The one thing that no homeowner wants to encounter during the winter months is a malfunctioning heat pump. In the wintertime, the heat pump transfers heat from the outside of your home into the inside. The lower the temperatures drop outside during the winter, the harder it becomes for your heat pump to continue normal operations. Here are seven common heat pump problems that you may experience during the winter.

Covered in Ice

It is normal for a light layer of ice or frost to appear on the coils of your heat pump during periods of normal operation. When this happens, the heat pump will de-ice itself with the defrost cycle. However, when the ice or frost extends beyond the outside of the coils and covers practically the entire unit and inside of the coils, it is time for you to be concerned. Leaving your heat pump covered in ice and frost for an extended period of time can result in damage to the unit.


Sometimes a heat pump may not be functioning due to a tripped circuit breaker or a blown fuse. Reset the fuses and circuits to the unit and then proceed to turn the unit on. If after checking and resetting the fuses and circuit breaker, the heat pump does not power on, you need to contact an HVAC professional to get to the root of the problem.

Blowing Cold Air

When your heat pump starts to blow cold air, there are a couple of things you can do to correct the situation. Check the thermostat to ensure that it is not set to the “cool” setting. Check the refrigerant levels in your pump and inspect the unit for refrigerant leaks. If the coolant levels are low or you notice a leak, you need to have your heat pump serviced as soon as possible. There may be a problem with the outdoor compressor or the coolant lines themselves.

Draining Problems

Improper drainage can cause a heat pump to freeze over and prevent it from working properly or even at all. Signs of draining problems include leaking and dripping. To enable your heat pump to drain properly to prevent freezing, make sure that the unit is placed on a sturdy surface. That surface should be high enough to prevent the unit from being submerged in snow, rain and other elements. Keep the coils dry and change the filters regularly.

Blocked Coils

Blocked coils can cause the heat pump to work harder, decrease airflow and cause condensation and moisture to collect around the coils. If you factor in the cold temperatures, the chances of your heat pump freezing significantly increases. Remember, your heat pump needs to have a sufficient amount of airflow to allow it to gather heat from the environment to heat the inside of your home. When the coils are blocked and airflow is compromised, the efficiency of the unit diminishes. Keep the area surrounding the outside of the coils clear to prevent problems with airflow and efficiency.

Weather Elements

Snow, freezing rain and ice can all interfere with your heat pump’s ability to function properly. These elements can prevent the fan in your heat pump from working, thereby rendering your unit useless. To get rid of any ice that has accumulated and blocked the fan, you can either wait for the ice to melt on its own or pour some warm water over the unit. If those methods do not work, contact your HVAC service to fix the problem. Never attempt to remove any ice from your heat pump with force, such as with an ice pick, hammer or shovel. Check to ensure that the unit is located where it won’t be affected by any runoff from your roof or gutters.

Time for Replacement

Sometimes even with regular maintenance and care, a heat pump can still malfunction. If you notice that your heat pump is needing service more often, it may be time for you to replace it. It is recommended for homeowners to replace their heat pump every 10 years to ensure maximum comfort throughout the year. Replacing your old unit with a new and more energy efficient heat pump can save you more money on your energy bills.

Although some issues regarding the heat pump can be resolved without professional help, it is highly recommended for you to have an HVAC professional come out to inspect your heat pump to prevent further problems. Failure to get any issues resolved within a timely manner can result in high utility bills, a reduction in comfort and higher repair bills. Call your friends at Green Apple Mechanical at 888-611-7191

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