What Causes a Heat Pump to Freeze Up?

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A heat pump is a device that transfers heat from one area to another. It can be used to heat an area or cool a different area. Over time, a heat pump can become worn out or stop working so effectively.

What Causes a Heat Pump to Freeze Up?
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What Is a Heat Pump?

A heat pump implies warmth, but can also be used as a cooling device. In a refrigerator, a heat pump works to displace heat and keep the area cool. The refrigerant must move through the coils of the heat pump. However, there are a number of factors that can affect this movement. If the movement of a heat pump is compromised, it won't work as effectively as it should.

What Can Cause A Heat Pump to Freeze?

There are a number of factors that cause problems with a heat pump. Figuring out why your heat pump is frozen is key to getting your device fixed.

Level Of Refrigerant

The level of refrigerant in your heat pump is what allows the heat to be transferred. In summer, the heat pump moves to heat outside, while in the winter, the heat pump moves the heat inside. Without adequate refrigerant, this can't happen. The refrigerant in a heat pump should circulate without being used up. If the level is too low, it's likely because of a leak. You will probably need a certified technician to check for leaks, repair any leaks and refill the heat pump with refrigerant.

Ice on Your Heat Pump

In freezing cold and wet weather, ice can build up on your heat pump. This isolates sections of the coil and prevents the refrigerant moving through the pump properly. Although heat pumps are generally fitted with ice inhibitors to prevent this from happening, older heat pumps may not be adequately equipped to deal with ice. Dirt can also be a problematic factor in terms of ice on a heat pump. If dirty water is continually dripping onto a heat pump, it can cause ice formation.

Problems With Placement For A Heat Pump That Is Freezing Up

Whether your heat pump is freezing up in winter or your heat pump is freezing up in hot weather, there are things you can do to fix it.

If there is visible ice on your heat pump, check to see if there is nothing directly dripping on to it. Make sure gutters above are not leaking, and clean off any dirt on your heat pump with a garden hose. You may also want to build a protective cover over your heat pump to prevent a buildup of dirty water.

Another key factor in the efficacy of your heat pump is its placement. You want it in a fairly sheltered area, where it isn't too exposed to the elements. However, you do need it to be well-ventilated to prevent the outgoing air being drawn back into the pump. You also want your pump to be elevated enough that it can effectively drain.

Issues With Components Of A Heat Pump

You also want to check for blockages in the filters of your heat pump. You may need to replace your filters if they're old or particularly clogged. Cleaning out your filters can help improve the efficacy of your heat pump and prevent it freezing up.

You should also check that the fan of your heat pump is adequately sized for the job. If your fan isn't big enough to allow for adequate airflow, then it can cause your heat pump to freeze. The air ducts must also be big enough to allow the air to move through the heat pump.

If you've tried all of these things and your heat pump still isn't working properly, you may need to contact a technician. They'll be able to recharge your heat pump with refrigerant and check for leaks in order to get your heat pump working at its highest level again.


Annie Walton Doyle is a freelance writer based in Manchester, UK. Her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Daily Telegraph, Professional Photography Magazine, Bustle, Ravishly and more. When not writing, she enjoys pubs, knitting, nature and mysteries.

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