Heat Pumps and Common Problems

Heat pumps, common problems, trouble shooting and when you should call a professional to service the system.  A heat pump is a unique device that transfers heat energy from a source of heat to what is called a thermal reservoir.  

When a heat pump goes on the fritz it could be for several reasons:

The heat pump is freezing

Even running at minimal capacity, a heat pump can develop frost or ice on the outdoor coils, but more commonly this happens when the device is trying to maintain comfortable temperatures inside the house when it’s extremely cold outside.  When the system detects ice, it temporarily switches to cooling mode to reverse the refrigerant’s flow through the coils.  In cooling mode, the hot refrigerant flows through the outer coils to defrost the system. 

If you notice that your heat pump is icing up, call a professional HVAC repairman.   This will stop any further damage to the unit and ensure that you don’t have to spend any nights without heat. 

Why your heat pump is icing up:

  • Low refrigerant levels
  • A reversing valve that is sticking
  • A bad defrost thermostat or sensor
  • A faulty defrost relay
  • Damaged or faulty outdoor fan motors

While waiting to have your system serviced, here are a few helpful tips:

  • Make sure the HVAC air filter is not clogged or damaged. Filters should be checked and replaced regularly.
  • Make sure nothing is obstructing air vents such as furniture, boxes, appliances or dust build up.
  • Make sure all leaves, snow, dirt and plant foliage are not blocking the outside vent’s airflow or obstructing the outdoor coil.
  • Keep gutters cleaned so that they are not overflowing and dripping water into the unit.

Other Problems

Check the heat pump’s user guide for troubleshooting basic issues.  If the heat pump continues to go on the fritz call a professional HVAC company to have the device inspected.  Keep in mind, if the system needs to be replaced it may take several days so don’t wait until the dead of winter.   If the unit is more than ten years old, more than likely it needs to be upgraded.  Don’t despair, the newer units are more energy efficient which means lower utility bills. 

For your heating and air conditioning needs, turn to Polar Heating and Refrigeration.  Contact Us Today to learn more about the benefits and comfort of using heat pumps for your heating needs!