Normally, some ice forms around your coils when your heat pump is in operation because the coils freeze up so as to cool the refrigerant. This is a problem commonly experienced by homeowners who have air source heat pumps. Despite the fact that these heat pumps offer one of the best performances and efficiency in heating homes especially when the temperatures are above the freezing range, ice tends to form on these coils as part of the process. Whenever too much of ice accumulates on your coils, they put your system at risk of damage and it can raise energy costs also.
Why Heat Pump Coils Freeze
During operation, the heat pump generates heat which is taken by the refrigerant to the outdoor coil. In order to do this, the refrigerant changes into a gaseous form. On reaching the outdoor coil, the gaseous refrigerant condenses and releases moisture. Heat pumps are normally equipped with a defrost component which normally addresses the icing problem because it melts it as it forms.
However, in cases where the heat pump malfunctions because of one reason or the other, the ice may start building on the coil. The problem with this ice buildup is that it acts as an insulation and further compounds the problem causing ice to form over and over again. Normally, the defrost sensor usually notices the buildup of ice and starts defrosting the coils. But at times due to system malfunction, the sensor doesn’t act as expected.
Causes of Freezing Coils
There are a number of problems that can cause coils to freeze. Amongst them are:
• A dirty air filter
• Failing blower motor
• Buildup of dirt inside the blower fan blades
• Faulty components within the heat pump such as damaged sensors and metering devices for the refrigerant
How to Detect Frozen Coils and What To Do
It is pretty much easier to detect frozen coils because all you need is to inspect your system from time to time. This is why it is very important especially in winter for heat pump owners to ensure their units are inspected. Whenever you see ice building up on the coils, you should:
• Switch the unit to the backup heating element or turn it off altogether
• Remove the ice from the coils gently but do not use sharp tools
• Slowly pour warm water over the coils so as to melt the ice
These steps will ensure that your heating system is always free of ice and as such operates at optimal efficiency. However, if you notice any other problem that looks strange or that you can’t solve, notify a qualified HVAC expert to help you.