Have steam coming from your outdoor unit? You aren’t alone and you usually don’t need to worry! It’s common and part of the process for your system to run correctly.
Homeowners often mistake the water vapor rising off their heat pump system for smoke. Trust us, your system and/or fan motor is not burning up and there is no cause of concern. We know that it can be easily mistaken as a real issue because of the steam and often the louder than normal running noise. It’s actually your system just going into defrost mode.
What is defrost mode?
Defrost happens during the coldest of winter months. Typically in moist conditions the outdoor coils will tend to frost or ice-up during the winter months causing the unit to lose efficiency. When this happens the system is designed to kick into defrost mode. This allows the system to defrost itself; keeping the coil clear allowing proper air flow, keeping your system running efficiently.
How does it do that?
A couple of things happen when your system kicks into defrost mode. First, the outdoor fan motor will stop running to help build-up more pressure and heat to melt the ice. In addition, the reversing valve will shift into air conditioning mode. I know what you’re thinking, air conditioning mode in the winter? Yes, it’s actually running in a/c mode. This allows warm refrigerant gas to pass through the coil causing the defrosting effect. Don’t worry you still won’t feel cold air blowing from your registers. The supplemental heat at the indoor unit is energized to offset the cold air.
Yes, it is a bit bizarre that your system will run in a/c mode and back-up heat simultaneously. But, it typically takes only a few minutes or less to complete the process. Your system should only go into defrost mode periodically unless we are experiencing sever weather conditions like snow or sleet.
Still think there may be a problem?
If you notice your system going into defrost regularly? If you notice your unit is constantly kicking into defrost mode you should make a service call for repair to avoid a total breakdown. Making a service call with R. A. Styron is quick and easy. With over 60+ years of Hampton Roads Heating experience we are confidant and capable to handle any HVAC problem you may be facing. Don’t wait until your sitting in a cold house!