Have you noticed a shift in how your heat pump operates during the coldest months of the year in Brighton, CO? Your heat pump may be running in the defrost cycle.

What is the defrost cycle, and why does it happen? Read on to understand this concept and how your heat pump benefits from the defrost cycle.

The Defrost Cycle Explained In-Depth

The heat pump forms a vital part of your HVAC system. During winter, the refrigerant transfers heat from the outdoor air to your home. In the hotter months, the heat pump draws the heat from your house to the outdoors using the same process.

During the coldest months, when temperatures drop below 32 degrees, the fan blows cold air on the outdoor coil, forcing moisture in the air to freeze, leading to frost formation. When this happens, your heat pump activates the defrost cycle to defrost the outdoor coil.

In the defrost mode, your heat pump recognizes that ice has built up or is building up on the outdoor coil. Your system then reverses its regular operation by forcing warm air on the outdoor coil, which removes the ice buildup. The defrost mode continues until the temperature on your outdoor coil is at 57 degrees.

Signs Your Heat Pump Is in the Defrost Cycle

The signs when your heat pump switches to the defrost mode are often obvious. First, you can expect the defrost cycle to start when there is a significant drop in outdoor temperatures.

You’ll then notice a surge of warm air blowing into your home, and your heat pump will begin to produce humming sounds. The indoor and outdoor fans will also stop working, and the compressor system will run. Thanks to technological advancements, some modern heat pump models will give a visual indication, such as blinking lights, to indicate that your unit is in defrost mode.

The constant frost buildup on the outdoor coils restricts airflow across the heat pump. This reduces the efficiency of your system, which may cause permanent damage to your outdoor heat exchanger. The defrost cycle should last about 10-30 minutes. You should contact our experienced HVAC technicians if your heat pump often defrosts for more than 30 minutes.

How Often Will Your System Go Into Defrost Mode?

Different factors will influence how often your heat pump switches to the defrost mode. During frigid days, moisture will freeze on the outdoor heat exchanger, forming frost or ice, and activating the defrost cycle.

Your heat pump will trigger another defrost cycle if there is an excess of snow even after your heat pump completes the first defrost cycle. A defrost cycle also happens when the outdoor fan motor traps snow within the outdoor coil after drawing in cold air from the fan.

Other factors that might trigger a defrost cycle include the condition of the heat pump and the amount of heating load your system is trying to deliver. Inside the computer control of your heat pump, you’ll find built-in timers that control how often your system goes into the defrost cycle.

A heat pump should run for about 35 minutes after starting before it completes its first defrosting cycle. Afterward, defrost cycles shouldn’t occur at intervals of less than 40 minutes. The operational error makes your heat pump defrost too quickly and restricts sufficient heat delivery.

Avoiding the Defrost Mode

Our HVAC technicians at Lumberjack HVAC have expertise in troubleshooting user error issues. When our technicians eliminate the user error possibility, they will check whether you have an improperly sized heat pump. They will then replace your system with an appropriately sized one.

If your heat pump keeps building up frost and ice on your outdoor coil, it isn’t completing its full defrost cycle. This can occur due to many reasons, such as a faulty reversing valve, a faulty thermostat and leak in the refrigerant, damage to the outdoor coil, fan blades running in the wrong direction, and a fan refusing to engage. Don’t stress over these issues, however. Instead, give us a call so we can help.

Since 2015, our technicians at Lumberjack HVAC have provided excellent heating and air conditioning services for our customers in Brighton, CO. We also provide complete HVAC services, including air conditioning, ductwork, filters, humidifiers, and indoor air quality services. We’re accredited with the BBB and maintain an A+ rating. Our HVAC technicians know that our clients rely on heat pumps to provide comfort to their homes.

We are a member of the Association for Commercial Cleaning and Air Conditioning and have been certified by the EPA. We aim to provide a quality service for every customer. Our professional and friendly team offers a personable, warm family feel throughout the process.

Contact Lumberjack HVAC today for more information.

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