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We Serve the Greater Vancouver Area



How Your Heat Pump is Affected by Cold Weather

Winter-HomeWe’ve got a fair amount of cold weather left in the season before the days start to warm up, which means you’re probably still using your heater on a regular basis.

If you have a heat pump installed in your home, there are a couple of different things that you should know about how the system operates in cold weather. If you’re lucky, you won’t have to deal with any of these issues. Still, it’s a good idea to know about them, so you can act quickly in-case one of them happens.

Ice Buildup

When a heat pump is in heating mode, it evaporates refrigerant in its outdoor coil to absorb thermal energy from the air around it. This causes two things to happen: condensation forms on the coil, and the temperature around the coil drops. If this causes the temperature to drop below freezing, the condensate will form ice on the coil.

Heat pump manufacturers are well aware that this can happen, and so most heat pumps are designed with a defrost cycle. The system will switch to venting heat every once in a while, in order to melt any ice that has built up on the coil. If the defrost cycle malfunctions, though, the system will start to have problems.

Ice buildup on the coil will start to deprive the system of access to the air around it, which it needs to heat the home. The more the coil becomes covered in ice, the less heat the system will be able to provide. If the coil becomes entirely encased in ice, it could break down entirely. If you’re using your heat pump on an especially cold day, you should check on the outdoor coil to make sure it’s not covered in ice. If the coil looks like it’s not getting rid of the ice buildup effectively, you should have a professional examine it to make sure that it’s functioning properly.

Loss of Heating Efficiency

Heat pumps don’t burn fuel for heat, which is both a good and bad thing. The bad thing about it is that the system relies entirely on thermal energy in the air outside the home when it’s in heating mode. The lower the temperature outside drops, the less thermal energy is available for the system to use.

This means that even if the coil isn’t having problems with things like icing over, you might notice it start to falter a bit in terms of heating output when the days are especially cold. Now, for most people this drop is not that big of a deal compared to the advantages they get from their heat pump. Still, it is something to be aware of.

Area Heating & Cooling, Inc. provides comprehensive heat pump services in Vancouver, WA. If you need heat pump services, let us help you out. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our expert technicians. We’ll make sure that your heat pump is in top condition.

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