1/3/2018 1:00 PM

The Dangers Of Snow & Ice On Outdoor Condensers & Furnace Vents

You have insulated the pipes in your plumbing, you have programmed your thermostat, you have changed your air filter, and you have added seals around your doors and windows to protect your home from air drafts. That first snowfall hits and your heater isn’t working efficiently. What could be wrong? Did you remember to check your outdoor condenser and furnace vents to make sure they’re not blocked by snowdrifts?

If you have a high-efficiency gas furnace or a heat pump, double-checking that snowdrifts or ice buildup isn’t creating issues is a MUST!

Furnace Vent Blockages

If you have a high-efficiency gas furnace heating your home (which is what most homes in the Midwest have installed), then you have to make sure that the vents to the outside are clear of any blockages. If your furnace vent isn’t through a chimney on your roof, you’ll need to look for a lateral vent for both the air intake and the exhaust.

After each heavy snowfall or windstorm that may cause snow drifts to move around, make sure to check these vents for all blockages. The vents will most likely appear as white plastic pipes coming from the side of your home. If the fresh air intake pipe is blocked, it will severely reduce your energy efficiency. But, more importantly, if your exhaust pipe is blocked, you’ll be leaving your home open to the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Blockages Around Heat Pumps

If your home has a heat pump installed, you’ll need to check and make sure the outdoor unit isn’t covered in a mound of snow or buried under a snowdrift, or that there isn’t snow pressed up against the grill, which will block the refrigerant coil from absorbing heat.

NOTE: It is normal to see a small bit of ice developing along the outdoor coil. A defrost cycle will melt this off in an hour or so.

Protecting Your Outdoor System Before A Snowfall

If the snow hasn’t fallen yet, you can create a canopy or freestanding shelter for your unit. This will also improve efficiency in the summer by providing some shade! Do not cover the units directly!

Worried that your home may not be as prepared for winter as it should be?

Check out our other recent blog posts:


For over 25 years, ServiceOne has been trusted to provide top-notch sales and service to homes and businesses in the Omaha/Council Bluffs metro area and in Dubuque, Iowa. With over 90 employees standing by to help you, you can always trust us to deliver 100% satisfactory service. We offer Home Warranty & Service Agreements, HVAC services, Plumbing services, Electrical services, Appliance Repair, and also help with Generators and Home & Business Automation. For more information about our services, contact us today!

Previous Page