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Common Heat Pump Problems and Solutions

Posted On: September 30, 2020

Heat pumps are a great combination of energy efficiency and reliability, making them ideal for handling our varied hot and cool seasons. That said, they’re also somewhat different than other, more common forced air furnaces or AC systems. It’s not unusual for a homeowner to be left scratching their head when trying to troubleshoot problems.

If you’ve come here looking for more information about common heat pump problems and how to solve them, you’re in the right place — the certified HVAC professionals at C.B. Lucas are here to help.

Heat Pump is Running All the Time

You’re likely accustomed to the short, bursty cycles of a gas furnace or electric central cooling system. However, heat pumps actually operate very steadily and gradually—it’s not unusual for a heat pump to operate for extended periods of time, or all the time in extreme weather.

However, if your heat pump is running constantly while chugging, sputtering, or while failing to meet your home comfort needs, then you may need to call for service. Otherwise, let the unit run.

Heat Pump Has Ice and Frost on the Outdoor Unit

Heat pumps frequently form a small amount of ice on the outdoor-located unit, due to the refrigeration cycle. This is why heat pumps feature a defrost mode, which runs occasionally to keep the system free of excess ice. But! Your system might become encased in ice in some cases, or might freeze over entirely.

Sometimes, this might have just been a hiccup, and you can remove the ice with a steady stream of water or by shutting off the system and letting it thaw. Never remove ice with a blunt or sharp tool! The fins surrounding your outdoor unit are somewhat fragile, and each bent fin takes a little bit of efficiency away from the system.

If your system freezes up frequently, or even twice in a single season, you should schedule heat pump repair. This shouldn’t be happening, and likely indicates a problem with airflow or the refrigerant.

Heat Pump is Leaking Water at the Indoor Unit

The indoor aspect of how your heat pump handles condensate and draining is identical to the way other HVAC systems handle it — a drain line and drain pan should catch all runoff water and divert it outdoors. If you are experiencing a leak, you need to have the heat pump serviced. You’re likely dealing with a drain line clog, cracked condensate drain pan, or other drainage complication.

Heat Pump Won’t Switch From Heat to Cool

Heat pumps have a component called a reversing valve. This is what swaps the heat pump from pulling air out of your home, to pulling air into your home (to put it another way: from cool mode to heat mode). One of the more common problems with an older heat pump is that the valve will get jammed easily or break entirely. In these cases, you’ll need heat pump repair, as a professional will have to replace the valve.

Always check your thermostat to make sure all settings are correct before calling for emergency heat pump repair. Simple user error happens more often than you might think!

Heat Pump Troubleshooting and Repair in Northern Virginia

C.B. Lucas has been serving local Northern Virginia homeowners since 1977. Whether you need heat pump repair, heat pump maintenance, or an answer to a question about how your system operates, we’re always happy to lend our expertise.

Schedule heat pump repair any time online, or call (703) 590-3700!

Family Owned & Operated Since 1977
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