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Ice Buildup Can Indicate A Frozen Heat Pump Unit

The outdoor unit of your heat pump is vulnerable to wear and tear, especially because it sits outside. As a result, in the wintertime, your system's defrost termination switch or control board can fail and your unit will freeze. Your unit cannot function properly if ice buildup occurs, and you'll need to have it inspected and repaired.

Why Is My Heat Pump Unit Freezing?

To work, a heat pump system generates heat and leaves behind condensation. In the wintertime, this condensation freezes in the cold air. If any of the following issues are at play, the system will be unable to handle the freeze, and the ice buildup will become a real problem: a worn, damaged, failed defrost termination switch or defrost control board.

How To Check For A Frozen Heat Pump

  • You'll know if your heat pump is frozen by examining the outdoor unit for ice. Look at the lines in and out of the unit. A little bit of frost and ice on the outdoor coils is normal. A blanked of ice covering the unit is not.

  • While ice tends to build up on the lines outside of the unit, it's possible for ice to form inside the conender as well. Turn off the power to the unit before checking inside. You can turn off the power by flipping the breaker that powers your condenser or by shutting it off at the electrical disconnect near the outdoor unit.

    Once the unit is off, remove the door panel. Take a close look for any ice build up. If your unit has been off for a while, look for large amount of water inside the unit that may have been ice.

    CAUTION: Make sure to turn off power to the condenser before removing any panels. Once the power has been shut off, let anyone else in the home know not to turn it back on until you're done.

  • It may sound silly, but make sure there's no water overflowing from gutters and pouring onto the outside unit. The source of water may not be coming from the heat pump itself, which would point to a different issue.

  • Check that the unit’s air filter is clean and that the indoor air vents aren't blocked by furniture or other objects. Once the inside areas are clear, remove any debris around the outside unit like leaves, sticks, snow, or dirt that could be blocking air or the outdoor coil. Restricted airflow can cause the heat pump to freeze over.

Other issues

If a frozen heat pump doesn't seem to be the problem, consider other reasons why your home can't keep up with the temperature on the thermostat.

What To Do If You Have A Frozen Heat Pump Outdoor Unit?

Depending on the severity of the freeze, a technician will clear out the ice buildup and inspect suspect parts of the unit, including air filters, fan fins, and thermostat settings to ensure they are all normal.

NOTE: This content is for informational purposes only, and HomeX and its affiliates disclaim all liability related to it. If you decide to perform any tasks based on this information, you assume all risks, including the risk of loss or damage to property or personal injury.

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