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Why Is My Heat Pump Icing Up?

Heat pumps are highly efficient heating and cooling machines. Sometimes during the winter, the outdoor condenser collects a layer of ice. Why does this happen? Should you be concerned when your heat pump ices up?

Why Is the Heat Pump Freezing Up & Should I Be Concerned?

Even cold, dry air contains water vapor. When the vapor is exposed to a temperature below dew point, it changes from a vapor into a liquid. When dew point is also below freezing, the liquid water turns to ice. This is the reason dew forms on grass in the summer and frost forms in the winter.

The perfect condition for a heat pump to ice up is when outdoor air is between 20 and 40 degrees and relative humidity approaches 70 percent or higher. These conditions are common during New Jersey winters.

A little bit of frost is completely normal. Most heat pumps today have a sensor to tell it when ice is forming. Before it becomes too thick, the defrost cycle automatically sends heat back through the outdoor coil to thaw the ice.

What to Do

If you check your heat pump and see a thin layer of ice starting to form, check back later to see if it’s still there. As long as the ice doesn’t linger, you have nothing to worry about. However, you should become concerned if the entire unit becomes encased in ice, including the top and inside of the unit. If you see this type of ice buildup happening, call a heating and cooling expert to address the problem quickly because something is probably wrong with the defrost cycle. Running a heat pump with a thick layer of ice can:


  • Decrease efficiency
  • Damage the equipment
  • Compromise comfort in your home

Please understand that it’s normal for a heat pump to stop heating your home for two to 10 minutes at a time when the weather is around freezing. This is the defrost cycle in action. If you notice this type of behavior from your heat pump, it’s working just like it should. That said, we do recommend using a backup heat source during the cold months for when temperatures drop into the extremes.

Heat Pump Repair & Replacement in Central NJ

Since 1977, Arctic Air Conditioning has been providing heat pump repair and heat pump replacement in Middletown, Princeton and surrounding areas in central New Jersey. For more help figuring out the reason behind your heat pump icing up, contact us today!

5 Rating |

”Great fast service. Thank you guys for emergency visit. Called at 8 pm, everything back up at 9pm.”

- Yan Vayner
5 Rating |

”They answered the call very quickly. The technician diagnosed and fixed the problem quickly. The technicians were very polite and tidy.”

- Anne Duffy
5 Rating |

”Arctic Air came to the rescue when another local vendor, Artem HVAC, did not show up for their scheduled appointment after waiting all day. Finally at 7pm , after not…”

- Melany Freedman
5 Rating |

”quick service, helpful, problem repaired on first day, other advice given in regards to my system outside of what i called them for. would use agin”

- Josh Bucher
5 Rating |

”On time ! Very thorough , great job. Artic air always comes through”

- Rick Bachmann
5 Rating |

”I almost never write reviews for any trades that do work in my home because I've found that most I use are usually satisfactory and get the job done. I've…”

- Alan Schwartz
5 Rating |

”Thank you for excellent customer service and extreme professionalism. Alex Gallo was so informative and friendly and the guys that came to do the job were great and very clean…”

- Mia Robertson
5 Rating |

”Fantastic company. I would highly recommend!”

- James Blosser
5 Rating |

”FINALLY! I found a company that's honest, reliable & has well trained employees who explain everything in detail.. Impressed with the whole company from the sales men who come to…”

- Beverly Gearhart
5 Rating |

”Always reliable, work quickly, and reasonably priced.”

- Joseph Felicetti
5 Rating |

”We had a problem with our heat. They responded fast over the phone and within an hour they were at the house. Turned out to be a faulty flame sensor.…”

- Mike Green
5 Rating |

”Dan was exceptionally polite and professional. I would use arctic air again in a heartbeat. Particularly Dan. Very very happy!”

- Travis Fascia
5 Rating |

”Jesse did an excellent job and was knowledgeable in the furnace tune up process. I would recommend Arctic Air always. Thank you.”

- Vernon Fernandes
5 Rating |

”Jesse did a great job for us. Showed us that our humidifier had not been working for the past 4 1/2 years since we moved into our house. We hope…”

- Michael Klass
5 Rating |

”Got same day service for issue with my furnace. Michael C. was professional, friendly, courteous and wore protective shoe covers, so nothing from the outside was tracked inside. He explained…”

- Teri Somoza
5 Rating |

”Shout out to Frank of Arctic Air for answering my frantic calls last night and walking me thru process to stop water from leaking furnace pump and huge thank for…”

- Diane Diaz Carbone
5 Rating |

”It was my first time using Artic Air and have to say they were great! My furnace shut down on one of the coldest night of the year and they…”

- Lauren Johnson-Passanesi
5 Rating |

”We have been customers for decades and always find Arctic Air to be competent and reliable. Robert, the technician on our recent call, was prompt, professional, knowledgeable, and courteous!”

- Deborah Ross
5 Rating |

”They have always dispatched knowledgeable and courteous repairmen. I dealt with another company that whenever they came to my home (for routine maintenance) would try to sell me a new…”

- adele miller
5 Rating |

”Very nice Professional timely and knowledgeable Got an appt quickly Would use again”

- Jennifer Bracco Ring
5 Rating |

”Arctic air responded to our problem immediately and professionally. We had a 6 year old Trane HVAC system with a heat pump that stopped working. Their technician came out and…”

- Jeff Bouquio
5 Rating |

”Loved Michael C’s Service! He’s patient, kind, reassuring, prompt and knowledgeable!”

- Amanda Sura Isaacson
5 Rating |

”Dan was the best and he proved experience really counts to figure out the RCA with the issue I had. Thanks for the availability and support over the weekend.”

- Kuchu Naidu
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