Where you have an outdoor condenser installed will greatly impact how well it operate during the winter. The proper spacing and positioning of the unit will greatly affect how well the air is circulated as it’s drawn through the unit. Leaving enough room in the right areas will help prevent snow or ice from building up on the unit.
If you are able to, you should try placing the unit under an overhang or some sort of roofing. This is a great way to shelter the unit from snow and ice. However, you have to make sure that there’s adequate clearance above the unit, otherwise, it may not operate correctly. It’s also a best practice to elevate the unit so that it’s high enough off the ground to stay above anticipated snowfall.
Improving Heating Function in Cold Climates
When running your mini split for heating purposes, it can be normal for frost to build up on the outdoor coil. In order to remove the frost and maintain optimal performance of the mini-split, the condenser must periodically switch to a defrost mode. As the frost melts, it drips into a drain pan.
If you are in an area with extremely cold conditions, then the dripping water may freeze before it has a chance to escape the drain pan. Over time, this buildup of ice can get thick enough to freeze the fan blades to the pan. Another problem that can occur is frozen water getting between the fins of the coil, expanding, and cracking it.
Repairs associated with ice build-up in a drain pan can cost as much as $1,000 or more. To prevent this kind of damage, it is strongly recommended to use a mini split drain pan heater for heating in areas that experience subfreezing temperatures.
A drain pan heater will rest in the drain pan and plugs directly into the control board of the outdoor condenser. The control board signals the heater to turn on automatically in conditions where freezing is likely.
This prevents water from freezing in the drain pan and protects the condenser from damage. Just keep in mind that drain pan heaters are specific to both brand and condenser model.
The team at TNC Mechanical Cooling & Heating, Inc. in Monson, MA., is ready to assist. Serving clients throughout Western MA, the family-owned company offers a wide range of HVAC services. Visit us online for more information or call (888) 284-3892 to schedule an appointment.