You know it’s coming … that first big snow that’s a little exciting as you grab your snow shovel or fire up the snowblower. And then the second snow, the third snow … and you’re over it. Nonetheless, you probably want to add a task to the clear-the-driveway-and-sidewalk routine. You need to take a look at your outdoor HVAC unit. This little guy probably needs some attention during the bone-chilling New Jersey winter!
Ice can Impact HVAC Defrost Setting
While most heat pumps and HVAC systems are designed with an automatic defrost setting that melts the ice off the coils, it needs airflow to do so. When snow and ice build upon the top of the unit, the defrost system will not work. The BEST thing that can happen is an increased electric bill and substantial wear and tear on the entire system. Worst-case scenario: the build-up triggers an emergency shut-off when the system freezes up, cutting off heat to the home. Without heat, you risk bursting water pipes.
Dangerous Blocking of the Furnace Exhaust
Too much snow could block your furnace exhaust. This may prevent your unit from working, or even worse, allow deadly carbon monoxide to come into your home. Most furnaces will have a safety switch shut down your unit if it becomes blocked.
Icicles Pose Damage to Your Outdoor Unit
Those days of thawing and refreezing can be very dangerous for homeowners, especially when it comes to their outdoor HVAC units. Icicles that accumulate above your outdoor HVAC unit may fall and damage your system. This damage can be fairly extensive and lead to expensive replacements.
Corrosion and Rust Build-Up
Deep snow that melts can cause water to leak into your system. And that water will freeze again once the temperature dips — leading to corrosion and rust build-up throughout your HVAC unit.
So, when a significant ice or snowstorm hits, go take a look at your heat pump and outdoor HVAC system. Here are a few tips from your Southern New Jersey heating and cooling experts, Heating Specialties:
- Snow buildup that rises above the base of the unit should be shoveled away
- Inspect gutters to ensure they’re not dripping on the unit
- If ice has formed, melt it with warm water (an ice pick is a BAD idea and can damage your system!)
- If temperatures are still freezing out, warm water will merely refreeze. In this case, let the defrost cycle run its course once or twice (give it an hour) or call your licensed Heating Specialties HVAC service technician.
Other ways to keep your HVAC or heat pump system operating at maximum efficiency
- Outdoor units should never be installed directly on the ground – we set the unit above ground on an elevated pad.
- Build a wind barrier with either shrubs or fences but remember to keep them far enough away for servicing and airflow
- Keep the unit at least 18” away from the exterior wall to increase air passage and to avoid drifting exposure
And remember, if you have a question before the snow begins to blow … or an issue develops, call your southern New Jersey experts at Heating Specialties at (866) 923-2653.