heat pump freezing up | Myrtle Beach HVAC

Is My Heat Pump Freezing Up?

Hey out there, Myrtle Beach! Cool Cat swinging by to answer one of your pressing questions! When it’s cold and you see your heat pump giving off what looks like smoke, it’s totally normal to wonder if your heat pump is freezing up. Don’t worry, Cool Cat is here with the 411 you need on this heat pump activity.


Heat Pump Smoke?

If you see smoke that looks white or light gray coming from around the outdoor unit of your heat pump, it’s likely normal. Why does this happen? The way heat pumps work is part of the reason. When your heat pump is working to pull heat from the air outside, the outside coil has to be colder than the surrounding air – sometimes as much as 20 degrees colder. When the usual moisture and humidity in our air encounters this much colder heat pump coil, it causes condensation to form and freeze on the coil. Your heat pump deals with this by running a warm defrost cycle periodically. The defrost cycle melts this frozen condensation off of the coil and some of it returns to the air as water vapor – this is the “smoke” you see. If you have ever paid attention to the “smoke” caused by your breath when you’re outside in the cold, it’s basically the same thing.

The good news is that seeing this means your heat pump is working as it should to keep excessive ice from building up on the coils of your outdoor unit. It’s when you have a major ice storm or freezing rain and don’t see this smoke periodically that you want to bundle up and run out to check out your heat pump!


When Your Heat Pump Needs Help

Some types of weather or conditions can be too much for your heat pump to deal with during its normal defrost cycle. Around our area, this could be during an ice storm or freezing rain conditions. The sheer amount of ice building up on the coils during these types of weather events can be too much for your heat pump to handle. In the rare case of snow build up around the heat pump, use a snow brush to clear it off the unit and brush away any other debris as well. In most cases, when you need to intervene and help your heat pump, you’ll need some warm water or a garden hose to gently melt excess ice off the unit and allow the defrost cycle to work properly again.

Now, remember that your heat pump is your friend and not an enemy. Don’t go stabbing at it to break up built-up ice with an ice pick or other sharp implement. You risk damaging the unit and causing a much bigger problem.

Don’t forget that Carolina Cool is available 24/7 if you have a heat pump issue you can’t solve.  We’ve got experts available whenever you need them to make sure you aren’t left out in the cold when it comes to your heat pump. That’s cool!