Common Heat Pump Problems and Fixes

Common Heat Pump Problems and Fixes

It can get really frustrating when you know that you have run into heat pump problems. Can you even imagine a dreary day and a bitter wind whips around your face and you cannot wait to get into your nice warm and cozy home, just with the thought of it your pace accelerates, you may also think about throwing open the front door pick up your heat pump remote, hit the power button, and what do you face? A broken heat pump? Nobody would want that at any cost. Just like any other system in your entire home, it would not be abnormal to experience common heat pump problems from time to time.

In many cases, knowing some basic heat pump troubleshooting steps would alleviate the need to call in professionals. Of course, when in doubt, you should never hesitate to contact a top-notch professional company like Alturas Contractors.

With that in mind, below are listed some of the most common heat pump problems, as well as possible explanations and fixes for all these issues.

Heat Pump Troubleshooting

You will have to read through the information that would tell you in detail about heat pump problems and how yo9u can fix it before even you contact your local HVAC technician for a service call. You just might end up saving some money!

Diagnose & troubleshoot basic heat pump problems

As we know our heat pumps would operate just like a central air conditioner but with some added benefit of providing heat for your home during the winter season. Some of the common issues that are covered in this heat pump troubleshooting guide would include:

  • Blowing cold air in heat mode
  • Heat pump running constantly in moderate weather
  • The outdoor unit is blocked
  • The outdoor unit is frozen
  • Fan on the indoor air handler not activating

Blowing cold air in heat mode

One of the most common problems with your heat pump could be if your heat pump system is blowing cold or room temperature air whereas the thermostat is adjusted for heat mode, there can be some of the common situations and you may also resolve them without even looking at heat pump itself.

Check your thermostat

Before panicking yourself, you must double-check if your system did not accidentally get set for any of the cooling settings. You must also check your fan control settings before concluding that there is any big problem with your heat pump. In case you would like to run your fan continuously for air circulation and filtering, you might feel room temperature or cool air because the system is not properly heating. Re-setting the entire system to the heating mode and the fan to auto mode should solve all these kinds of issues.

Still in case checking the thermostat would not solve your problem, and your heat pumping system still is not being able to heat and cool in the best way possible, you will need to start looking more closely at the indoor and outdoor units as mentioned further in this article below.

Heat pump running constantly in moderate weather

As we know that our heat pump depends upon heating energy from outdoor air, it would be completely normal for any unit to run all the time in all kinds of extreme temperatures as it usually tries to extract enough heat for your entire home. But in that case, if the temperature outside is relatively warm, and your unit is still trying and constantly running, it is the time to do a little heat pump troubleshooting.

Check your thermostat

You must start by checking the thermostat settings. Are you sure that the heat pump is set in air conditioning mode? If you are sure then changing to the heat setting might fix your problem.

System tune-up

In case if it is not your thermostat setting, your heat pump might need a tune-up. If you keep your heat pump serviced regularly by any certified professional, a qualified HVAC technician will provide higher productivity operation and more reliable comfort. One service typically offered during routine maintenance would be cleaning your outdoor coil regularly. Just in case the coil is exceptionally dirty, there are chances that your system might have trouble keeping up with heating demand.

Clean or replace the air filter

Another service your HVAC technician might perform is checking the air filter located in or near your indoor air handler unit. A dirty and clogged air filter has higher chances that it can cause the system to run longer and less effective. It should always be cleaned or replaced regularly. This is something that you can do yourself and do not have to call any professional for this task.

Some more serious issues

However, in case it is mildly cold outside, the unit has been serviced recently and it is running constantly, you may have a deeper issue such as:

  • frozen coil
  • malfunctioning reversing valve
  • low refrigerant charge
  • compressor issue

For each of these situations, it is generally best to contact a certified professional for diagnosis and heat pump repair.

The outdoor unit is blocked

Your heat pump system would always need unlimited airflow through the outdoor coil in order to work properly and effectively. In case your system is not heating properly or if it is running frequently, you would need to check the outdoor unit for any built-up debris there can be leaves or snow blockages stuck in there. In case the entire unit is blocked or obstructed in its way, you will have to remove the source of the blockage, then resume monitoring the temperature inside the machine. If you still have issues with the working of your heat pump and have followed the remaining troubleshooting tips, there comes the time when you have to contact a professional.

The Outdoor Unit is Frozen

Another common heat pump problems could be a frozen outdoor unit. During the winter season, it is very normal for a little frost to develop on your outdoor coil, but if there is a coating of ice it also indicates an issue. Ice on the coil impedes airflow and significantly reduces its efficacy. Always remember that a frozen coil during all the summer months is also something to be worried about. Regardless of the season, a frozen coil can be the source of your heat pump problems and can happen for a number of reasons.

Low refrigerant charge

In case your system is low on refrigerant, it would not be able to produce enough heat that would melt ice buildup during the winter season. During the summer season, it is usually the reason your indoor coil has frozen, and in both of these cases, the heat pump has to work very hard so that it can keep you comfortable.

However, testing and charging the system is a job for a qualified HVAC technician.

Water on the outdoor unit

During the winter season, water from melting snow or ice tends to leak onto the coil and then freeze afterward. Although your system has a defrost mode in it, but still it may not be enough to take care of a severe freeze-over. To tackle this situation, you will have to find the source of the water, such as a leaky gutter, and repair the leak. Never ever try to chip ice from the coil. In case you notice that the unit does not defrost with its defrost function, you can call any HVAC technician.

Defective fan motor

In your outdoor unit, the fan draws air through the coil, helping in the heat transfer process necessary for both heating and cooling your entire home. A defective fan motor would mean little or no airflow which can cause the coil to freeze over. Again this is the job of some professional HVAC technician.

Faulty defrost timer

The defrost mode on your heat pump is specially designed to kick on at pre-determined intervals that can keep the outdoor unit free from icy buildup. If the timer crashes, your outdoor unit may not defrost as needed and freeze over. Diagnosis and remedy are best handled by a certified HVAC tech.

Fan on the Furnace Or Air Handler not Activating

In case you notice that your outdoor unit is running, but you do not feel any air coming from the registers, your indoor air handler may not be activated in this case.

Heat pump troubleshooting for common problems that can cause your indoor unit to not kick on include looking for:

Circuit breaker tripped

Your indoor and outdoor units are working on individual breakers. If your indoor air handler is not turning on, you must check your home’s electrical panel for a tripped circuit breaker. You must follow standard safety precautions so that you can reset the breaker. If it still continues to trip, you must contact a professional.

Bad wiring connection

A faulty air handler may be the result of a burnt-out or disconnected wire. You must contact your trusted certified engineer for this purpose.

Blown blower motor

In case the blower motor is burnt out, you must always contact a trusted, local HVAC technician so that he can thoroughly check your system, you must determine why the motor is blown, and estimate repair and replacement costs. As you can see, heat pump problems aren’t always connected to the outdoor unit.

When To call an Expert For Heat Pump Troubleshooting?

While there are a number of simple remedies for solving heat pump problems, many issues are best diagnosed and addressed by a qualified HVAC professional. The sooner you resolve the issue, the sooner you and your family can enjoy the comfort and get to your daily routines.


What can go wrong with a heat pump?

The most common problem with your heat pump can be if it fails to power up. Your entire system will not power up if electricity can’t reach its thermostat or the main hardware. If you want to restore power, you will have to investigate your electrical panel and every sub-panel that is wired to the heat pump. A damaged wire can also cause power-related problems. If you ever find a wire with exposed coils, it is the right time to hire a professional to replace frayed wires and service defective motors.

What type of heat pump is the most common and why?

Well, air heat pumps are the most common heat pumps in use today because they are generally less expensive and easier in terms of installment than other types of heat pumps.

Why is Heat pump not turning on outside?

If any part of the heat pump is damaged or malfunctioning, it could cause the heat pump to not turn on. You will have to make sure that you have a power switch connected to the heat pump, and be certain that it is receiving power properly. You must also check if the circuit breakers have been tripped. Start by resetting the circuit breaker if the heat pump’s fan won’t work.

How to fix a heat pump?

If you face any problem with the heat pump and you are not sure what the problem is you must try to reset your heat pump settings. Please follow these steps below to restart your Heat Pump:

1 – Turn off the Thermostat.

2 – Turn off the Power Switch to the heat pump

3 – Turn off the 2 electrical breakers for the heat pump.

4 – Wait a few minutes (3 to 5 minutes should be enough)

What are the disadvantages of a heat pump?

Some of the disadvantages of heat pumps are;

  • High upfront cost
  • Difficult to install
  • Questionable Sustainability
  • Requires significant work
  • Issues in cold weather
  • Not entirely carbon neutral
  • Planning permissions required

How to know if your heat pump is working?

The main way to tell if your system is working as intended is to simply listen to the unit running. You can hear the system when it turns on, when the fans begin to work and stop, and when air passes through the ducts. Other than that, the unit itself should be quiet, without any groaning or creaking sounds.

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