In winter, you may notice condensation around your heat pump. This is a normal part of its operation. While running in heating mode, the unit transfers heat energy from outside to inside your home. In the process, condensation can form on the outdoor unit and drip harmlessly to the ground. Below, we’ll explain how heat pumps condensate in heating mode and when to suspect there is a problem.

How Condensate Forms on a Heat Pump

Heat pumps are designed to operate in cold weather, but problems can develop if the air temperature gets very cold. Frost or ice can develop on the outdoor coils at temperatures below 32℉. The system will then not warm your home as effectively. 

However, the system is designed to prevent ice from thickening on the coils and potentially causing damage. It will automatically begin a defrost cycle. Melted ice from the coil will drip and can form a pool of water around the unit. Eventually, this will freeze over.

Once defrost mode is initiated, the outdoor and indoor fans will turn off. The outdoor unit, however, will still be running, so you’ll hear it. Vapor may come from the unit as well. This usually lasts about a minute. Depending on the model, the defrost cycle will run for 5 to 10 minutes and repeat every half hour to 90 minutes.

Heat Pump Condensation In Summer

Water can pool around the heat pump when it’s cooling your home too. This may occur on a hot, humid day. As humid air is drawn across the cold copper coils, condensation forms and drains off. The condensate drain line will carry this water outside your home. It can drain up to 20 gallons per day.

When Is Condensation a Problem?

There’s generally no cause for concern if a condensation puddle happens in the grass. The water should absorb into the ground or evaporate. But if there’s no sunlight in that location, the water may not drain or evaporate so easily. There may also be issues if the puddle forms on a sidewalk or walkway. Somebody can slip and get hurt while standing water can cause damage to the surface. Mold and algae can also grow if a surface remains damp.

How Do I Know It’s a Leak?

An evaporator coil can freeze if the refrigerant gets too cold due to a leak. Unlike condensation water, refrigerant can be harmful to human health, heat pump components, and the environment. Signs of a refrigerant leak include hissing or bubbling noises, which are caused by differences in pressurization. The heating output will likely decline if the refrigerant is leaking; you can identify a problem by seeing whether the heat pump takes longer to warm up your home. 

At room temperature, the refrigerant returns to its liquid form. It will look like a greasy film. If you see this on the outdoor unit or around it, assume there’s a refrigerant leak and first, turn the unit off, and then call a heat pump repair technician right away. Running the system if it’s leaking wastes energy and will increase your electric bill.

A refrigerant leak can cause ice to collect on the coils. Melting ice can create puddles that can be mistaken for normal condensation. There could be a drainage issue as well. A misaligned or blocked drain line, or rusted condensate pan, can lead to more water than usual pooling around the unit.

Call Tri County Air for Heat Pump Repair

Heat pumps do condensate in heating mode, but it’s important to periodically check for issues. At Tri County Air, we specialize in high-quality heat pump/furnace repair. Using state-of-the-art diagnostic tools, we can quickly find the source of a problem and offer many solutions to fixing just about anything. Professional repairs can improve system health, comfort, and energy efficiency. To schedule service, request an appointment online or call 941 485-2222 today.