With the peak of winter quickly approaching it’s as important as ever to protect the systems that keep your family and home safe from the weather. An inefficient or broken heat pump and especially harsh winter days can lead to not only discomfort, but costly emergency repairs. Have you taken the proper precautions to keep your heat pump running this season?


What is a heat pump and how do I know if I have one?

A heat pump is a type of HVAC system that can provide both heating and cooling, unlike a furnace which solely provides heat or an A/C unit which solely provides cooling. 

If you have metal box-like units outside of your home you can check if it’s a heat pump with a few simple steps. 

  1. Simply turn up the heat in your house, wait a few minutes for it to kick-on
  2. Go outside to gauge if the unit is running. 
  3. If it is, you most likely have a heat pump. If it’s not then your outdoor unit is probably solely for central air. 


How does a heat pump system work?

In order to heat your home your heat pump removes available heat energy from outside or underground, depending on your unit, and converts it into usable heat inside your home through different coils, valves, vents, compressors, and refrigerants.  

In warmer months your heat pump will reverse that process and pull warm air from the inside, and move it outside as those same coils, valves, vents, compressors and refrigerants release cool air into your home


The importance of protecting your heat pump

While minimal amounts of snow and ice coverage are normal, excessive amounts can decrease the useful life of your heat pump, or prevent it from working at all.

Large amounts of snow and ice can clog the unit, disallowing the proper airflow needed to bring heat into your home, or damage the systems that produce the heat, leaving your home exposed to the severe weather conditions.


Steps to Protecting a Heat Pump

Protecting your heat pump doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are a few simple steps you can take to ensure your unit is fully optimized for winter.


Cover it

Create or purchase a cover or canopy that allows your unit to breathe, cleaning off snow and ice throughout the season. It’s important not to cover the heat pump directly, as it can greatly affect the air flow needed for your unit to function properly. This will help prevent any avoidable damage to the outside of your unit as well.


Clean it

After big snow storms it’s important to clear as much snow as possible from your outdoor unit. Continuing to keep your heat pump free of excess amounts of snow will help avoid ice build-up and overuse of your defrost cycle. 


Pay Attention to the Defrost Cycle

If you notice a thin layer of frost covering your heat pump it’s okay! When heat pumps detect a shift in the unit temperature it switches to defrost mode. For a short period of time the hot air is concentrated on the outdoor unit to melt the frost or ice, so that your heat pump can continue to run at full efficiency. This is why sometimes cold air may emit from indoor vents. It only lasts about 15 minutes. If you notice the heat pump does not come back on after it’s defrost cycle, or you notice a large build up of ice on your unit you’ll want to call a technician to fix the root of the problem as soon as possible. Wyckoff’s team of professionals will make sure you and your family are safe and comfortable this winter.


Maintenance/Service Check

Regular maintenance, especially before the winter months, can prolong the life of your heat pump, help maintain efficiency, and avoid unexpected breakdowns when it matters most. You can take all the measures above and heat pumps can still freeze due to clogged filters, low refrigerant levels, or even dirt build up in your coils. Contact Wyckoff to help prepare and protect your heat pump for the cold Iowa weather conditions.


Des Moines Area Heating System Services

Proper maintenance and care for your heat pump is crucial to the safety of your family during this winter season. Whether it’s for preventive care or emergency repairs Wyckoff professionals can help. Contact us for service today!