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Your Indianapolis Licensed HVAC Contractor


Your Indianapolis Licensed HVAC Contractor


Vital Heating & Air Blog

Here’s What a Heat Pump Defrost Cycle Looks Like


If you are new to heat pumps, owning one during the winter can certainly be a bit tricky or even confusing! Should there be frost on the outside unit? Is there too much ice on the coils? Why is there steam?

Fortunately, if you’ve found yourself confused about what’s going on with your heat pump, you’ve come to the right spot. Below, we have outlined what a normal heat pump defrost cycle should look like. All you have to do is keep reading to find out more (and remember to call us when you need heat pump services in Indianapolis, IN.)

So, Should There Be Ice?

Ice developing on the heat pump is not necessarily a problem. When the heat pump evaporates refrigerant to draw heat out of the air, the condensation on the outdoor unit can freeze over. For this reason, heat pumps are manufactured with an automatic defrost cycle.

The heat pump will switch to cooling mode, drawing heat out of the air in your home, and using that heat to melt the ice. It is a quick enough process that you don’t have to worry about your home cooling down or wasting energy.

But What About Steam?

Yes, the steam you see coming from the heat pump on those cold days is steam from the ice on the coils melting. It means the heat pump is working the way you want it to!

When Should I Be Concerned?

Now, there is a big difference between the system frosting over or developing a thin layer of ice (it should look like bands) and being completely encased in that ice.

If the ice is covering the unit and is thick enough, it can cover the outdoor coils. That will inhibit the heat transfer process and will put a lot of strain on the system. Eventually, very real and irreversible damage can be done.

You Can Always Call in a Professional

If you are worried about the operation of your heat pump this winter, do not hesitate to call in a certified HVAC professional. Any reputable professional will be happy to give your system the once-over and ensure that everything is working as it should.

If you have questions about your heat pump, contact the team at Vital Heating & Air. Your Comfort is Vital!

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