Heat Pump Problems: A Troubleshooter’s Guide
Heat Pump Problems: Outside unit will not start Possible Solutions: Defective circuit breaker, disconnected wires, defective thermostat
Heat Pump Problems: Circuit breaker continually trips when unit starts Possible Solutions: Defective breakers, capacitors
Heat Pump Problems: Outside unit runs but not fan Possible Solutions): Fan motor burned out, loose wires, bad capacitor
Heat Pump Problems: Heat pump collects ice Possible Solutions): Filters dirty, evaporator coil dirty, blower motor bad
Heat Pump Problems: Cold air blowing in the vents during winter (should be warm) Possible Solutions): Low on refrigerant, defective heat pump, vents blocked, filter blocked
Heat Pump Problems: Outdoor unit will not turn off Possible Solutions): Defective thermostat, refrigerant loss
Heat pumps can be extremely efficient in their use of energy. One of the most common of all heat pump problems is that the coils in the outside unit have a tendency to form a build-up of ice. The heat pump has to melt this ice , so it turns back to air-conditioner operation in order to heat up the coils. The unit may also contain some sort of burner or an electric heater to heat this cold air. As soon as the ice is melted, the heat pump will switch back to heating, then turns off the electric heater or burner.
If you are experiencing heat pump problems — -Make a note of when the problem occurs: all the time? Or just intermittently? -Note what you see and hear: what is running, what is not? -Note the manufacturer, model and any add-ons -Call your service professional; tell them you are experiencing heat pump problems, how long it has been going on, and all other pertinent info gathered -NEVER attempt a DIY repair the unit yourself. You will NOT save money, may void your warranty, and possibly damage the unit or injure yourself.
Another great option for those using ground source heat pumps is to use it for heating hot water. Ground source heat pumps can be installed with an add-on device called a ‘desuperheater’ – this device partially heats your water. In summertime, when your air conditioner is running (and ground source heat pumps can double as air conditioners), the desuperheater will use some of the extra heat taken out by the air conditioning process to heat your hot water! So, in the summertime, your water will be heated for free! In wintertime, part of the heating power of ground source heat pump is used to heat the water. If, in your home, your ground source heat pump operates most of the time (especially to cool things off in the summer) you can save lots of $$ in heating your water. Truly, ground source heat pumps are a modern miracle of engineering!
While you cannot service your unit, there are some things you CAN do by way of preventive maintenance that will help prevent most heat pump problems: -Clean off the fan blades of the blower (if you can see them) -Tighten all mounting bolts if they are loose -Check for loose hoses or wires – notify a pro if you find any -If you have removable filters, check them regularly and clean or replace them as directed in your owner’s manual.
Who is the best person to call if you are experiencing heat pump problems? The person most knowledgeable about your system is the person/company who installed it.
Most manufacturers will not help you to directly resolve your heat pump problems, they will usually refer you to a qualified repair technician.
If you suspect that you have been sold a defective unit, or that it was not installed properly, you may contact your local state agency or federal consumer advocacy department for further assistance with your heat pump problems.
Consumer tips – -Use reliable contractors -Ask lots of questions -Before spending a lot of money, get 2 or 3 additional estimates