Will low refrigerant cause a heat pump to freeze?

Ductless mini-split and conventional heat pumps are terrific ways to heat and cool your home. They're energy efficient, versatile, and cost comparable to regular air conditioning systems. For many homeowners, a heat pump is the only HVAC tool they'll need to stay comfortable all year long. So, the last thing they want to find on their heat pump coil is ice build up. "Icing", as it is sometimes called, either indicates a problem or will soon be the source of one. Conventional wisdom says low refrigerant is to blame.

Is that true or is the culprit something else?

A Frozen Heat Pump is a Bad Heat Pump

Aside from it being unsightly, there is good reason you don't want ice building up on your heat pump coils.

The first is corrosion. As you might imagine, being encased in a block of ice doesn't do much to help the long term durability of copper. A regular icing problem is going to seriously degrade equipment life. If you didn't have a leak before, you're much more likely to develop one in a frozen coil.

The second problem is efficiency. Anything that obstructs the air moving around the coils can degrade operating efficiency. This is bad if you like money. If you don't, then no worries. However, the rest of us should fix an icing problem ASAP to avoid running up a big utility bill.

I Got 99 Problems, and Low Refrigerant Might Legit Be One

So, what is causing our frozen heat pump coil?

One very common cause is low refrigerant. Which probably means there is a leak somewhere. This is a problem that needs to get fixed. Not only do you have the icing issue, but refrigerant isn't free. The more refrigerant that escapes, the more you have to pay to get it refilled back up to spec.

Fortunately, there may be less expensive reasons for icing on a coil. The coils might just be too dirty. Ice on a coil can disrupt air flow, but disrupted air flow can also cause icing. It's a vicious cycle. So, if there is a lot of dirt and debris, that could be the issue.

Have you ever had an icy heat pump coil? If so, let us know in the comments below.

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