It’s that time of year, when our homes’ heating systems are being pushed and tested daily by frigid outdoor temperatures.
That also means that it is the time of year when our heating systems could fail due to the extra stress.
That certainly includes homes that have a heat pump. And while heat pumps have an outstanding track record of service, providing years of comfort, they are not always perfect, and it is important to know the signs of – and how to address – certain problems that could crop up with your heat pump.
The most common heat pump repair issues include power concerns, freezing up, blower issues, noises and improper heating, cooling, and cycling.
Let’s break down each one of these issues and look at some simple steps you may take to try and correct the issue. However, be forewarned, there are some corrections that simply require an in-depth knowledge of HVAC systems and mean that you’ll need to call a professional repair service. With that in mind, it is always a good idea to have a contractor’s number handy – one that you trust to perform repairs and service.
With that out of the way, let’s look at some of the simplest heat pump fixes first:
If your heat pump is not running at all, it is either the fault of the thermostat — or the unit is not receiving power.
In order to be sure that the pump is receiving power take these steps:
- Make sure your thermostat is set to “heat” and that it is on a comfortable temperature. (Yes, this may seem overly simplistic, however, you’d be surprised how often the thermostat can accidentally be switched off of normal heat.)
- Be sure the heat pump is receiving power by checking the two circuit breakers that protect the air handler and heat pump condenser. These breakers may have tripped and need to be flipped back on.
- Next, check the main electrical panel and any subpanels that supply power to the unit. These have their own circuit breakers.
- Many heat pumps have electrical elements that provide supplemental heat. Ensure these elements’ circuit breakers or fuses have not tripped or blown. They are usually located inside the air handler cabinet.
NOTE: If you correct any of these issues, turn on your heat pump and breakers/fuses immediately trip/blow again, there is probably a short in the electrical system providing power to the heat pump. DO NOT try to diagnose this issue on your own. Call a professional contractor.
Also, in extreme cold, the heat pump may need to draw extra power in order to meet your thermostat’s needs. This could cause a power surge, leading to a tripped breaker.
If you hear any squealing or grinding noises from your unit, please shut off the unit immediately and call a heat pump repair technician. These noises generally indicate that the pump motor’s bearings are worn out and must be replaced.
If you experience rattling noises when the pump runs, check that the unit’s cover panels are screwed on tight.
Any pinging or popping sounds could actually be coming from the ductwork – warm air causes them to expand ever so slightly; or there could be a loose piece of metal in the ducts. If you can locate the source of the noise in the duct, make a small dent in the sheet metal to provide a more rigid surface. This will make the ducts less likely to make noise or move as hot air moves through them.
HEAT PUMP NOT HEATING CORRECTLY
If you have a heat pump, you know that it does not pump out hot air – they are not designed to work like furnaces. But you will feel the right level of warmth throughout your home – and your thermostat should display as such.
If, however, you are not comfortable, take the following steps:
- Be sure your thermostat is set to the proper temperature. If it is, try raising the set temperature by five degrees. Wait a few minutes for the heat to come on and see if it begins to make a difference.
- Check that the supply and return vents in all of your rooms are open. Improper air circulation is critical in any HVAC situation.
- Check the heat pump filter. If it is dirty or in need of replacing do so. You should replace your system once a quarter for optimal results. If it becomes clogged with dirt and debris, your system will not function properly.
- Some heat pumps have auxiliary heating elements. Check to see that those are working properly.
If these steps do not solve the problem, you could be facing a failed blower or other more detailed problems. In these cases, it is best to call an expert.
NOTE: Heat pumps occasionally must defrost to prevent icing up. When this happens, the unit may temporarily put out cold air. Do not panic, as it will only last for a brief period.
A heat pump can easily ice-up in really cold weather, if it does, its defrost cycle should kick on periodically to melt the ice (as discussed directly above). However, if the condenser unit freezes and does not defrost, turn the whole unit off and then make sure no return-air registers are blocked. Also, check the filter to make sure it is not clogged and in need of replacement.
When a heat pump turns off and on frequently, the unit may overheat if its filter is clogged. The culprit could also be a malfunctioning blower. In order to rule simple fixes out, follow these steps:
- Check your thermostat settings and make sure it is set for optimum comfort temperatures.
- When room temperatures rise or drop lower than the set temperature on the thermostat, the problem is usually the heat anticipator in the thermostat, which will require thermostat repair.
Professional Heat Pump Repair is a Call Away
If you attempt any and/or all of these heat pump repair fixes to no avail, please know that professional, immediate service is just a phone call away.
Our NATE-certified technicians are trained in brand new but are also familiar with older technologies – which is a must in an ever-evolving industry. And our commitment to customer service means that we will come to your home and preform service with which you can be satisfied every time.
Simply call us today at 770-536-7509 and schedule a service visit from one of our technicians.