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Help, My Heat Pump Won’t Switch to Heating!

cold-sweater-manWhen it comes to Summit, NJ heating for a home, a heat pump is a fantastic device. This comfort system serves both as a forced-air heater and air conditioner. When used properly, a heat pump can help a home save around 30% off the costs of using a furnace during the winter.

A heat pump becomes a much less fantastic device when it doesn’t work right, of course. Even the best constructed and maintained heat pump can develop faults. The worst is when a heat pump won’t turn on at all. This rarely happens without some warning, however. It’s more common for a heat pump to develop a small operating concern, such as failing to change from cooling mode to heating mode and vice versa.

That brings us to the title of this post: What do you do when your heat pump won’t do the “heat” part of its name?

Is the air from the vents cold… or only lukewarm?

If there’s some warmth from the air blowing into the rooms, but it’s lukewarm or room temperature, it often means the heat pump can change into heating mode, but it’s losing general effectiveness. We recommend checking on the air filter before doing anything else. A clogged air filter that hasn’t been changed in a few months will block airflow into the unit. The less air that enters the heat pump, the less air there is to heat! Change the filter and see if this makes a difference. (And change it ever 1–3 months from then on.)

Another possibility for low heating power is grime along the refrigerant coil. A layer of dirt makes it harder for the coil to release heat into the air through condensation. The trouble might also be with the outside unit. Check to see if there’s snow piled against the cabinet or any other blockage stopping the internal components from drawing heat from the outside air.

If the air is cool as if the AC was running…

This means the heat pump isn’t changing over to heating mode; it’s stuck working like an air conditioner. There are different potential reasons for this. The most common is a broken reversing valve. This valve is an essential component for heat pump operation, since it changes the direction refrigerant flows through the system. If the flow goes one direction, the heat pump draws heat from the home and cools it. If it goes the other, the heat pump moves heat into the home and warms it. A broken valve locks the heat pump in a single mode until the valve is replaced.

Another common cause for a stuck heat pump is a malfunction in the thermostat, which might read incorrect temperatures and refuse to change the heat pump into heating mode. The thermostat may have a wiring fault that has cut it off from contact with the reversing valve.

Most of these heat pump malfunctions require a professional to repair. Don’t tinker with the HVAC yourself! Leave the expert work to skilled technicians, and you can count on the having your comfort restored in short order.

Air Creations, Inc. serves Central and Northern New Jersey. “We Do It Right” since 1987.

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