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Why Is My Heat Pump Not Heating?

heat pump not heating in winterIs your heat pump not heating your home this winter? If it’s cold outside and you have your heat turned on, but your HVAC is struggling to reach the desired temperature you set on your thermostat, it’s time to start investigating.

A heat pump may be working as intended but still fail to reach the desired temperature inside your home, depending on the outdoor conditions and the efficiency of the system.

The licensed HVAC service providers at ARS/Rescue Rooter are specially trained to perform heat pump repair service. We can help determine whether the problem with your heat pump not heating lies with the system itself, a thermostat setting, or possibly a dirty air filter. We service units from York, Lennox, Carrier, and other leading brands.

In order to examine your exterior heat pump, we first must understand how a heat pump actually works.

How Does a Heat Pump Work?

Your residential heat pump works by both heating and cooling your home throughout the changing seasons based on the settings you utilize. A heat pump system comprises of the following:

  • An outdoor unit
  • An indoor unit
  • And your thermostat

Here’s how the system works…

Your outdoor unit will draw heating energy from the air outside. This air once drawn in goes through copper refrigerant tubes to a coil that sits in the indoor unit.

A blower fan will pull the indoor air through this coil causing the air to warm. The fan will circulate this warm air throughout the home. For cooling, the process is simply reversed so the heat pump acts like a typical central air unit.

How to Troubleshoot a Heat Pump That’s Not Heating

There are common heat pump issues that can arise. To find out why your heat pump takes a long time to heat, and how to determine whether it’s time to contact your local ARS/Rescue Rooter HVAC technician for heat pump repair, check out the list of common heat pump troubleshooting tips below:

Frozen outdoor unit

If your outdoor unit is frozen, your system is incapable of transferring heat outside into your home. Go outside and inspect the outdoor unit for any ice or frost on the copper tubing between the house and the unit, or any buildup on the outdoor unit coil.

A frozen outdoor coil is best remedied by a professional HVAC contractor. While some frost buildup on heat pumps is normal, too much ice buildup on your outdoor unit is a problem that should be addressed immediately.

Low refrigerant charge

A heat pump that is too low on refrigerant won’t be able to keep up demand. Another sign of low refrigerant charge is a frozen coil. If you suspect your system has a low refrigerant charge, call us right away to fix it.

Bad reversing valve

Remember how we said heat pumps both heat and cool? If your heat pump cools but does not heat, you might have a faulty reversing valve. You will need to have a trained HVAC pro confirm this issue and replace the valve for you.

Incorrect thermostat settings

Not feeling any hot air through your vents? If your heat pump is operating and you feel cool air from the registers, double check your thermostat is set to heat mode.

Change the setting on the read-out If it is set to cool or on constant fan, as this will blow cool or cold air.

Uncalibrated or faulty thermostat

A thermostat can become uncalibrated by someone accidentally bumping it or dirt buildup inside. When this happens, it can cause the thermostat to be off by a few degrees.

Have the thermostat recalibrated either by following the instructions in its manual or call a local HVAC company to do it for you.

Circuit breaker is tripped

It is possible you have an electrical issue, or lack of electricity, causing your heat pump to not heat your house. Check your electrical panel to make sure no breakers have been switched off.

The indoor unit and outside unit would run on separate breakers, so look if either or both have been tripped somehow. If the breakers keep tripping, call an electrician or HVAC professional to ensure the wiring is intact properly.

Indoor unit power switch

Did you know your heat pump’s indoor unit has its own power switch? The switch typically is found on the indoor air handler unit that looks similar to a light switch. It should be in the “on” position.

Dirty air filter

In more extreme cases, airflow can become completely blocked or the system can shut down. If your air filter is dirty or clogged with debris it can lead to reduced airflow.

Remember to change your filter regularly or clean the current filter.

Remember Heat Pump Maintenance

Any HVAC technician can tell you regular maintenance service is important or that you need to schedule tune-up service annually. But in the end, it’s all about the benefits that heat pump maintenance can provide.

Save yourself from replacing your existing heat pump and see why scheduled maintenance is the right investment.

Breakdown Prevention

The vast majority of our repair calls, and even heat pump replacements, that our team handles could have been preempted with routine maintenance. If you don’t want a mid-season breakdown in the heat of summer or the freezing cold of winter, maintenance is pivotal!

Preserved Efficiency

Heat pumps are widely loved for achieving efficiency ratings, but without a proper checkup that rating can dip appreciably. At ARS/Rescue Rooter, you can rest assured our home service professionals are getting the most out of your heat pump’s potential.

Warranty Preservation

Most warranties today are robust and well worth preserving. Many make it a requirement that you keep up with regular maintenance service. Check your warranty and make sure you're scheduling its required maintenance.

Extended Lifespan

A well-maintained heat pump system can last for over a decade. A heat pump may run strong season after season, so long as it receives the professional service and maintenance it needs season after season.

Keep Your Heat Pump Heating This Winter With ARS/Rescue Rooter

Regular maintenance twice a year for your heat pump system can ensure your unit works properly in the summer and winter months. ARS/Rescue Rooter is the nation’s leading home services provider with heating and cooling service, electrical, plumbing, and attic insulation.

Find your nearest location or call us to schedule an appointment today.

Common Heat Pump Questions

Why is my heat pump covered in ice during the winter, and what should I do about it?

Low temperatures outside can cause ice to form on your heat pump during the winter. Although light frost usually isn’t an issue, ice buildup could mean there’s a problem with your unit’s defrost cycle, or you could have insufficient insulation. To address this issue, make sure your unit has adequate clearance around it, and remove any snow or ice gently with a stream of warm water. If you continue to have this problem, call a professional HVAC technician to inspect and repair your heat pump or add more insulation.

My heat pump seems to be losing refrigerant. What should I do?

This is a common issue with heat pumps, and if you suspect you have a leak, you need to contact a professional as soon as you can. Trying to fix it yourself can be very dangerous. A professional technician will be able to find the leak, repair it, and recharge the refrigerant.

Why is my heat pump making a loud, grinding sound?

Noises like grinding could mean a problem with the internal components. It’s recommended that you turn your unit off and call a professional if you notice any strange sounds. You might have a damaged motor, broken fan blades, or loose parts.

Why is my heat pump not heating when I need it?

First, check the thermostat to make sure the settings are at your desired temperature and in the correct mode. If that doesn’t solve the issue, check your circuit breakers or fuses. A tripped breaker or blown fuse might be the problem. If you’re still having trouble, get in touch with our team of professional technicians to diagnose and resolve any issues that are keeping your heat pump from starting. 

Searching for more knowledge to boost your indoor comfort? Sign up for our email newsletter and you'll receive expert tips and advice from our HVAC & plumbing pros. Plus when you sign-up. you'll be entered into a drawing to win a FREE 50 Gallon Gas or Electric Water Heater!

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