How can ice effects impact your indoor comfort? After all, the ample BTUs generated by your heating system ought to make ice formation very unlikely, if not impossible. However, with certain types of systems, ice formation may indeed interfere with proper furnace function and deprive your home of warmth just when you need it most. Here’s an overview of how ice effects might impact home heating and what can be done to prevent it.
High-efficiency furnaces with an AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) rating above 90 utilize a secondary heat exchanger that extracts extra heat from condensation that’s present in hot furnace exhaust. In normal operation, the heating process produces several gallons of water daily, which flows through a drain pipe and is discharged outside the house.
Or not. If the drain line isn’t properly sloped to keep the condensate flow moving, ice may accumulate at the outdoor end of the pipe and eventually obstruct drainage. A furnace sensor detects condensate blockage and, for safety reasons, automatically shuts down the furnace.
A qualified HVAC service technician can check drain-pipe function and reroute it to make the slope more steep to promote faster condensate drainage. This typically eliminates ice effects and furnace shutdowns.
Heat Pump Freeze-Ups
In winter heating mode, a heat pump operates like an air conditioner in reverse, extracting latent heat energy from air at the outdoor evaporator coil and moving it indoors to warm the house. In normal operation, a light dusting of frost may appear on the outdoor evaporator coil. When something’s wrong, however, thick ice may form on the coil, obstructing proper heat extraction and triggering a safety switch that shuts down the unit.
Scenarios that may cause ice effects on outdoor heat pump coils include:
- Insufficient refrigerant charge, typically caused by a leak.
- The heat pump’s automatic defrost function, which melts frost and ice off the coils at regular intervals, is malfunctioning.
If ice effects compromise your home comfort this winter, contact Jackson and Sons for professional service to diagnose the issue and restore normal heating function.