Heat Pump Problems

7 Possible Heat Pump Problems During Winter

December 22, 2022

The Rouzerville, PA, climate is nearly perfect for using a heat pump to efficiently heat your home throughout the winter. However, just like other heating systems, they can run into problems that inhibit their ability to keep your home warm. Discover seven possible problems your heat pump could experience and what to do about them.

Iced-Up Unit

Ice is hard on a heat pump, often inhibiting air from flowing over the coils. This inhibits heat transfer from the outside air to the refrigerant and ultimately to the air inside.

Your unit may ice up for several reasons. One is that your system has a refrigerant leak, which prevents the system from achieving appropriate pressure. This then causes the outside coil to get too cold, which freezes the condensation that forms during the heating cycle.

One of the best methods for preventing heat pump icing is routine maintenance. A service technician will check your heat pump’s refrigerant level during your maintenance visit. If they find that it’s low, you have time to resolve the issue before it causes icing.

Blocked Coils

Blocked coils in either the inside or outside units can also pose problems with your heat pump. Blockages can come from any number of causes, most of which are fairly easy to solve.

Accumulated dirt and other contaminants on the coils is one of the most common. A service technician will clean the coils during routine maintenance to ensure there’s adequate airflow over them.

Damage to the coil can also cause them to become blocked. This damage causes the fins to bend, causing a physical barrier until a service technician straightens them out.

Finally, your outside coil can become blocked from brush, grass and other growth around the outside of the unit. Be sure to keep your outside unit clear of obstructions, with at least 24 inches clear on all sides.

Frequent Defrost Mode

Your heat pump senses when the outside coil’s temperature drops below freezing, which can cause it to ice up. When this happens, it triggers the defrost mode, which pushes refrigerant into the outside coils to warm them up.

While it’s normal for this to happen periodically, it can also signify an issue if it’s continually defrosting. You’ll need to have a service technician troubleshoot to find the underlying issue and repair it.

Faulty Reversing Valve

The reversing valve is the part of the heat pump that allows it to change between heating and cooling modes. The solenoid that controls the placement of the internal tubes can become damaged, preventing it from switching between the modes. Dealing with a stuck valve requires getting a professional heat pump repair to prevent accidental refrigerant discharge.

Too Cold Outside

The outside coil of your heat pump must get colder than the outside air temperature to absorb any heat. When the temperature gets too cold, it becomes ineffective without the use of some form of secondary heating source. Temperatures below freezing also increase the risk of your system freezing up.

Restricted Airflow

For your heat pump to work properly, it must circulate air into the system and push it back out. When anything restricts that airflow, it won’t heat your home effectively.

Start by keeping an eye on your air filter and change it when it gets dirty. Next, keep current on your routine maintenance. Your service technician will clean the circulating fan and the inside coil to ensure there aren’t internal restrictions.

Faulty Thermostat

Finally, your thermostat can also cause problems with your system running properly. A thermostat has an average service life of about 10 to 15 years, after which it may experience performance problems. These could include not registering an accurate temperature and not sending the proper signals to your heat pump.

If your thermostat is more than 10 years old, consider upgrading it to a newer model. A smart thermostat is a great option that gives you the most control, both in person and remotely.

Routine maintenance is one of the best ways to prevent many wintertime heat pump problems. Call to schedule your heat pump maintenance appointment with one of the NATE-certified service technicians at Hagerstown Heating & Cooling.

Image provided by iStock

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