Protecting Your Heat System from Snow & Ice
Routine check-ups from HVAC professionals safeguard your HVAC system from damage and even total system replacement.
As the weather gets colder, homeowners everywhere have to brace for extreme and unpredictable winter weather. In addition to the added energy use and expense associated with cooler weather, the extreme cold can have adverse effects on your home and HVAC system. It’s important to keep your heating equipment protected from the snow and ice and ensure you won’t be left in the cold during the winter months due to a weather-related breakdown.
What Damage am I Preventing?
For interior HVAC care, it’s important to change your air filters, use a programmable thermostat, and have your unit inspected annually by your local HVAC professionals. For outside HVAC care, it’s important to prevent the effects of weather-related damage in the winter, and even into spring.
In the winter, ice and snow can pose a threat to clog your unit. Every month, debris and storm damage can take its toll on your outside HVAC unit. When you have ice and snow blocking the airflow between your heat pump and the outdoor air, the energy efficiency of your system may damage the unit. While a thin layer of frost is completely normal, lots of snow and ice need to be taken care of.
Inspect the perimeter of your home after every big snowstorm. If you have a gas furnace, make sure that your intake and exhaust pipes are free and clear. If your pipes are clogged, this can lead to combustion gases leaking into the home or a system shutdown.
Heat Pump Defrost Cycle
Heat pumps are manufactured to deal with an average amount of ice buildup by using its automatic defrost system and switching to heat-distribution mode. This 15-minute cycle works by returning the hot refrigerant back to the outdoor heat pump to melt the ice and snow (similar to how heat pumps work in the summer). During this cycle, you may notice some cool air coming out of your vents. This is normal. Just wait 10-15 minutes for the unit to kick back on.
In some units, the electric heat kicks on, known as auxiliary heat. If the heat pump does not come back on after its defrost cycle, you will continue to use “auxiliary heat.” If your heat pump isn’t working, the auxiliary heat will comfortably get you through the night, but it will drastically increase your electric bill, so it’s important to call a professional technician to fix the root cause ASAP.
Suggested Snow & Ice Maintenance
If your heat pump’s defrost cycle doesn’t come on and your unit remains frosty or frozen for more than 3 hours, you should have it checked by a professional to avoid any further damage. While your outdoor heat pump defrost cycle can help with small amounts of snow and ice, it’s still important to do what you can to keep your unit free of large amounts of snow and ice. Here are some things you can do to prevent heat pump snow and ice buildup:
- Clear away debris from the unit, maintaining a 2-foot clearance around the entire unit.
- Create a cover, canopy, or freestanding shelter for your unit.
- Never stack anything on top of your heat pump.
- Make sure there are no nearby weak tree limbs that could fall and damage your unit.
- Cover and insulate all pipes that are prone to bursting in freezing temperatures.
- Visually check your condenser and make sure it is clear of snow and undamaged.
- Clear snow and ice away from your unit. Never melt ice when the outside temperature is below freezing.
- Replace your air filter if needed.
- Contact your local HVAC professionals at Hiller to clean your unit and perform a winter performance checkup.
How to Protect your Rooftop HVAC Unit
Even as a business owner, protecting your rooftop HVAC unit from winter weather is important routine maintenance. To keep the temperature in your building comfortable all winter long, follow these easy tips:
- Invest in a good drainage system: A proper drainage system will keep melting snow and ice from dripping into the unit itself. Make sure your gutter and drainage system is cleaned and inspected at least twice a year.
- Regularly scheduled maintenance: Routine check-ups from HVAC professionals safeguard your HVAC system from damage and even total system replacement. An HVAC specialist can replace any old parts, change the air filter if necessary, and prepare your HVAC system to make it through the winter.
Hiller offers both residential and commercial HVAC services. Reach out to our knowledgeable and helpful team of experts for more information on how to avoid damage from snow and ice. Schedule a preventative maintenance or tune-up appointment 24/7. Give us a call at 844-694-4553 to have a Hiller Plumber handle your install, or schedule your appointment online today!