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Things Your Heat Pump May Do in Winter (That Aren’t Really Problems)

So, is this your first winter using a heat pump to provide cozy comfort to your house? Whether it’s because you have moved into a new home that has a heat pump installed, or you had the heat pump installed yourself earlier this year, you need to know a few things about what happens during winter. There are some behaviors you may notice from your heat pump that seem alarming. But they are actually normal and not necessarily indications of malfunctions that require repairs:

ONE: The heat pump’s outdoor unit is running during the cold

You know that during the summer an air conditioning system’s outdoor and indoor units will both run when the AC is on. Your heat pump operated the same way during this summer because it works similarly to an AC. But during the winter, you may expect that outdoor unit it shut off. But it won’t. This isn’t a malfunction, but the natural way that a heat pump operates. In heating mode, it runs the same way as an AC, except it reverses the roles of the indoor and outdoor coils. The outdoor coil is responsible for drawing thermal energy from the outside air so it can be transported indoors.

(As we explained last week, current heat pumps are capable of drawing sufficient thermal energy from the outside even during the coldest Chicagoland day.)

TWO: There is smoke coming off the outdoor unit

Yes, this looks alarming. But it’s probably not smoke. It’s water vapor. What you’re seeing is the defrost mode of the heat pump in action. Ice often forms along the outdoor coil as the condensate freezes. Since this will affect how well the coil can absorb heat, the ice must be periodically thawed. During the defrost cycle, the heat pump temporarily releases heat through the outdoor coil and melts the ice. The “smoke” you see is the result of this process.

If you run into other types of issues with the heat pump, such as grinding and shrieking sounds or a drop in comfort levels indoors, call our heat pump repair experts and they’ll be out to help you.

Malek Heating & Cooling offers 24-hour emergency repair service in Evanston, IL.

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