How to Protect Your HVAC System from Snow & Ice This Winter

Dec 21, 2020

While HVAC systems are made to be sturdy and durable, they are no match for the havoc that the twin elements of snow and ice can unleash, which means it’s vital that you protect your HVAC.  Weather experts are predicting colder, wetter weather this winter in Washington State.  That makes this an opportune time to plan for protecting your HVAC system so they continue to keep you warm and comfortable in your home.

Airflow is critical for HVACs to operate properly. An HVAC unit that is caked in ice or buried in snow could sustain damage and probably not work correctly when you need it most. Your HVAC system could freeze or shutdown when bombarded with the most extreme winter weather. 

Here are some recommendations for protecting your HVAC during the harsh winter weather. 

Ice and Snow Proofing Your HVAC Unit

Do Not Allow Snow and Ice to Build Up

The best way to protect your HVAC from damage resulting from snow and ice build-up is to maintain a clear space along the perimeter of your unit.  We recommend clearing a space that is at least 18 inches all around the unit. What’s more, keep the top and sides of the unit uncovered. When you remove the ice from your unit, try not to use sharp objects so you don’t damage the coils and fins. 

Do Not Block the Exhaust

Lots of snow can obstruct the exhaust of your furnace and prevent the unit from operating. Another consequence of a blocked exhaust is that carbon monoxide could begin seeping into your home. That could cause major health problems for you and your loved ones. Although most furnace systems come equipped with safety measures in case the exhaust is blocked, it is preferable to be as safe as possible. 

Clearing Your Heat Pump Condenser

When you shovel snow or ice around your heat pump condenser, be careful not to touch the condenser with the shovel. Condensers are equipped with delicate fins.  Some are shielded with a metal grid. These fins need to remain clear of debris, snow, and ice and undamaged in order to work properly. The fins are how the condenser transfers heat. So treat this piece of equipment with care. 

Furnace Care

As you clear snow and ice from your heat pump condenser, pay special attention to your furnace air intake pipes or vents. If your vent is covered in snow, you are preventing your furnace from the air it requires for combustion. A blocked outdoor intake and exhaust pipe could cause your furnace to repetitively try to start up, but because it doesn’t turn on, nothing happens.  You can remedy this quickly and easily by clearing the snow from the intake and exhaust pipe. Also, turn the furnace off, and wait a minute and then turn it back on. The unit will then reset. 

You can find the intake or exhaust pipe and vent by going to the furnace and looking for a black or white pipe – not the metal heating ducts – going from the furnace to an outside wall. Afterward, go outside to the area where they are exiting the house. For a majority of houses, they will stick out a few inches from the basement wall. The pipes may extend along the side of the house and have a curve near the end. Then, clear the snow from the area after you locate the vent. 

Remember to change the furnace filter frequently, and it should be more often for the winter season when the furnace is continually operating. Neglecting your furnace filter can mean your HVAC system works harder, resulting in higher energy costs. 

In essence, make sure you keep the area around your HVAC unit clear year-round so it can breathe and function properly.

Considering winterizing your HVAC yourself? Be sure to read our article on How to Winterize your HVAC System!


Protect your HVAC System by Looking to Apollo Heating and Air Conditioning for Expert Service

Look to the HVAC experts at Apollo to ensure your energy system is in excellent condition for the winter season.  We are committed to delivering premium quality HVAC service, maintenance, products, and documentation in Kennewick, Pasco, Richland, and beyond! 

Learn more by contacting Apollo Heating and Air Conditioning! Call us at (509) 396-COLD (2653).