Why Do Heat Pumps Have Defrost Systems?

Exterior AC unit in the morning after a night of snowfall. Cooling unit of a townhouse.
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The Defrost Cycle of a Heat Pump

When the temperatures are low, you may notice your heat pump is running differently. This is nothing to worry about!  Your heat pump may be initiating the defrost cycle, which is a normal but important process your unit undergoes in colder temperatures.

What Is The Defrost Cycle?

The defrost cycle is activated when the temperature of the outdoor coil drops below 32 degrees. At this temperature, frost can form on the coil, which can cause damage if it builds up.  This is where the defrost cycle comes in.

Your heat pump will switch to cooling mode to warm up the coil and melt the ice. This cycle can run several times to keep the frost buildup at a minimum.

When Does A Heat Pump Go Into Defrost Mode?

You’ll know the defrost cycle is activated when the heat pump switches from heating to cooling. You may hear the reversing valve when this occurs.

Another sign the defrost cycle is running is the indoor unit will run but the outdoor fan will be off. The cycle lasts from 5 – 15 minutes and should not affect the temperature inside your home.

When Should You Be Concerned?

As mentioned above, the defrost cycle starts when the outdoor coil reaches 32 degrees or below. The defrost cycle should not be running in warmer temperatures or running for an extended period of time.

If either or both of these instances are occurring, your unit should be inspected.

How To Prevent Issues With Your Heat Pump

The average lifespan of a heat pump in Wilmington, NC, and surrounding areas is 10 – 12 years. To get the most out of your system and keep it running efficiently, look into a preventative maintenance plan.

There are many benefits to having your system checked annually. From simple pleasures like cleaner air to saving possibly tens of thousands of dollars on a premature replacement.

Minor issues can be found before they become major problems. Emergencies can be prevented, preserving your comfort, especially during extreme temperatures. Also, the lifespan of your system can be extended to provide peace of mind for a decade or more.

How O’Brien Service Company Can Help

We are locally owned and have serviced New Hanover, Brunswick, and Pender counties since 1981. With 40 years in the HVAC field, we offer peace of mind for maintenance, repairs, and replacements for residential and commercial systems.

We offer an annual maintenance service for your HVAC system and several accessories that reduce allergies, germs, and leaky air ducts.

If you need to replace your unit, we offer a complimentary in-home evaluation so your home does not suffer the consequences of an overblown budget and/or poorly-fitted system.

Our technicians are continually educated on the improvements and updates on everything HVAC.  This investment is made to provide an accurate and consistent assessment at every appointment.

This all goes to say O’Brien Service Company is here for all of your HVAC needs, from the little things like going out for a free second opinion and changing out filters to repairing and replacing a whole system. Give us a call at 910-799-6611 for any questions you may have about your HVAC system.