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If you’re using a heat pump to keep warm during the winter, you may notice ice starting to build up on the outside part of the system. If you see this, don’t panic. It isn’t necessarily a problem, and can actually be expected when the weather gets cold enough. It may seem unusual in a place like Florida, but there’s a specific reason that ice may form on your heat pump even when the temperature is above freezing. Let’s take a look at why heat pump ice occurs, and when it’s a problem.

Ice Formation

When a heat pump is in heating mode, it evaporates refrigerant in order to absorb heat from the surrounding air. Two things happen when the heat pump does this. First, the temperature around the heat pump drops as heat is drawn out of it. Second, condensation forms on the heat pump coil as the air is cooled past the dew point. If the temperature around the heat pump drops below freezing, then the condensate will freeze and form ice. This ice formation will continue as long as the heat pump is operating.

When to Call for Repairs

Normally, ice on the heat pump is not a problem because the system uses a defrost cycle to melt it off. At regular intervals, the system will reverse the flow of refrigerant to heat up the coil and get rid of the ice. If the defrost cycle malfunctions, however, your system may be in danger of further issues. Ice buildup cuts off the heat pump’s access to the surrounding air, preventing it from siphoning heat from your home. Eventually, the ice can build up so much that it warps the coil itself. If you see your heat pump more than half-covered in ice, you should call for repairs.

If you think your heat pump needs repair, call Cliffs Air Conditioning and Heating, Inc. We serve all of Port Charlotte, FL.