Wondering How a Heat Pump Could Be So Frosty? Here’s Why It Happens and When to Worry

December 29, 2014
Ross and Witmer

Seeing a frosty heat pump can be alarming, but some frost is a normal occurrence. Recognizing when a frosty heat pump is a problem can ensure that you contact a technician and keep your heat pump from becoming damaged when the temperature plunges.

Why It Happens

The first step in determining whether a frosty heat pump is a problem is understanding why it happens. The refrigerant that’s contained in the heat pump is cooler than the outside air. It’s possible for the temperature in the heat pump to fall below the dew point. Temperatures must also be below freezing, and the humidity outside will determine whether there’s enough moisture in the air that can condense.

While frost is normal, the heat pump should have a defrost setting that automatically kicks on throughout the winter. If this setting isn’t initiated, you may notice a heavy buildup of frost that can be cause for concern.

Should You Be Worried?

Now that you understand why a heat pump can ice over, you can determine whether your pump is in danger. While a thin frost is normal, it’s not normal for the entire heat pump to be completely encased in ice. If this happens, the defrost setting isn’t working properly.

You should monitor the heat pump to see if the frost is melting after a few days. If you notice that the frost is just building up, you should be concerned. It’s recommended that you review the defrost controls on the pump to determine whether you can get them to turn back on without the help of a technician.

However, the defrost setting on the heat pump could cause problems when it comes to your utility bills. While you want to ensure no damage is being done to the pump, you don’t want the setting to come on when it’s not necessary. The defrost setting forces your heating system to use backup heat sources and consume more energy.

If you’re dealing with a frosty heat pump or other home comfort problems in your Charlotte home, contact Ross & Witmer. We’re here to help!

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