Troubleshooting the Heat Pump: A Practical Guide

Heat pumps do more than just heat your home during the winter; they also cool it during the summer. Heat pumps operate similar to central air conditioning in the summer and reverse the process for efficient heating in the winter. While you’ll want to get professional maintenance on a yearly – or even semi-annual – basis, it’s also important to know some steps you can take in troubleshooting the heat pump.

Maintaining your heat pump is important. When minor problems are not addressed right away, either by your as a homeowner or by a professional HVAC technician, they can turn into bigger, more expensive problems later.Troubleshooting the Heat Pump: A Practical Guide

Steps you can take yourself include routine checking of the heat pump’s air filter, changing it when it looks dirty, and cleaning of indoor and outdoor coils, to avoid a buildup of dirt and grime. This can impede the essential heat-exchange process that’s fundamental to heat pump operation. You’ll also want to keep the outdoor condensing unit clean and debris free. To do this, remove the grill from the outdoor unit and clean any pine needles, dirt and other leaves from the updraft fans. You can use a vacuum in between the fan blades to remove dirt and debris from the sides and bottom of the unit. Clear any leaves or yard debris away from the outside unit. Before troubleshooting the heat pump, make sure you turn off the power to the system.

If your heat pump is not cooling or heating your house properly, you can try few other steps:

  • Check the settings on the thermostat and make sure it’s set to “cool” and “auto” (or “heat” and “auto”)
  • Check the air filter
  • Check the power supply to ensure the heat pump is getting power
  • Change the batteries in the thermostat if it’s battery operated
  • Defrost the heat pump

Sometimes your heat pump will not defrost correctly. You will need to run the heat pump in the “fan only” setting for an hour or more to make sure it’s fully defrosted. If this is an ongoing problem, you will want to schedule professional service. Your heat pump may also need refrigerant added. In that case, you also will need a professional.

For more expert advice about troubleshooting the heat pump in your Cleveland area home, please contact us at Geisel Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Cleveland, Ohio about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about heat pumps and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

For those Do it Yourselfers who would rather take control of your own indoor comfort, you can shop our online store for replacement parts, products and accessories!  

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