What I'm Seeing Now

head_left_image

The Heat Pump Was Looking Like It Is Covered In Ice

Going into the house it was uncomfortably cool and the thermostat was set at 72F and the clients asked me what was wrong.

I suggested the heat pump wasn't working right or the filter might be exceptionally dirty. 

So we looked out the back window.

The heat pump was looking like it was covered in ice.

It was having a problem with its

DEFROST CYCLE.

This time of year if there is a problem with a heat pump system, this might be how it manifests itself.

My CEU classes and reading tell me that this can occur at 40F and below, depending on humidity.  It was near freezing outdoors that day, so conditions were proper.

A heat pump is essentially an air conditioner that can work backwards.  During the heating cycle a heat pump extracts heat from outside and transfers it indoors.

At 40F and below moisture in outdoor air will freeze on the compressors' components.  The unit is supposed to recognize this and go into a defrost cycle  mode for 2-10 minutes to eliminate the ice. 

If that mode does not work right, the ice will build up.  With ice comes less air movement, affects the heating cycle and can damage the unit.  Seeing the ice forming means that a professional service is needed.  There are many things to evaluate.

What's wrong?  A bad defrost timer, a bad thermostat or relay, a stuck reversing valve or solenoid (electromagnetic) coil, the outdoor fan motor, or a bad charge are some of the reasons.  A clogged gutter draining onto the unit or the unit being too close to the ground can affect this as well, so those things might also need attention!  And this according to CEU information! 

See, I am not an HVAC professional!  But I am a professional home inspector and I try to learn stuff!

I checked to see if the filter was dirty and there was no filter present!  So, um, well, like, yeah, that wasn't the problem!  Maybe no filtration made the system so dirty it contributed though!

In short, this unit needs immediate attention!

My recommendation:  as I said, home inspectors try to learn stuff!  Actually they have to learn a lot of stuff in a lot of different areas of construction and other knowledge!  Of course the learning is never ending and no home inspector can keep up with it all.  But still, the effort is on to learn stuff!  So call a home inspector when you buy a house!  Call a real bull dog home inspector.  They bite best.

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 23 commentsJay Markanich • December 22 2014 04:04AM

Comments

Good morning Jay,

With proper maintanance anything mechanical should not have a problem; what were they saving with no filter a nickel or two!

Make yourself a great day.

Posted by Raymond E. Camp, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson Greater Rochester (Howard Hanna Real Estate Services) almost 5 years ago

Maybe someone noticed that the filter was really clogged and thought to "fix" the problem Raymond!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

wow - no filter! I'm sure that helped the situation. Regular maintenance is a great idea with HVAC systems.

Posted by Jeanne Dufort, Madison and Lake Oconee GA (Coldwell Banker Lake Country) almost 5 years ago

I actually find that a lot Jeanne.  The filter gets dirty with nobody attending it for a long time, or simply a lack of homeowner maintenance.  Then the agent, or somebody, removes the filter because they see it is so dirty.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

I am not an HVAC expert but I know that when the unit freezes up like this (at any time of year) I call an expert Jay Markanich . They seem to get things corrected quickly.

Posted by Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366, General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage (Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366) almost 5 years ago

Freezing is an easy indicator Tom!  And being cold inside wasn't a bad clue either...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

Jay, from the look of the photo, it appears that the pump has been built into a well over the years and very little air can circulate around it as well.

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 ) almost 5 years ago

Correct Ed.  And it could be that this has contributed to the problem.  The deck and shed were built around it.  The unit is 11 years old.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

Oh yeah, that doesn't sound good at all.  Maybe it's just time for a new one.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) almost 5 years ago

Oh, and you reminded me that I need to buy new filters.  Thx.  Will do later in the week (when I'm feeling better).

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) almost 5 years ago

It really depends on maintenance Debbie, as this unit has not reached its normal economic life span, but it also may be shot.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

Size them carefully and cover the slot once installed!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

That's not a heat pump... it's a snow cone maker! I hope you got your favorite flavor while you were there :-)

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) almost 5 years ago

I bring the sluices with me Fred.  My faves - black licorice, lemon and banana creme.

I'm running low on the little paper cones though.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

A black licorice snow cone? Can't say I've tried that one.... doesn't sound that good to me. You Virginia people will try anything! :-)

 

I have never seen a heat pump that frozen up, but see the ice on the coolant lines quite frequently. I had an HVAC guy tell me that the refrigerant level can affect that as well, being low. I dunno, like you, I always refer an expert!

 

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) almost 5 years ago

Fred - when I was a teen black licorice was my favorite flavor at 31 Flavors.  They dropped it because it was unpopular!  Go figure...

It was my favorite flavor of all time. 

That was in Maryland, by the way.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

I bet ya the unit hasn't been checked since they have owned the home.  Didn't read all the comments but that's my guess

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty) almost 5 years ago

Could be James, but all I know is it will surely get checked now!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

The unit seems to be in a cramped location, uncared for. That sure doesn't help. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) almost 5 years ago

Sounds like attention before it needs replacement...yicks !  A very very Merry Christmas Jay Markanich....and a heaping helping of thanks for all you contribute to the Rain !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) almost 5 years ago

Need'm breathe'm for sure Jim.  It's been in that location for a while though, so that isn't a recent problem.

S&D - thanks guys.  Same back at you.  Probably needs attention, and maybe a lot.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

I am not a fan of heat pumps, but they are needed. No filter...duh!!

Posted by Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®, Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate (Vision Quest Realty) almost 5 years ago

Sometimes when it isn't working and it's really dirty or there is no filter you can surmise why Rebecca!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

This blog does not allow anonymous comments