The cool thing about heat pumps: they serve a dual purpose. Although their name is deceiving, these special HVAC systems can actually cool your home as well as warm it up! The weather rarely gets super cold here in Florida, but it sure does get hot. A heat pump will keep your home comfortable, regardless of the temperature.
Heat pumps are growing in popularity because of their eco-friendly efficiency. As efficient and convenient as they are, they can still face issues (like any piece of equipment). In this post, our HVAC experts share how a heat pump works and troubleshooting tips to get a struggling one back in business!
How Do Heat Pumps Work?
If you start having any kind of HVAC problems, it’s always a smart idea to contact a professional so you don’t waste your time, money, and sanity and potentially make matters worse. However, if you’re curiously determined to diagnose the issue before your technician arrives, you first need to know how a heat pump works.
The following two main types of heat pumps operate using the same principle. Instead of burning fuel to make heat, they more efficiently transfer heat from one place to another.
Air Source Heat Pumps
These pumps move heat back and forth between the outdoors and inside of your home, depending on your desired temperature.
Ductless air source heat pumps require only a small hole in the wall to connect the indoor and outdoor units. Ducted heat pumps provide greater control with one powerful central unit that impacts the entire home.
Ground Source Heat Pumps
These pumps shift heat between your indoor air and the ground outside. It works using the same basic principle, but may be more useful in cold climates where heat is better stored in the ground.
9 Common Heat Pump Problems & Their Causes
Over time, your heat pump may develop issues due to normal wear and tear. They may stop working properly for a variety of reasons, which is why your best bet is to call a pro – trust us.
Potential challenges you may run into are:
1. Your Heat Pump is Running Constantly
Being surprised by sky-high energy bills is never pleasant, and might be the result of your heat pump running at full blast 24/7. This could be due to:
- Improper thermostat settings
- Dirty air filters
- Broken compressor contactor
- Dirty coils
- Refrigerant Leak
- Improper sizing
2. Your Heat Pump Isn’t Running at All
If your AC stops running altogether, that’s something you need to take care of ASAP in our Sunshine State.
- Broken thermostat
- Loss of power
- Closed registers
- Dirty air filters
- Broken starter capacitor
- Faulty reversing valve
3. Your Unit is Frozen
Several issues can lead to a frozen AC unit, which can indicate significant issues and should be handled immediately, as it could cause permanent damage. The layer of ice prevents heat from transferring between the indoors and outdoors.
One common reason for a frozen heat pump is a blocked or malfunctioning fan. A fan that isn’t operating correctly can restrict airflow, causing the unit to freeze up. Another possible culprit could be dirty coils.
Dirt buildup on the coils will hamper their ability to transfer heat effectively, leading to freezing issues in the unit.
Refrigerant levels are also an important factor to consider when dealing with a frozen heat pump. If there is not enough refrigerant in the system, it will struggle to operate efficiently, leading to freezing problems.
As you can already see (and we’re only on #3), heat pump problems can get really complex very quickly. If you’re having issues with your system, call on a pro you can count on.
4. The Indoor Air Handler Isn’t Working
An air handler is responsible for distributing air throughout your home. If your outdoor unit seems to be working but you aren’t getting any air, it’s likely an issue with your indoor air handler’s activation.
This could include:
- Tripped circuit breaker
- Bad wiring
- Blown blower motor – this is the worst-case scenario
5. Your Heat Pump Won’t Cool
It’ll definitely put a damper on your day if you get stuck with no cool air in our muggy heat. Issues with your heat pump struggling to cool could point to a few potential culprits.
One of the most common causes of this problem is thermostat issues. If your thermostat is malfunctioning or not communicating correctly with your heat pump, it may not be able to trigger the cooling process properly. Be sure to check your thermostat settings and replace the batteries if necessary.
6. Heat Pump Won’t Switch Between Heating and Cooling
Another possible cause for a heat pump not cooling could be an issue with the reversing valve. It could prevent switching between heating and cooling. This valve controls whether refrigerant flows through the system for heating or cooling purposes.
If it becomes stuck in one position, it can prevent proper cooling from occurring.
A professional technician needs to adjust or replace the reversing valve to get things back on track.
7. Heat Pump is Short Cycling
Short cycling happens when your heat pump constantly shuts off too soon after it’s turned on. This could be from:
- An improperly sized unit
- Overheating from dirty air filters
- Refrigerant leaks
- Improperly calibrated thermostat
8. Your Unit is Leaking
Signs of water damage are never a welcome sight. Moldy sights and smells near your unit likely indicate a leak. Definitely don’t ignore this. It could not only cause hazardous decay but could also lead to electrical damage and fires!
9. Weird Smells
Moldy smells may accompany a leak, but there are plenty of other smells that shouldn’t be ignored. Any musty odors, rotting, animal smells, or burning scents warrant an urgent call to a company like ACHV Services. Don’t put it off!
Learn More > What to Do if Your AC Freezes Up
Get Pumped with ACHV Services
Heat pumps are wonderful, versatile appliances that could very well suit your needs. But, like any other electric appliance, they are imperfect and sometimes need a little extra care. Fortunately, with regularly scheduled maintenance, you can avoid many of the above-mentioned issues.
No matter what kind of HVAC problem you’re dealing with, you should call in an expert ASAP. It will likely save you a ton of time, money, and frustration. There’s a reason people hire 5-star companies like us to get the job done!