In Canada, we all have come to learn and expect preparations for the cold weather. For heat pumps, this causes different issues entirely - heat pumps do normally deice themselves, but when the weather gets harsh, and even that isn't enough to shake the ice, you can be met with a situation where it causes damage to your heat pump unit.
We'll go over some of the most common winter problems, how to prevent them, and when to call a heat pump technician to give you a hand.
Condensation On The Outdoor Unit
If your unit is deicing itself regularly, the draining tray is likely too clogged to allow the water to escape along with the ice. You will notice a buildup of ice on the outdoor unit, which will then cause it to become overfilled with water and set off an alarm. It's a simple process to fix this yourself - use a garden hose to spray the water out of the tray and into the lawn.
This common problem can easily be avoided by using a garden hose or an extended drain spout to ensure that water flows freely away from your unit. You won't have to worry about water damage or faulty equipment. It's essential to do this if you live in an area with heavy snowfall - snow can quickly build up and block water flow.
Freezing Piping and Ductwork
Just like with indoor units, when the outdoor unit is exposed to cold temperatures, its piping can freeze. This can happen when there is a drop in temperature but not a drop in humidity, causing the water in the line to freeze. When this happens, you will likely hear a loud noise as the pipe bursts.
You can do two things to avoid this - first, use anti-freeze spray outside the line, and second, install a thermostatic expansion valve. The thermostatic expansion valve will open as soon as the line begins to freeze, allowing air to flow in and preventing the pipe from bursting.
Coil Lines Freeze
They can freeze when there is significant water in the coil lines. This is particularly common in the lines that go to the outdoor unit. The best way to avoid this is to ensure that the coils are completely dry before closing your house. To do this, allow the unit to run while the house is open, or if you know, you'll be closing up early, open the house up and let it run a little longer.
If your unit isn't running, the coil lines are likely blocked. This can be remedied by checking for the cause of the blockage and clearing it out. If the lines are entirely frozen, you will likely need to replace the outdoor unit.
If the outside unit's condenser freezes, the outdoor unit will stop working. It can't make any heat if its external parts are frozen. If the indoor unit freezes, the indoor fan won't be able to turn. This can cause the indoor coils to freeze.
What you can do to prevent it? The best way to prevent a freeze-over is to keep the outdoor unit's temperature below the freezing point. You can use a deicing comb or deicer spray for the outdoor unit. Another way is to keep the condenser warm enough by insulating the outdoor unit. You can put insulation on the outdoor unit or keep the unit out of the wind. A third way to prevent a freeze-over is to keep the outdoor unit warm with a heating pad or an outdoor heater.
Heat Pump Defrost Problems
A defrost problem occurs when the unit can't recognize when the frost has formed on the evaporator. This happens when the defrost sensor has become clogged with ice and needs to be replaced. This can be fixed by cleaning the sensor and preventing future frost buildup.
If you are experiencing a defrost problem, the sensor is likely clogged with ice, which can be easily fixed by removing the ice and ensuring that the sensor is completely dry before you close up your house for the winter. If you notice a defrost problem, it is best to have a technician come and check it out, as it is a bit trickier than the issues we've been looking at today.
Heat Pump Dampness
There are different ways that humidity can work its way into your heat pump. First, if you have a frozen coil, it is worth noting that you should keep it from thawing out too much to prevent further damage. Sometimes, there is so much frost on your heat pump it takes a long time to melt off, which can drain your unit while it waits. Also, if your unit is in a wet environment, you may have to worry about mold or mildew building up in the ducts.
The best way to prevent this is to keep your outdoor unit clear of vegetation and clean your ducts with a good cleaning service. If you live in a humid place, it's best to clean the unit once a month. If you live where it is dry, you can clean it every couple of months.
When temperatures drop below freezing, some pretty serious issues can happen to your heat pump. Luckily, most of those issues can be prevented by monitoring the outdoor unit, the piping, and the ductwork. Whether you have a gas or an electric heat pump, winter can be difficult for your system. That's why it's important to periodically check your outdoor unit, piping, and ductwork to ensure everything is okay. That way, you'll be able to prevent serious damage and keep yourself warm.
Be sure to service your heat pump regularly and keep the coils free of debris to ensure it runs smoothly through the cold season. If you notice any issues with your system, be sure to call a technician as soon as possible to prevent costly damage.