A heat pump is a great choice for a home heating system. They are energy efficient, safe, and versatile. However, heat pumps are also vulnerable to just as many repair issues as any other kind of heating system. As heat pumps tend to be more uncommon than furnaces or boilers, many homeowners are unaware of the symptoms that indicate a problem with them. Let’s take a look at 3 of the most common heat pump problems, and how you can easily identify them.
Loss of Heating Function
When a heat pump loses the ability to heat, it can often be contributed to one of two factors. The first factor is that the heat pump’s outer unit has lost access to the ambient thermal energy that it needs to heat the home. The second factor is that a leak in the refrigerant line has deprived the heat pump of the medium it uses to transport heat.
A good way to check for the first factor is to examine the outer unit. Oftentimes, the unit can be deprived of thermal energy by ice building up on it in cold weather. Normally, a defrost cycle activates periodically to melt any ice off of the unit. If the defrost cycle stops working for whatever reason, however, the unit can ice over and begin to blow cold air instead of warm.
Refrigerant leaks are often identified by a gurgling sound or pooling liquid around the heat pump units. If you see either of these symptoms, call a professional immediately.
Becoming Stuck in One Mode
Heat pumps are unique among heating systems, in that they can switch between heating and cooling modes. This is accomplished through the use of a part called the “reversing valve,” which reverses the flow of refrigerant through the system. Inside the reversing valve is a slide that directs the flow of refrigerant. If that slide becomes stuck for whatever reason, the heat pump can become stuck in either heating or cooling mode. If you notice this happening, you’ll need to have a professional look at your reversing valve.
Broken Air Handler
The air handler is the part of the heat pump responsible for circulating air through the house. The motor that turns the fan in the air handler is put under quite a bit of stress during operation, as it has to move quite a bit of air over a long distance. In order to help compensate for the strain, air handler motors are equipped with lubricated bearings that lessen the friction. As these bearings wear down, however, the stress on the motor increases. If not treated quickly, the motor can overheat and burn itself out. If you hear a grinding sound coming from your heat pump, that is the sound of the bearings wearing out. Have a professional look at it immediately.