Is Your Heat Pump Freezing Up In Summer?

frozen heat pump

Heat pumps are one of the most crucial pieces of home equipment. It offers year-round comfort, keeping your home cool or warm during extreme temperature conditions. Like other machines, however, heat pumps may exhibit problems from time to time. For example, a common issue that homeowners experience is a heat pump freezing up in summer. This article discusses all you need to know about this HVAC issue. It also includes tips on how to prevent it from happening to your system.

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Heat Pump Freezing Up In Summer

If you have a frozen heat pump, there are as few things you should be aware of first. Most importantly, don’t panic! This isn’t as serious of a problem as you think. Your heat pump may be having issues due to the following:

How Does A Heat Pump Work?

heat pump operationIn order to understand why a heat pump may freeze up in the summer, you will need to have a basic understanding of how a heat pump works. Heat pumps help regulate your home’s temperature. It works by transferring heat to various areas. The heat pump moves the heat inside your home to the outdoors during the summer, so you remain cool and comfortable. It reverses this cycle in the winter, so you stay inside a warm and comfortable home.

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What Are The Signs Of A Frozen Heat Pump?

flushed man feeling hot in front of a fan due to poor heat pump performance

The first step of a heat pump assessment is determining whether or not it is frozen. Here are several easily recognizable signs that you have a frozen heat pump:

  • The Heat Pump Isn’t Working: Your heat pump may not work as it should if your home isn’t cooling down. This is an obvious sign of a heat pump issue. A frozen heat pump will not work correctly and cannot cool your home.
  • Ice On The Heat Pump Unit: Another obvious sign that you have a frozen heat pump is frost or ice on the outdoor unit despite the summer heat. This typically indicates that the unit has frozen coils, which need to be thawed.
  • Water Leaking From The Unit: Water leaking from your outdoor unit usually points to frozen coils thawing out. Go outside and look at your HVAC unit for these or other unusual symptoms.
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Common Causes For Frozen Heat Pumps

It can be frustrating to have a frozen heat pump. However, knowing the cause of the issue can help. Here are several reasons your heat pump can freeze:

Outdoor Temperature

image of thermometer and sun depicting high outdoor temperatures and heat pump performance

If the temperature outside is too warm, your heat pump may not run properly. As a matter of fact, your system cannot go any cooler when the outside temperatures get to around 100 degrees Fahrenheit.


Humidity also makes your heat pump work harder. High humidity levels make it harder for the heat pump to eliminate moisture from the air. As a result, there will be condensation on the coils. This moisture can then freeze.

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Doors & Windows

If windows or doors are open, warm air can enter your home, so the heat pump must work continuously to keep your home cool. This can stress out your system over time, causing damage to the unit.

Heat Pump Thermostat Setting

Adjusting and setting thermostat

A heat pump set too low means it will run continuously to achieve the desired temperature. This can result in frozen coils.

Broken Thermostat

A faulty thermostat can cause the heat pump to switch on and off erratically. It can also cause the coils to freeze.


Refrigerant Levels

The refrigerant is the chemical in your heat pump that makes it work. Refrigerant issues mean everything stops working correctly. For instance, the unit can freeze if the heat pump’s refrigerant level is low. Only an HVAC professional can help you resolve this.

Leaking refrigerants isn’t good as this substance is toxic to animals and humans. It can cause eye and skin irritation or even death. It can also result in a frozen heat pump. Don’t try cleaning or repairing a leaking refrigerant on your own.

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Dirty Heat Pump Coil

heat pump coil

The refrigerant in your heat pump is in the evaporator coil. It works when the refrigerant absorbs the heat from the air to cool it. It cannot operate efficiently if the coil is dirty.

Heat Pump Compressor

The compressor is the heat pump component that helps the refrigerant move around. If you have a malfunctioning compressor, your heat pump won’t be able to cool your home, and your heat pump may become frozen.

HVAC Airflow

image of a hvac air vent depicting obstructed heat pump vent

Heat pumps require proper HVAC airflow to conduct effective and efficient home cooling. However, reduced or blocked airflow can cause the unit to freeze up. Some of the ways that can restrict the airflow include:

  • Air Filter: A dirty air filter can cause airflow restriction and freeze the heat pump. Air filters need to be replaced regularly so the unit can operate properly.
  • Return Vents: Ensure that all vents are open and no furniture or other objects are blocking them.
  • Outdoor Unit: The perimeter of the heat pump’s outdoor unit should have proper clearance.
  • Blower: A malfunctioning blower, fan relay switch, or fan can restrict airflow and cause the heat pump to freeze over in the summer.

Keep in mind that airflow is crucial for your heat pump to work correctly.

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What Do You Do If Your Heat Pump Stops Working?

If you suspect that you have a frozen heat pump, turn off your unit. Leave it off for a few hours to allow it to thaw. If the unit still doesn’t work even after a few hours, contact a professional HVAC technician to inspect your system. An HVAC expert will examine and properly diagnose the issue. They will also repair or replace any faulty components.


What Can You Do To Prevent Your Heat Pump From Freezing Up In The Future?

Heat pumps are susceptible to freezing. However, you can take several steps to help prevent this issue, such as:

  • Ensure the thermostat stays at the same temperature. Don’t turn it up and down often.
  • Replace the air filter regularly. The heat pump can freeze, and the airflow will be restricted if you have a dirty air filter. Air filters should be replaced periodically to help your system work properly.
  • Clear any blockages from your vents. Ensure that all vents around your home are open. Remove any blockages like furniture and other objects as well.
  • Ensure that the outdoor unit of your heat pump has proper clearance around it.
  • Book regular check-ups. Hire a reliable and reputable HVAC company twice a year (one for cooling and one for heating) to service the unit.

If you have a frozen heat pump, switch it off and call an HVAC professional.

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It can be frustrating and confusing when your heat pump freezes in summer. You can troubleshoot the problem when you have the proper knowledge. Your local, experienced HVAC technician can also help you to ensure your heat pump is back up and running in no time.

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For superior HVAC services in northeastern Pennsylvania, call R.F. Ohl. We hire professionally certified technicians to perform top-notch heating and cooling services, including heat pump tune-ups, boiler repairs, A/C installations, and more. All our knowledgeable and experienced techs can service your HVAC system correctly.

Our company offers the area’s most competitive HVAC service costs. Our maintenance services can help you achieve improved comfort and energy efficiency while lowering your heating and cooling expenses. We can recommend the best HVAC repair or replacement system for your home within your budget. We back all our work with a guarantee. Schedule a service appointment by giving R.F. Ohl a call today. We offer free, in-home estimates.

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