Heat pumps are an efficient, clean way to both heat and cool, but the technology is much different from more familiar types of heating and cooling, such as a gas furnace or central air conditioner. The way they function can sometimes make it difficult for a homeowner to differentiate heat pump issues from standard operation.

What’s Wrong With My Heat Pump?

Following are some examples of common heat pump issues, some of which you’ll be able to fix.

  • Steam is rising from the heat pump – This is probably normal. When the heat pump goes into cooling, or defrost mode, it’s clearing ice or frost from the outside condenser coil, and the ice will evaporate as vapor. The frost forms as warm refrigerant in the coil meets colder outside air and condensation forms. If the heat pump’s defrost light stays on longer than 90 minutes, there could be a malfunction.
  • The heat pump isn’t operating – Before you call the service technician, check that the unit is on at the switch. Also check the breaker. Reset it to be sure. If you’re sure your electricity is on, then there is a problem with the heat pump.
  • Ice has formed on the heat pump – This isn’t just the frost on the coil described above, but rather the entire unit is sprouting ice. This type of malfunction can be caused by a number of things, including a faulty relay switch, the wrong refrigerant charge, a malfunctioning thermostat or sensor, the malfunction of defrost control or a fan motor malfunction.A service expert must repair any of these problems, but you can also make sure there are no blockages around the coil and that freezing rain from a gutter or other location isn’t overwhelming the heat pump.
  • The heat pump is making odd noises – Hums and buzzes are normal, but not rattling vibrations or clattering. If the noise is outdoors, it could be a cracked fan blade. If it’s indoors, the blower fan might be off balance or broken. Call a technician.

To learn more about heat pump issues, contact Apollo Home Heating, Plumbing and Cooling. We’ve served greater Cincinnati since 1910.

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