In the coldest part of the night, you want to count on your heat pump to keep the house warm. All too often, however, that's exactly when the heat pump freezes up. You might notice it running constantly without putting out warm air or it might stop running altogether. No matter which symptom you see, you need to do something right away to get your heat pump working properly again.

Check Your Air Filter Inside 

The first thing to check when you realize that your heat pump isn't working the way that it should is your internal air filter. When your air filter is dirty, the air can't flow properly through the unit, causing it to overtax itself trying to catch up. This is why manufacturers recommend changing or cleaning your air filters every month, whether it looks like it's needed or not. Make a note on your calendar on a set day each month to handle the task and then you never need to wonder whether it's been done or not.

Check the Unit Outside

Just as the air flow inside can get blocked, it can get blocked outside, too. Any grass, leaves, snow, or ice that block the air intakes on the outside unit contribute to heat pump problems. Shovel snow away from the unit and clear away any other debris. If there is ice around, in, or on the heat pump, don't use anything like a hammer to beat the ice away. Instead, pour water over the unit to defrost the ice faster. Sometimes the unit might have water collected inside that has frozen and that can take more time to defrost.

Try a Manual Defrost

If there is too much snow or other inclement weather to safely go outside, try performing a manual defrost. Turn the heat pump off completely and leave it off for a few minutes. Afterward, turn the air to cool for at least a minute. Turn everything off again for another few minutes and then set the system back to heat. If the unit continues to frost up, be sure to call a repairman as soon as possible.

If your heat pump isn't working properly anymore, it may be time for an upgrade. Contact an HVAC contractor (such as Benson's Heating and Air Conditioning) who can help you to find the right system for your home. Before you know it, you'll be up and running again and middle-of-the-night issues will be a thing of the past.