Winter Heat Pump Care

A heat pump attached to a house that has been frozen over. A ground mounted heat pump with frozen coils A ground mounted heat pump with snow removed from around the unitBy Jody Howe
Senior Energy Specialist

We have experienced a record snowfall in past winters, which can easily bury a ground mounted heat pump. The more humid the air the more moisture it can hold, the more condensation occurring on the outdoor coil (part of the system outside the house). At temperatures at or below freezing this condensation can freeze on the coil reducing air flow through the coil and heat transfer to the refrigerate.

Lower outside temperatures result in a higher heating demand for inside your home, which makes your heat pump run for longer periods of time both day and night.  Whether you have a ductless heat pump (mini split) or traditional ducted heat pump, they both may now need your attention.  Clear the snow from the top of the unit and at least one foot around the perimeter. If snow from a roof or overhang is dripping onto heat pump help divert it if possible. Avoid anything that may block air flow in front, behind or on top of unit. Outside units need this air space to do their job correctly.

Defrost cycles prevent freeze up.  This is an operation in which the heat pump reverses and uses energy to melt the frost off the coils. Heat Pump defrost cycles can create water under the units. Your system may benefit from creating some drainage (shovel width) channels to help move water away from units and reduce ice buildup.

Something you don’t want to wait for is ice buildup.