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Does Your Home Have a Frost-Covered Heat Pump? We Can Explain

heat pump in snow

Though it’s often not a big concern, sometimes a frosty heat pump can prove to be more trouble for Savannah homeowners. Too much frost can be a bad thing, as it reduces overall heating efficiency. Here’s what you should know the next time you see frost forming on a heat pump system.

What’s Normal and What’s Not

Seeing a slightly frosty heat pump isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s quite normal. As the outdoor coils work to extract latent heat from outside air, it causes the water vapor to condense into liquid form. Since the refrigerant within the coils is up to 20 degrees colder than the surrounding air, it’s no surprise to see frost form as the condensed water freezes.

What’s not normal is seeing the heat pump encased in a gigantic coating of frost, or worse, a solid sheet of ice.

Understanding the Causes

A frosty heat pump has plenty of potential causes, some of them relatively minor fixes and others major enough to warrant an expensive repair bill. These include:

  • Low refrigerant levels
  • Faulty defrost relay, thermostat or sensor
  • Faulty reversing valve and valve solenoid
  • Damaged or worn outdoor fan motor
  • Blockages caused by debris accumulation
  • Faulty or unreliable defrost controls

All of these issues can be remedied by an NATE-certified technician.

What You Can Do About It

If you see ice build up on a frosty heat pump, simply turn the unit off and carefully thaw it with a garden hose and running water. Afterward, take the following preventive measures:

  • Clear leaves, snow drift and debris away from the bottom of the outdoor unit.
  • Make sure the unit is raised off the ground, preferably on a concrete pad or platform.
  • Make sure gutters aren’t leaking onto the unit.
  • Clean the outdoor coils of snow drift and debris.

Tired of dealing with a frosty heat pump? Contact the pros at McDevitt Air for professional help. We can handle all of the heating and air conditioning needs for homeowners in Savannah and surrounding communities.

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