Heat pumps are highly efficient and versatile HVAC systems. With the flick of a switch, they can change from a cooling device to a heating device (and vice versa). However, since these systems are used all year-round, they never get a break—and that can mean problems in both the cooling and heating season. Below are some of the potential problems heat pumps can encounter.
Ice on the Outdoor Unit in Winter
If your outdoor unit is encased in frost, this is normal… kind of. The heat pump’s outdoor unit is expected to take on some ice from time to time, and it will deal with that by initiating a defrost cycle. Defrosting will divert some of the warm air from in your home to helping melt the ice, so don’t be surprised if the air in your home blows cold for about 15 minutes. Any longer than that, however, and it might be too late.
If your heat pump freezes over before it can start defrosting, it can seriously impede the operation of the heat pump. At that point, your best bet is to turn off the unit and call up a professional air conditioning repair service in Irving, TX. Don’t try to pick off the ice by yourself, since that can cause damage to the coils.
Ice on the Indoor Unit in Summer
This isn’t at all the same as the problem just described, though it may sound similar. Ice and frost on your heat pump’s indoor unit most likely point to a serious issue with the unit.
In the best case scenario, it might be due to a clogged air filter. The blocked airflow may have decreased the temperature low enough to cause the evaporator coil to freeze over. In this case, all you need to do is let the unit thaw, replace the air filter, and try again. A dirty evaporator coil can create a similar set of symptoms, so make sure to check the condition of the coil after thawing it out.
If that’s not the issue, then it could be something much more serious, such as a refrigerant leak. For a heat pump, refrigerant is crucial—it’s the chemical blend that facilitates the transfer of heat, thus responsible for giving you cool and warm air. As more refrigerant leaks from the system, this process is compromised, and that can have profound effects on the heat pump. It can lead to reduced cooling and heating or complete compressor failure.
Cold Air Blowing in “Heating” Mode
If your heat pump is doing the opposite of what you need it to do, like blowing cold air in the middle of fall or winter, then check these things:
- Make sure it’s not on “cooling” mode by accident. We know it sounds obvious, but it’s often the thing you least suspect.
- That it’s not going through a defrost cycle, as explained above.
- Ensure that the thermostat is not malfunctioning or stuck on a cooling program.
If none of the above apply to your situation, you could be looking at a deeper problem. The previously mentioned refrigerant leak is a possibility, and so are compressor problems. If the unit is fairly new and already experiencing issues, it could be that the refrigerant was never charged properly in the first place.