How To Keep Your Heat Pump From Freezing Up In Summer

frozen heat pump in summer

The heat pump is an important piece of equipment for both heating and cooling. It keeps you cool when summer temperatures run high and keeps you warm when the winter cold blows in. Just remember: A heat pump is a machine, and like other machines, it may experience an issue at some point or another. One typical issue is a heat pump freezing up in summer. You might be surprised at how many homeowners call us because of freezing heat pumps. If you are experiencing this type of problem with your heat pump or just want to prevent it from experiencing avoidable issues in the first place, here are a few things you should know.

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Everything You Should Know About A Freezing Heat Pump

When you discover that your heat pump is frozen, you may be tempted to panic. Don’t worry! The problem is not as bad as it seems. There are a few reasons your heat pump may be freezing up, and you can learn about each of them right here.

How The Heat Pump Functions

heat pump refrigeration cycle

First of all, a heat pump does not just pump heat to keep it warm in the winter season. This piece of equipment regulates the temperature of your entire house throughout the year. In the winter, the heat pump pumps heat into and throughout your home. In the summer, it pumps heat from inside your home to the outside. The function varies according to the change of seasons.

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How To Tell If Your Heat Pump Has Frozen

So now you know that heat pumps can freeze, but how can you know if a frozen heat pump is the problem? There are simple clues you can follow. Here are a few of them:

1. Your Heat Pump System Stops Cooling

image of homeowner feeling hot and sticky due to high humidity levels indoors

There are several reasons for a lack of cooling, and a frozen heat pump is one of them. If the heat pump isn’t working, freezing is possibly the reason.

2. Frost & Ice Builds Up On the Heat Pump

If you find frost or ice on the outside HVAC unit during the warm days of summer, it is likely that the coils have frozen. They must be thawed out before you continue to use your system.

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3. Water Is Dripping From The Outside Heat Pump Unit

When water starts leaking out of the heat pump’s compressor, the most probable reason is that the coils have frozen up and your unit is thawing out.

Is your cooling system failing to cool your home? Try going outside and checking the unit for ice, frost, or water leakage. While you are investigating, look for any debris that may be stuck inside the coils as well, as this can also be an issue.

The Causes Of a Frozen Heat Pump

If your heat pump keeps freezing up, it is important to understand why it continues to do so so you can keep the issue from reoccurring. However, sometimes mother nature is the reason and there may be nothing you can do.

High Summer Heat

image of a homeowner experiencing a heat pump not cooling

When temperatures are soaring, it can become more difficult for your heat pump to do its job. If temperatures are over 100 degrees, the system will try but may be unable to keep cooling.

High Humidity In The Air

When the dew point is high along with high temperatures, humidity can be as big a problem for your heat pump as the temps. Humidity makes the heat pump work harder to cool your home, but moisture gathers on the coils and freezes.

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Open Windows & Doors

When your heat pump is working to cool your home, open doors and windows make it harder for your HVAC system to do its job. This is due to heat coming in and making your unit stay on in the effort to cool down the air. Over time, continuous running can cause freezing and damage to your HVAC system.

The Thermostat On The Heat Pump is Set Too Low

homeowner adjusting thermostat for heat pump system

If you or another member of your household has set the thermostat at too low of a temperature, the unit will keep trying and failing to reach that setting. The constant running at low temps can cause freezing coils.

The Thermostat is Broken

If your thermostat is broken, the unit’s heat pump will react to it and work to accommodate the messed-up temperature settings. Frozen coils may result.

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There Is A Problem With Refrigerant Levels

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Refrigerant makes the cooling system work, and if there is an issue with your refrigerant, it will affect the entire system. Low refrigerant levels can cause the heat pump to freeze. Even more importantly, if the levels are low due to leakage, you have another problem on your hands. Refrigerants are dangerous and even deadly to humans and animals. You may experience problems with your skin and eyes. Exposure can even cause death. Never try to clean up the problem on your own. Instead, ask certified HVAC technicians for assistance.

The Heat Pump’s Coil Is Dirty

The evaporator coil is where the AC refrigerant is held. The refrigerant is supposed to absorb heated air and cool it down. When the coils are dirty, the refrigerant cannot do its job properly.

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There Is A Problem With The Compressor

It is the heat pump’s compressor that moves the refrigerant. If the compressor does not work as it is supposed to, the heat pump will not be able to keep your home cool and comfortable, and it may freeze.

Improper Airflow In Your HVAC System

image of a heat pump filter that is dirty

For a heat pump to cool your home as it is made to do, it must have good airflow. If the airflow has been reduced or there is a blockage, the pump may freeze.

Why Is Heat Pump Airflow Restricted?

  • The air filter is dirty. A dirty filter blocks the air from flowing through and causes freezing of the heat pump. To avoid this, replace the air filters on a regular basis (usually every 2 to 3 months).
  • The vents are blocked. The return vents inside your home may be covered by furniture or objects mistakenly placed on top of them. If you have children, you may want to look inside the vents to be sure they have not been putting toys or other items in them and causing a blockage.
  • The outdoor unit is crowded. If there are plants, bushes or other objects too close to the outside AC unit, the heat pump will not function correctly and may freeze.
  • The blower is not working right or may not be working at all. If the blower or the relay switch on the fan is not working the way it is supposed to, airflow is restricted and can cause your pump to freeze up. Good airflow is integral for a working heat pump.
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What To Do If Your Heat Pump Breaks Down

If you have investigated and found that your heat pump has been freezing up, turn the system off and allow it to thaw. After a few hours of downtime, turn it on to see if it will work again. If it does not start working, it is time to call a certified HVAC professional and ask for their assistance.

An experienced HVAC technician will come to your home and perform an assessment of your unit. If needed, they will repair and replace any broken parts to get it up and running again.

How To Prevent The Heat Pump From Freezing

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  • Set the thermostat at a comfortable temperature and leave it there. Frequent changes can cause a problem.
  • Remember to check and change the air filter. When filters get dirty, and air cannot flow through, a frozen heat pump can result. Replace the air filter on a regular basis throughout the year.
  • Maintain good airflow by making sure the vents inside your home are not blocked by furniture or other items.
  • Make sure there is plenty of space around the outside unit of the heat pump.
  • Schedule HVAC checks on a regular basis. A good rule is to schedule time for your HVAC company to come to your home and check your system twice a year. Spring and late fall are good times for check-ups.

In the meantime, if the heat pump freezes, contact the local professionals.


Contact Point Bay Fuel for Help With Your Heat Pump


You can always get first-rate heat pump services in Ocean and Monmouth County, New Jersey when you call Point Bay Fuel. Our top-of-the-line technicians come highly certified and they’re more than capable of handling all of your heat pump installation, replacement, and repair needs. They know how to get the job done right.

When it comes to heat pump service costs, Point Bay Fuel will give you the most competitive rates in the region. Our maintenance team can also ensure that you’re always enjoying optimum levels of comfort and efficiency, and manageable heating and cooling bills. When your heat pump is ready to be replaced, we’ll also make sure that you choose the right one for your budget, your household, and your home heating and cooling goals. The work that we provide is always backed by a solid guarantee. Set up your service appointment now by calling Point Bay Fuel. We offer in-home estimates.

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