How Snow & Ice Affect Your HVAC Unit

Posted On: March 9, 2022

As enjoyable as fresh snow may be to look at it the Ogden area, it can significantly impact the performance of your HVAC system and its condition.

Whether you’re using a heat pump or a furnace to heat your home, or you have an air conditioning unit that needs protection during the off-season, here are the ways snow and ice can affect your HVAC unit and a few tips to help protect them.

Remove the Snow Around Your HVAC Unit

Any snow that accumulates on or around the outdoor unit of a heat pump or air conditioner can pose a problem. It can block airflow to the heat pump, causing it to freeze and stop heating your home. On an AC unit, the snow can melt and refreeze as temperatures change, expanding between the delicate fins of the condenser coil and damaging them.

Carefully remove snow from the top of the HVAC unit and keep a two-foot area around it clear of snow. Consider adding a fence to block drifting and wind-blown snow, and install a vinyl cover over an AC unit during the off-season to keep out moisture. Do not cover a heat pump, as it needs airflow to operate.

Keep Furnace Intake & Vent Clear

Highly efficient, condensing gas furnaces extract much of the heat from the exhaust to heat your home, leaving behind relatively cool exhaust gases that can safely use a PVC pipe as a vent. This means the vent is usually lower to the ground than conventional roof-top flues, and if there’s enough snow, the vent and the combustion-air intake for the furnace can be blocked.

An obstructed vent could lead to carbon monoxide accumulation in the home, while a blocked intake could prevent the burners from firing or result in reduced airflow that harms the efficiency of your system.

Know where the intake and exhaust are for your furnace and your water heater, and keep those areas clear. In most cases, the pipes will be located high enough that snow accumulation is of minimal concern.

Prevent Icicle Damage

Icicles often form at the eaves of a home as moisture thaws and refreezes. As sharp as they are, if an icicle breaks off and falls into the condenser unit of your heat pump or air conditioner, it could stop the fan from spinning, or it could pierce the aluminum coils, leading to a refrigerant leak and costly repairs.

Watch your eaves and gutters for ice formation, and if icicles start to accumulate, carefully remove them in the area over the condenser unit.

Monitor the Defrost Cycle of Your Heat Pump

During cold weather, a heat pump will occasionally switch into AC mode to melt any frost or ice from the outside coil. When this cycle fails to run properly, the outdoor unit can freeze up and leave you without heating.

Monitor the defrost cycle to make sure it works properly, and if you notice any ice building on the outdoor coils, call a professional HVAC contractor for troubleshooting and repairs.

HVAC Repair & Maintenance in Ogden, UT

Do you need help winterizing your HVAC system? Has your system been damaged by snow and ice? Call our team at Mountain Air Conditioning & Heating.

We have served Ogden, Utah, and the surrounding communities since 1954, and we offer exceptional service characterized by skilled, NATE-certified HVAC technicians, accurate diagnostics, upfront pricing, and stress-free HVAC repairs.

Our company is locally owned and operated, and we stand behind our work with pride and integrity.

Call (801) 416-2215 today or contact us online for heating and air conditioning services in the Ogden area.