What Effects Does Ice Have on Heating Your Home?

January 13, 2021

When it comes to ice effects during winter, you might think your heating system isn’t at risk. You might be wrong. Even though heating components inside a home produce enough heat to prevent direct ice accumulation in most cases, poor heating performance and even damage to certain components may still be attributed to certain ice effects in cold weather. Here are a couple of examples where ice formation can interfere with indoor comfort as well as system operation.

Heat Pumps

If your home utilizes a heat pump, ice can be a problem as outdoor temperatures drop. In heating mode, the outside evaporator coil extracts latent heat from outdoor air and conveys it indoors to the condenser coil that disperses warmth in the house. In frigid temperatures, it’s normal for outdoor evaporator coils to have an accumulation of light frost.

Sometimes, however, frost turns to a thick coat of ice that severely reduces heat extraction and may cause the heat pump to shut down entirely. When thick ice effects occur on outdoor heat pump coils, it’s usually due to a system issue such as:

  • An insufficient refrigerant charge caused by a leak in the system.
  • A mechanical failure of the automatic defrost function, which melts frost and ice off heat pump coils at regular intervals.

Both issues that trigger ice effects in heat pumps require professional HVAC service to diagnose and repair.

High-Efficiency Furnaces

A high-efficiency gas furnace extracts extra heat from condensation present in the hot system airflow. In cold weather, gallons of furnace condensation are drained outdoors daily through a pipe.

If condensate drainage in the pipe is too slow, however, ice may form at the outdoor end of the pipe and totally obstruct flow. Blocked condensate backing up into the furnace will trigger a safety sensor that shuts down the unit entirely.

A qualified furnace service technician can identify and resolve causes of obstructed condensate drainage, then reset the safety switch and restart the furnace.

Contact the professionals at Aggressive Mechanical Contractors for more information about ice effects on your heating system this winter.