Friday, November 17, 2017

Common Winter Heat Pump Problems

First things first, let’s start off with what exactly a heat pump is. A heat pump works like an air conditioner in reverse, it absorbs heat from the air outdoors and it transfers it into your home. A furnace on the other hand, typically uses natural gas to create heat for your home. While a furnace and heat pump both make the house warm and cozy, these two are very different. The air outside is cold so you may be wondering how a heat pump extracts heat energy from such cold air. This is where the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics comes into play. That 2nd law states that heat flows from hotter to colder bodies. When the temperature of the refrigerant that flows through the outdoor condenser coils is lower than the temperature of the outside air, it is able to pick up heat and then bring that heat into your home. Royal Heating & Air knows that a heat pump is one system that functions as two. It works as both a heater and an air conditioner. The best HVAC company at the Lake of the Ozarks has solutions for some common winter heat pump problems.

Winter Heat Pump Problems and Their Solutions

Not Enough Heat
Some may be surprised to learn that the heat generated by heat pumps is not nearly as strong as the heat that is generated by furnaces. For heat pumps, this is normal. The heat may not be as strong, but heat pumps generally distribute heat more evenly throughout your home. They also run longer at a more sustained level, which means you don’t have to turn them off and on as much.

Heat pumps do have a harder time extracting heat from extremely cold environments. This means that most heat pump owners need a supplemental heating system to stay warm. Most people will install a furnace to supplement their heat pump.

Outdoor Unit is Iced Over
If your outdoor condensing unit is iced up, airflow will be severely restricted. This will result in a struggling unit that could cause severe damage. If the ice is light, it will more than likely go away in a short period of time. However, if the ice remains for a significant period of time, it’s a problem you will want to address quickly.

The most common solution to a frozen heat pump is running the defrost cycle. The defrost cycle normally turns on automatically at timed intervals or when the unit detects frost, however, some units have a defrost option. The defrost cycle essentially reverses the heat pump into air conditioning mode so that it can pump heat to the outdoor unit until it unfreezes. The defrost cycle usually only runs for 10-15 minutes.

Most people don’t want cold air blowing on cold days, so many will opt for a supplemental heat system. This usually means electric resistance heat strips, which keep the air warm. After about 15 minutes, the heat strips will turn off and the heat pump will come back on. If the defrost cycle isn’t thawing your iced over heat pump, try these steps:
  • Check the air filter and replace if needed. Clean air filters improve airflow and the quality of your indoor air.
  • Make sure that there is no large debris near the unit that may be blocking the airflow. It’s a good idea to always maintain a 3-foot clearance around the unit.
  • If you notice that there is no air flowing from your vents, you may have a malfunctioning blower motor. You can try setting the thermostat to “fan” to see if the blower motor or a related component is at fault.

Buildup of any ice on your condenser unit is never a good sign. If the solutions above do not work, prevent any further damage to your unit by contacting the best HVAC company at the Lake of the Ozarks.

Constantly Running Heat Pump
It is possible that too much cold air is getting into your home and the heat pump just can’t keep up. If you haven’t winterized your home, it’s not too late to do so. Here are some helpful tips:
  • Make sure your doors and windows are closed and well-insulated. If you notice air leaks around any doors or windows, replace the weatherstripping.
  • Inspect insulation levels.
  • Double-paned storm windows help retain heat. For a more inexpensive option, you can use energy-efficient thermal curtains to improve your windows insulation.

No Air or Cold Air
It’s important to make sure all of your vents are open to allow proper air movement. It’s never a good idea to close vents to try to keep the heat in one area of the home. By closing vents, it can create unwanted pressure within the system and cause duct leaks, system failure, and other problems.

If cold air is blowing from the vents, the heat pump is more than likely in defrost mode. This is normal if you don’t have a supplemental heating system. Defrost cycles normally last around 10-15 minutes and then the heat will kick back on.

When to Call Royal Heating & Air

You should give us a call when:
  • The outdoor unit isn’t running at all.
  • The thermostat isn’t working properly.
  • Ice or frost is still on the unit after a day.
  • You haven’t scheduled your annual heat pump maintenance.

Don’t get left out in the cold this winter, give the best HVAC company at the Lake of the Ozarks a call and schedule your heat pump tune-up today! If you have any questions about your furnace or heat pump, Royal Heating & Air would be glad to help. 

Royal Heating & Air - "The King of Comfort"

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CALL TODAY! (573) 480-4313

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