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Why Won’t My Heat Pump—Heat?

woman-shiveringTemperatures are dropping as we move into the second half of fall. If you use a heat pump for your household comfort around the year, you may already have switched it over to heating mode for the first time. What happened when you did? If you started receiving warm air from the vents around the rooms (or from wall units if you have a ductless mini-split heat pump), then we can only assume you’re reading this post out of curiosity or maybe to plan ahead. Otherwise, you’re reading this because your heat pump either isn’t putting out enough heat to keep your family warm or it isn’t putting out heat at all. It may even still be sending out cold air.

Why Your Heat Pump Isn’t Getting the Job Done

Before going further, it’s helpful to remind people that a heat pump is a refrigerant-based system. It works similarly to an air conditioner: refrigerant circulates from a compressor to a set of coils, moving heat from one location to another. In cooling mode, heat is pumped outside. In heating mode, it is pumped inside.

Keeping this in mind, here are some reasons for a heat pump that won’t heat.

The reversing valve may be stuck or broken

This valve is what allows a heat pump to switch between cooling and heating mode. The valve controls the direction the refrigerant moves as it exits the compressor. If the valve directs it first toward the indoor coil, the unit is in heating mode; if the valve directs the refrigerant to the outdoor coil, it’s in cooling mode. The valve can become broken or stuck, leaving it trapped in one mode. So, if your heat pump will only cool when it comes on, you’ll probably need to have a technician come out to replace the valve.

The air filter is clogged

The air filter protects the inside of the HVAC cabinet from debris coming through the return ducts. If it becomes too clogged, not enough air will enter the heat pump to pass over the coil and pick up heat. Change out the filter to see if this improves performance (and remember to change it regularly, every one to three months).

The heat pump is losing refrigerant

This is a serious problem: refrigerant in a heat pump needs to remain at its factory-set level for the lifetime of the system. If refrigerant is lost because of leaks along the copper lines, not only will heating power drop, but eventually the compressor will overheat—a catastrophic problem that may require putting in a new heat pump. You’ll need HVAC professionals to seal the leaks and recharge the refrigerant.

Miscalibrated thermostat

The trouble may be that even when you raise the thermostat temperature, the thermostat doesn’t realize the house is cold enough to require turning the heat pump to heating mode. A few degrees of miscalibration can mean an uncomfortable house. Fortunately, it’s simple for technicians to recalibrate the unit.

You can rely on us for repairs to your heating in Burlington, NJ, no matter what type of heating system you use!

Repair your heat pump with our expert help. Gibson Heating & Cooling serves the Greater Cherry Hill, NJ area.

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