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Why Your Payne Heat Pump Won’t Defrost And How To Fix It

Why Your Payne Heat Pump Won't Defrost And How To Fix It

Heat pump systems are capable of self-defrosting, however they can occasionally freeze up. Serious issues only surface when a heat pump freezes for more than four hours without appearing to be able to thaw itself.

The causes of your Payne heat pump not defrosting are summarized as follows:

  • The outside unit is blocked
  • External fan problems
  • Minimal refrigerant
  • The defrost timer is ineffective
  • Clogged filters
  • Filthy coils

Your heat pump’s defrost system frequently contains a timer that requires the compressor to run for a specific period of time before it starts a defrost cycle. The defrost system receives notification that the coil has frozen over from a defrost sensor linked to it.

Reasons A Heat Pump Does Not Defrost

When ice often, a Payne heat pump has to routinely defrost. The defrost option works well enough to quickly melt the ice without wasting time or energy heating the house. The main causes of your Payne heat pump not defrosting are listed below.

The Outside Unit Is Blocked

The ice may not melt if winter snowdrifts have accumulated around your outdoor appliance. Even more ice formation can result from the decreased airflow.

Snow should be routinely removed from the area surrounding the external unit. Never use a sharp object to chip at the ice while it is defrosting.

External Fan Problems

Air is moved over the coil containing the refrigerant by the fan in your outside unit, which is essential for the heat transfer process needed to heat or cool your home.

There won’t be much ventilation if your exterior fan is faulty, which could cause your outdoor unit to freeze over. In this case, have a professional inspect your outdoor fan motor.

Minimal Refrigerant

A refrigerant leak will cause insufficient heat transfer because refrigerant is necessary for heat transfer. Before the ice on the exterior unit melts, your heat pump will eventually run out of heat. If you suspect a refrigerant leak, never attempt to fix it yourself; always contact a professional.

Low refrigerant will put more strain on the many components of your heat pump. If you see a significant spike in your electrical costs, low refrigerant levels may be the cause. A heat pump may experience a wide range of issues as a result of a refrigerant leak.

The Defrost Timer Is Ineffective

Your appliance could also have a damaged defrost timer as a problem. The defrost setting on your heat pump is designed to run occasionally. If your defrost timer is malfunctioning, your unit is not defrosting as frequently as it should be, which results in ice buildup.

To melt the ice on the exterior unit throughout the winter, your heat pump will occasionally convert to the air conditioning setting. When in air conditioning mode, the external unit is heated, melting any frost or ice.

If the appliance is not defrosting, ice can build up very quickly.

Clogged Filters

Why Your Payne Heat Pump Won't Defrost  And How To Fix It

Filters that are dirty impede airflow, and coils that don’t receive enough air will freeze over. Ice builds up on the outer unit as a result of the coils’ inability to heat or cool properly when they freeze over.

Filthy Coils

If the coils are greasy or grimy, there can be no efficient heat transfer between the coils and the outside air. When the coils are unable to transfer heat to the air, the refrigerant inside of them becomes too cold, causing a film of ice to form on them.

As a result, your heat pump is unable to efficiently heat or cool. Additionally, the exterior unit cannot be successfully defrosted. The external unit’s icing worsens as a result.

How Should A Frozen Heat Pump Be Handled In The Winter?

Heat pumps may ice up over the winter, and in some instances, light ice or white frost covering the coil as a whole is anticipated. Rarely does the entire unit, including the top and the interior of the coil, remain completely covered in ice for an extended period of time. Here are a few options for resolving this issue:

  • Observe
  • Turn on the fan
  • Start the defrost cycle manually
  • Movement sensor

Iced heat pumps are an indication of a problem and should be addressed right once to save energy and prevent serious equipment damage. To determine when to enter defrost, various heat pumps employ different strategies. Let’s go over the list of potential reasons and remedies in more detail.

Indicators Of The Issue

For an extended period of time, the complete unit, including the top and inner coil, shouldn’t be covered in ice.

For optimum operation, the condensing fan motor must be able to draw air into and out of the unit through its fins. If it is unable to do this, your device is malfunctioning and not operating at its best. Here are some answers to this query.


The defrosting system on your heat pump, particularly if it is more recent, is probably in good functioning order and is currently thawing your system and getting it back up and running.

It may appear that there is a problem when there isn’t because the defrost mechanism occasionally just needs a little more time to work.

Turn On The Fan

Just turn on the fan to attempt to thaw it. If it’s quite frigid outdoors, switch the fan to the exhaust setting. Running the fan for a while won’t necessarily solve all problems and freeze problems, but it’s a temporary solution you can attempt.

Ice buildup may result from a fan that is damaged or completely dead, which prevents the machine from dissipating heat.

Start The Defrost Cycle Manually

Another choice is to manually start the defrost cycle. When the defrost cycle is initiated by flipping the valve to air conditioning mode, the outdoor fan is switched off and the outdoor evaporator is converted into a condenser.

An occasional defrost cycle is performed by a heat pump to prevent the buildup of frost. In effect, this transfers all of the heat from within your house outdoors through the condenser coils, melting the ice that has built up around the HVAC unit.

Movement Sensor

The third self-help solution is to move the temperature sensor on the heat pump unit’s exterior.

Your heat pump must work harder to melt the ice when there is frost. If the sensor is in direct sunlight or is otherwise warmer than the rest of the device, the defrost cycle could not last long enough.

Can Hot Water Be Used To Defrost My Heat Pump?

Why Your Payne Heat Pump Won't Defrost  And How To Fix It

Pouring hot water on a frozen heat pump is one of the finest ways to thaw it out. The hot water will remove the ice, allowing your heat pump to operate more effectively. It would be wise to make an effort to melt the ice. You risk damaging the pump if you attempt to physically separate it.

As the temperature approaches freezing, ice formation on the coils or in the refrigerant tubing is possible. To counteract unexpected cold spells, your heat pump type may provide a defrost cycle. Read on as we go further into this subject.

Why Is Pouring Hot Water On A Freezing Heat Pump Okay?

We don’t recommend physically breaking up the ice because doing so could harm some of the pump’s more delicate components. This might easily and quickly ruin your pump. Here’s how to defrost a frozen heat pump using hot water.

Determine The Temperature Of The Water

You can test its temperature by sticking your finger in it to see if the ice will melt. If the object is steaming, somewhat burns, and would be appropriate for soup, you may continue.

Heat pumps are made to work with heat, so you don’t have to worry about the pump becoming damaged by the hot water.

Utilize A Hose

Pour hot or warm water over your heat pump to get rid of any snow and ice. In some somewhat frigid places, you can even use cold water from a hose.


Your Payne heat pump may fail to defrost for a number of reasons. A refrigerant leak, a clogged filter, or unclean coils are just a few examples of the things that could be preventing heat transmission from happening as it should.

If you need to shut the system down to prevent further harm, ask a professional for assistance.

Why Your Payne Heat Pump Won't Defrost  And How To Fix It

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Written by HVAC Contributor

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