Heat Pump Freezing Up? Some Possible Solutions
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Heat Pump Freezing Up? Some Possible Solutions


Do you have problems with your heat pump freezing up in cold weather? While the presence of a light layer of ice on the unit during our cold Portland winter weather is fairly normal, heat pumps do sometimes freeze up. Typically, the periodic defrost cycle keeps the unit sufficiently ice-free to maintain proper functioning. Nevertheless, when the unit freezes for an extended period of time, the freezing issue should be addressed. Be sure to turn your thermostat to the emergency heat position and use an alternative heat source to avoid running the unit while it’s frozen. It won’t do you any good anyway, until it’s fixed.

Heat pump freezing may be caused by technical issues such as a defective defrost control or timer; however, the following are four common causes of freezing:

  • Inadequate airflow across the coils due to ice or natural debris prevents the unit from proper functioning
  • Fan blockage from ice buildup or roof drainage causes the fan to stop
  • Freezing rain on top of the unit causes the whole unit to freeze over
  • The platform or concrete slab supporting the unit has become uneven or sunken, leaving no natural drainage route for ice to melt off

It’s critical that these items be addressed as soon as possible to avoid serious damage to the unit. Once you start troubleshooting, you may find that blocked airflow or a blocked fan problem caused by ice buildup or roof drainage are problems that you as the homeowner can solve. When a frozen heat pump is caused by a refrigerant problem or a defective control or fan motor, however, it’s time to contact a professional heating, ventilation and air conditioning company.

Unfortunately, the heat pump freezes when you need it the most – during those cold weather months here in Portland. If your unit is freezing up and you have been unsuccessful at solving the problem, contact Roth Heating and Cooling. With more than 35 years serving satisfied customers in the Portland area, Roth Heating and Cooling is available to perform regular heat pump maintenance, or the occasional emergency service call, if needed.

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