This winter has been a challenge for heating systems, whether it be heat pumps or gas furnaces. We’d like to offer a few suggestions to help prevent problems with your system based on what we have seen this winter.
First let’s look at heat pumps. It is necessary to keep drifting snow away to allow proper air flow through the outdoor coil and not interfere with the defrost cycle. Ice that we see on the ground around the heat pump is a sign the heat pump is working. Ice comes from the defrost cycle. However, we don’t want the ice on the ground to build up and come in contact with the bottom of the heat pump as we have seen several times this winter. This will block drain holes under the coil and prevent the defrost water from draining. The ice building up from the bottom could possibly damage the coil. Also, watch for ice and snow that has built up on roof tops that might fall on the heat pump. Or water dripping off the roof or gutters on to the heat pump and fan blades. Ice on the blades will cause it to be out of balance and the vibrations can lead to refrigeration leaks.
Some customers have inquired about raising the heat pumps to sit higher off the ground. This certainly will not hurt but could be expensive depending on your refrigeration piping. One interesting fact we might mention is that we have had heat pumps installed in our area for over 25 years and this is the first year that we have ever seen a problem with heat pumps buried in snow and deep ice build up under the heat pump causing problems.
Now for gas furnaces. Keep the snow away from the exhaust and intake pipes. We have seen this to be a problem this winter whether the exhaust comes through the sidewall or the roof. Exhausts burried in snow will cause the furnace to shut down.
For any type of heating system, with extended cold periods, the systems are running more and air filters may not last as long and may need to be replaced more often. Clogged filters will restrict the air flow resulting in your indoor temperature not being able to reach the set point of the thermostat.
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