can last as long as 16 years before you need to install a new one, it can develop some issues—such as frozen coils—that affect its ability to warm your home in the winter. Learn more about your frozen heat pump below.

Why Does Your Heat Pump Freeze Up?

It's normal for small amounts of frost to develop on your heat pump's coils during the cold season. However, if your heat pump freezes up repeatedly or stays frozen with hard ice, there could be a problem with the defrost system inside it.

During the cold season, your heat pump absorbs or pulls heat from the outdoor air and transport it into your home. If the air surrounding the heat pump contains water vapor, it can condense and freeze on the surface of the pump's coil. The coil will melt the frost by activating a special defrost switch inside the pump. If the defrost switch fails to activate or work properly, it won't melt the frost. The frost eventually turns into patches of ice that prevent your heat pump from turning on. 

A failing defrost switch is just one possible reason for your frozen heat pump. Your heat pump can have other problems that make it freeze up, including a damaged motor. You can diagnose your heat pump properly by having a heating contractor examine it.

What Can You Do About Your Frozen Heat Pump?

In order to diagnose your heat pump's problem properly, a heating contractor will need to run a full diagnostic test on the appliance. The test may include checking the pump's compressor and condenser coil for damage. The coil can ice up if the compressor isn't turning off and on properly. 

Additionally, a contractor may inspect the condition of your air duct system. If the ducts are blocked or in poor condition, they may not allow the pump to transport warm air into the home. In this case, a contractor may clean the air ducts to allow air to flow through them.

If there's nothing wrong with any of the parts above, you may simply need to replace your heat pump with a gas or electric furnace. Your heat pump may not have the strength or power to keep up with the freezing temperatures. 

You can learn more about your frozen heat pump and whether or not you need a heating system replacement by contacting an HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) contractor today.