Can I Pour Hot Water On A Frozen Heat Pump? (Find Out Now!)

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart

Back when I used to have to get up early for school, I’d pour hot water on my car’s glass to get the ice off. It didn’t take too long for a crack to develop. I still occasionally use hot water on frozen items as a way to speed-defrost, even if it’s not a good idea. I’ve even done it with heat pumps. But, should anyone really try this on something as delicate as a heat pump?

Believe it or not, pouring hot water on a frozen heat pump is one of the best ways to defrost it. The hot water will melt away the ice, making it easier for your heat pump to function. Trying to physically break apart the ice can damage the pump, which is why melting it with hot water is the smarter move.

A frozen heat pump can make life in your home pretty uncomfortable, but going at it forcefully isn’t usually the way to go. This guide will give you a full understanding of what needs to be done.

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Why Is Pouring Hot Water On A Frozen Heat Pump Okay?

When your heat pump freezes, there’s a lot more that goes on than meets the eye. Your heat pump is working with dozens of smaller parts, many of which are fairly delicate for their build. Pouring hot water is a gentle way of melting away the ice without forcing apart all those little mechanisms.

If you try to break apart the ice manually, there’s a chance that physically forcing the ice off the pump will tear some of the more delicate pieces of your pump. This could destroy your pump in one single move. While pouring hot water can make ice pop on your pump, it’s still gentler than using a pry bar.

How Hot Should The Water Be?

A good way to tell if it’s hot enough to melt the ice is to put your finger on it. If it’s steaming, burns a little, and would be appropriate for soup, it’s good to go. Heat pumps are meant to work with heat, so you don’t have to worry about the pump getting burned by the temperature of the water.

How Much Frost On A Heat Pump Is Normal?

Frost on a heat pump can be normal, especially if you’re in the middle of January and it’s cold as a brick. If you see a small layer of frost around your heat pump, it could simply be due to the icy weather. However, if you’re noticing a thick coat of ice around your pump, that’s when you should be concerned.

If your heat pump is entirely bricked over in ice, almost to the point of looking cartoonish, there is a serious problem. This level of ice denotes that something could be wrong with your system. It warrants enough concern to call a repairman since this could be something awry with your heat pump’s ventilation.

What If I Notice The Heat Pump Making Strange Noises?

Sometimes, a frozen heat pump is not going to be easy to spot. It’s not going to be covered with frost, but it will still have its own warning signals. One of the more common issues is a strange sound that’s emanating from your heat pump. When your heat pump’s fans are starting to freeze over, you’ll start to hear the fan make more noise.

The sound is often likened to the noise washing machines make, but it’s also been called a whirring, grinding noise. If you hear this, the fan is starting to freeze over. Turn off your heat pump, pour piping hot water over the fan portion of your pump, and let it melt.

What Happens If I Keep Running A Heat Pump With A Frozen Fan?

At first, you might not notice much when it comes to your heating system aside from a loud buzz. However, running a pump with a frozen fan is not a good idea. Eventually, the ice will place enough stress on your unit’s fan to potentially lead to your fan motor breaking. If you start hearing a clunking noise, you probably have a broken fan.

How Bad Is Having A Frozen Heat Pump?

It all depends on the quantity of frost you’re seeing, as well as the location of said frost. A light covering of frost on your unit on a winter day is totally normal. However, if you let a thick coat of frost build up over the unit, you may end up with a bad heat pump sooner rather than later. The same can be said about having a frozen fan.

The best way to think about it is that it’s a warning sign. Right now, things are usually easy enough to fix. Left alone, the problems you’re seeing could easily multiply.

How Can You Prevent Your Heat Pump From Getting Frozen?

A frozen heat pump is no joke, but in some cases, it can be prevented. It’s all about making sure that your home is well-maintained, really. These tips below can help:

  • Keep the area around your heat pump clear of debris and snow. Fallen leaves, tall grass, and snow can all clog up the airflow in your air conditioning unit. When the airflow is compromised, your air conditioning unit will not be able to keep the warmth around the evaporator coils long enough to prevent freezing. By just keeping the area around your unit tidy, you already win most of the battle.
  • Watch for leaks. Air leaks in your unit can easily cause your warm air to escape into areas it shouldn’t flow into. When this happens, you can end up with portions of your unit that won’t have adequate airflow to keep your machine running. (More specifically, this happens around your fan area.) If you notice a leak, address it immediately.
  • Replace the air filters inside your home regularly. Air filters are one of the leading causes of HVAC problems, and that includes the stuff that happens with your heat pump. If your heat pump is constantly on auxiliary heat, then you’re long overdue for a filter replacement. To prevent freezing outside, replace your filters every 30 to 60 days.
  • Make sure that you don’t have any other problems with your heat pump, even if they appear minor. For example, if your heat pump won’t go into defrost mode, you probably should start poking around to see what’s up. With heat pumps and other HVAC supplies, one problem can quickly multiply into others. Unless you want to get a complete overhaul, it’s best to keep your HVAC intact.

Should You Call A Repairman For A Frozen Heat Pump?

This all depends on how bad the problem is. A light coat of ice will be enough to cure through the use of hot water. A cartoonishly large brick of ice, on the other hand, is usually a problem that is better suited for a professional to examine. While you could do some work on your heat pump, it’s often smarter to know your limits when it comes to these types of problems.

Generally speaking, a repairman who has HVAC expertise is going to be your best bet if you are having serious problems with your equipment. This is especially true if you can’t diagnose the problem or find the source of a leak in your system.

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Related Questions

How can I tell if my HVAC system has a heat pump?

This is a pretty simple fix. All you need to do is turn on the heat in your home and walk outside. If you hear a low hum coming from your unit and feel warmth coming off of it, then you probably have a heat pump. If you don’t see a unit outside or you don’t hear any indication of activity from the unit you see, you probably don’t have a heat pump.With that said, most realtors and home sellers will tell a potential buyer what type of heating system they use. It’s just part of knowing what you’re getting into.

What is the best temperature to keep your home at?

To a point, this is a matter of personal preference. However, most HVAC techs agree that there is an optimal range. The best temperature range for a home’s interior is between 68 and 78 degrees, since this is the healthiest range for people. If it’s wintertime, it’s better to lower the temperature closer to 68 to save on energy bills. Meanwhile, having it closer to 78 for a summer day is considered to be ideal.

How cold is too cold for a heat pump?

Heat pumps are primarily designed for warmer climates, which is why they tend to require auxiliary heat fairly quickly. Most pumps will need additional help once the temperature outside starts to dip below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. By the time your outside temperatures dip below 30 degrees, it’s almost certain that you will need to have auxiliary heat in order to keep your home feeling toasty and warm.

Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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