The Big Freeze



So you may have wandered out to your unit during a cold day and noticed that strangely enough ice has gathered on your unit. Some people this sets the trigger to panic because it is ALWAYS during the time where the heating and air conditioning guys are closed. What great timing right? Others can be more casual about it, grabbing the hair dryer and going to work or even the water hose and trying to figure out how to connect it to the water heater. Some people keep it calm and call. No matter which of these categories you fall into, we understand stand. And we hope to shed some light on the subject of ice accumulation on your unit and also, when it is too much.


Some may not know that a heat pump is not only a mechanical device to bring heat into the house by heating the air blown across a heated coil. It is actually a device to remove cold air that is in the air and take it outside. It does this through a series of controls, valves and pipes. Doing this results in the outdoor unit in the house becoming extremely cold. Sometimes this will cause the unit to frost. Notice the word FROST. Frost is a light accumulation of ice on the outdoor unit. Your heat pump is designed to withstand this ice frost and it is actually normal. You may see it in rows on you unit. The heat pump has a sensor inside of it call a defrost sensor and once that sensor reaches a freezing point it will activate the defrost cycle thus causing your unit to seem like its acting funny. The outdoor fan usually turns off or slows down, the reversing valve shifts and it sounds like your unit is about to take off if you are standing close enough to it. Once it’s all over it can sometimes release what looks like smoke. That is actually steam and it is cause because your unit has worked together with all of its sensors to heat itself and thaw the outdoor unit. Kinda smart huh?


So when is it too much ice? This question is variable. Since all units are built differently with sensors in different places, it is hard to say just how much ice is normal but as a rule of thumb if your unit develops a sheet of ice around normally this would be around an eighth of an inch it and it isn’t snowing or sleeting outside, then that is too much.

Are you having problems with ice on your outdoor unit? Give us a call at (252) 633-2744 or Click Here to schedule a service call and we can help!



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