Winter Heat Pump Operation

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Winter Heat Pump Operation

What to know about your heat pump

Your heat pump is a device that uses small amounts of energy to move heat from one location to another. Not rocket science, right? Heat pumps are typically used to pull heat out of the air or ground to heat your home or office, but they can also be reversed to cool a building the same way.

Heat Pumps work best in moderate climates, so if you don’t experience extreme heat and cold in your area, then using a heat pump instead of a furnace and air conditioner could save hard earned dollars off your energy bills.

Basic Winter Heat Pump Operation

winter heat pump

What about a smoking heat pump? Your heat pump isn’t actually smoking. It’s steaming. When it gets below freezing outside, a layer of ice can build up on the outside of the heat pump unit. This is perfectly normal. Heat pumps do ice up in winter. It is normal for the entire coil to be covered in a white frost or even light ice during certain weather conditions. Heat pumps will naturally ice up in winter but will periodically go into a defrost cycle to defrost the coils. This keeps the unit running efficiently.

However, in order to keep operating effectively, the heat pump must defrost this layer of ice. This is when the “smoking” takes place. Remember though, it’s not actually smoke coming off your outdoor unit. It’s simply the steam from the defrost cycle of the heat pump.

  • When its cold outside, Below 40 degrees, the heat pump will go into a defrost cycle approximately one time every hour.
  • Reversing valve shifts and reverses outdoor hot refrigerant to outdoor coil to melt frost. This should happen for no more than ten minutes.
  • Cold air will blow into home for approximately 5 minutes while defrosting.
  • The outdoor fan will stop, heat strips will turn on when in the defrost mode.
  • The heat pump will go back to heat after approximately 10 minutes

Common Reasons for your Heat Pump to freeze up

  • Below 40 degrees
  • Lack of airflow
  • Dirty Air Filters
  • Low on refrigerant
  • Leak on refrigerant line
  • Clogged or dirty indoor coil

Making sure that your heat pump is properly operating is important in maintaining your home comfort levels. If you need inspection, repair or installation of any component of your system from the outside condensing unit and the refrigerant lines, to your air handler: Need HVAC service? Call us! (916) 577-5020

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