Common Issues For A Heat Pump In Winter

frozen heat pump in winter

Heat pumps offer a contemporary solution to heating, differing from conventional furnaces by using electricity instead of combustible fuels. They operate without flames and function similarly to air conditioners, but in reverse, during winter. By absorbing heat from the outside air and transferring it indoors, they efficiently warm your home, eventually eliminating the need for extra layers. Their growing popularity among homeowners stems from their energy efficiency and dependability. Nonetheless, like any heating system, a heat pump in winter can face issues.

This article will help you understand potential heat pump problems and their solutions, and when it might be time to consult a professional HVAC contractor for advice and service.

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Common Winter Challenges for Heat Pump Users

Consider the typical winter conditions in your region. Some areas experience mild winters, hardly necessitating heating, while others endure heavy snowfall, demanding robust heating solutions. Many areas fall somewhere in between, where winters are manageable with appropriate heating equipment.

Heat pumps are ideal for regions with mild to moderate temperature fluctuations and can efficiently provide comfort all year round. If your heat pump is underperforming or facing issues, it’s best to contact a specialist for a thorough assessment. Keep reading to explore the most frequently encountered heat pump issues during winter.

Insufficient Heat From Heat Pump

image of a homeowner feeling chilly due to heat pump issues in winter

While furnaces excel in generating high heat for extreme winters, heat pumps operate differently, providing less intense but more evenly distributed heat. This might surprise new users, yet it’s a typical characteristic of these systems. Heat pumps excel in maintaining a consistent temperature throughout your home, offering prolonged and steady heat delivery. On particularly cold days, you might find the need for additional heat sources like a space heater to complement your heat pump’s performance.

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Dealing with Ice on the Outdoor Heat Pump Unit

image of snow-covered heat pump in winter

It’s normal for outdoor heat pump units to feel cold, but they shouldn’t be covered in ice. Regular visual checks are essential. If you notice ice formation, prompt action is necessary to avoid airflow blockage and potential damage. While a thin ice layer might thaw independently, thicker ice accumulation might require activating the unit’s defrost mode, which typically resolves the issue within a quarter of an hour. During defrost cycles, using an alternative heat source is advisable. Persistent freezing issues should be addressed by a professional technician for a lasting fix.

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Continuous Operation of the Heat Pump

Heat pumps usually operate in cycles, shutting off once the set temperature is achieved and resuming as needed. Continuous operation could indicate an inability to reach the set temperature, possibly due to cold air drafts. Ensuring all doors and windows are sealed and improving insulation in walls and attics can help. If the issue persists, a professional evaluation may be necessary to identify and remedy the cause, offering solutions tailored to your specific needs and budget.

Addressing Heat Pump Drip Issues

Like air conditioners, heat pumps can experience internal moisture buildup, typically from condensation. This water should drain away smoothly, but if you notice dripping, it indicates a drainage problem. External factors like heavy snow or rain, or an uneven surface causing the unit to tilt, can disrupt proper drainage. Check for and rectify any such environmental issues or level out the unit’s surface for proper water flow.

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Experiencing Cold Air from HVAC Vents

Feeling cold air instead of warm from your vents is a sign of an issue in your heating system. This could be due to blocked air pathways, so ensure all vents and registers are open. Another possibility is that the heat pump is in defrost mode; if so, normal operation should resume shortly after the cycle completes. Persistent cold air, however, suggests a deeper problem that likely requires professional attention.

Troubleshooting a Nonfunctional Heat Pump

ductless repairs

Heat pumps should function continuously, but if yours unexpectedly shuts off, check if it was manually turned off for energy savings or inspect the plug and breaker for power issues. For older units, component failure could be the cause. In such cases, a technician’s inspection is necessary to diagnose and resolve the specific issue.


Knowledge is key to peace of mind. Being aware of common heat pump problems enables you to prevent or swiftly address them. Even in situations where professional intervention is needed, understanding these issues allows you to provide valuable insights to your trusted HVAC technicians, aiding in efficient troubleshooting. This informed approach ensures a quicker restoration of your home’s comfort for you and your family.

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Reach Out to Townsend Energy for Your HVAC Needs

In search of trustworthy heating and cooling solutions within Northeastern Massachusetts, Southern New Hampshire, and Maine? Townsend Energy is your go-to destination. Our professionally certified technicians excel in HVAC upkeep, repair, installation, and replacement. We’re committed to delivering exemplary service that is a testament to our dedication. As the area’s premier HVAC service provider, we are here to serve you!

At Townsend Energy, we prioritize providing cost-effective heating and cooling services without compromising quality. Our maintenance offerings aim to enhance comfort and energy efficiency, ultimately reducing your property’s heating and cooling expenditures. We’re dedicated to proposing the most fitting HVAC solution for your residence or enterprise while adhering to your budget constraints. Moreover, every service we render is supported by our commitment to your satisfaction.

Book a service appointment with Townsend Energy today. Reach out to us now and discover the blend of top-tier service and affordability that defines us!

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