Ice Buildup Under Heat Pump

This morning when I got my bike out of the yard to take Juniorette to school, I heard a loud clattering noise from the box-like outdoor part of our air source heat pump. At first I thought the ball bearing on the rotor had crapped out. But the guy who installed it explained over the phone that the problem was most likely not as severe as that.

A heat pump like ours dribbles condensation water through a spigot on the under side. It’s been an unusually cold winter, and so the water has collected as ice on the ground beneath the box, building up layer by layer until it made contact with the casing and blocked the spigot. Then the water started to collect and freeze inside the machine. The clattering noise is caused by the rotor blades hitting an ice ridge, which is plainly visible if you shine a light into the thing.

Coming home today, I shoveled away the snow around the heat pump box and poured three buckets of hot water onto the ice floe under it. Then I used a spade, an electric drill and a small axe to remove the ice. Dunno how to get the ice out of the box before the temperature rises above freezing.

Live & learn. Next year I won’t let this happen.

Update 22 Fabruary: Turned out all I needed to get the ice out of the box was a screwdriver and an axe.

[More blog entries about , ; , .]

Advertisements

14 thoughts on “Ice Buildup Under Heat Pump

  1. hot air gun, the sort people use to soften paint for removal from walls and suchlike. got a tools and hardware rental company nearby?

    Like

  2. Good suggestions. Wonder how to deliver hot water for a long time slowly through a thin straw. Also, I’m kind of hoping that the machine’s own effluvium might open the channel now that the ice slab below is gone.

    Like

  3. the condensate will likely be cold; unless your weather is fairly close to freezing, it’ll just build up the ice ridge even more. i keep thinking you likely don’t want that rotor bumping into a solid ridge for too very long. maybe you could throw a handful of salt at the ice to help melt it? that would corrode the inside of the housing, of course, but that may be preferable to breaking a rotor.

    Like

  4. A small heater under the box, a blanket over it.

    A thin, slanted membrane (even a paper plate if sufficiently distant from the heat source, otherwise aluminum) to divert meltwater from the heater.

    Like

  5. My old heat pump back in the 90s handled icing by simply pumping out some heat from the house whenever it got too cold internally. After a cycle, it would resume pumping heat back in. It had a little thermostat inside.

    Like

  6. Such problem generally happens in winter, we can not dispense with heat pump in winter because of this trivial matter. in this case, selection of heat pumps matter, and positioning of the pump. the market is stuffed with variety of heat pumps for residential applications and commercial buildings, but there are two types of heat pumps such as Ground source and Geothermal heat pumps. which can stand out in terms of efficiency, performance, technology, and cost effectiveness.

    Like

  7. We have alternative heating, electric radiators under most of the house’s windows. So maybe it’s best to simply let the machine rest until the temperature picks up. Though Pierce’s suggestion about the car heater and the blanket sounds entirely workable.

    Like

  8. One thing I used when my locks froze in a Yamagata winter was a cheap plastic oil squirter filled with boiling water. Squirt enough of the water in to clear the lock and go.

    So I’d suggest the same – as you can see the ice ridge. Might be a multi-stage job, and you’d probably have to use a hair-dryer or heater to clear any water that freezes in the casing

    Like

  9. Recently purchased a new heat pump, then the winter ice caused it to make a loud sound, banging… After that, the aux was on most of the time needing help to heat the home…Called the company from where I purchased the unit, and he said it was damaged. So, later he came out and said that the unit was ok, and that the aux comes on just to reach the temperature in my home. Is this right? The banging stopped after the ice melted, but do I need to worry about this each winter? Why aren’t these heat pumps manufactured to withstand winter???

    Like

  10. The banging was probably due to ice buildup inside the casing. Make sure the spigot on the bottom of the unit doesn’t get stopped by ice. I check my unit once a week.

    Like

  11. I put a self regulaing heat wire inside the heat pump( in the bottom),,220 volts wire plug directley in the same electric box outside. work great ..cost mayde 5 dollars for 3 months! disconnect the rest of the year!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s