A heat pump is one of the essential units in your home or office that operates throughout the year to cool or heat the space. While an efficiently running heat pump offers savings on your energy bills, the same unit can cost you more if not appropriately maintained. Moreover, due to its mechanical nature, a heat pump is likely to undergo wear over the years and show signs of poor performance eventually.
We’ve prepared a handy guide to assist you in recognizing these issues early so that you don’t end up spending on costly emergency repairs. Find out how you can fix some of the common heat pump problems and know when it is necessary to call an HVAC professional. The guide also provides tips on how to maintain your heat pump to ensure reliable performance all year round.
General maintenance tips for heat pumps
With proper maintenance and care, you can extend the life and performance of your heat pump and prevent sudden breakdowns. Here are some of useful maintenance tips:
- Regularly clean the filters and replace them monthly or as recommended by the manufacturer.
- Make sure that the outdoor unit is not covered with plants and inspect the unit for any debris or ice formation. Regularly clean the unit to ensure proper airflow, especially after bad weather.
- Avoid placing furniture or other objects near the indoor unit to prevent blocking the airflow.
- Inspect for loose electrical connections and tighten them if necessary.
- Check for any refrigerant leaks and top up the unit with the correct refrigerant.
- Make sure to turn on the unit at least once every season if not in regular use.
- Consider having your heat pump checked once per year by an HVAC professional.
Common heat pump problems
Your heat pump may run into issues over time. It may not cool or heat effectively, or might not work at all. The following are some common heat pump problems and possible ways you can fix them. Remember, if you need help, you can always consult an HVAC professional to assist you with heat pump maintenance.
Heat pump not turning on
If your heat pump isn’t turning on, it is likely due to an electrical issue. The first thing you need to do is check if your heat pump is receiving power.
If the power switch is on but the heat pump is still not working, the issue may be with the thermostat setting. Make sure that the thermostat is set to the correct mode. If you replaced the thermostat recently, you also need to check if it matches your system and is wired correctly.
Before you make a service call, make sure to also check for tripped circuit breakers or a blown fuse in the panel box. Flipping the circuit breaker and replacing the fuse might solve your issue. However, if the switch trips again, there likely is a short in the electrical system. In such cases, we recommend calling a trained professional to fix the issue.
Repair Cost: Replacing a tripped circuit breaker or a broken condenser switch can cost you around $150-$230. However, if the issue is with a broken electric motor, the cost can go up to $400.
Heat pump not cooling
If your heat pump isn’t cooling properly, first check the thermostat settings. If the temperature settings are correct, the issue might be with the thermostat wiring. Have a professional help you rewire the thermostat correctly so that it registers the temperature differences successfully.
You might also want to check if the outdoor unit is clogged with debris. Clean the unit and check if the air filters need replacement.
A heat pump might not offer effective cooling if the refrigerant level is low. A system with a low charge is also a sign of leakage. Consult an HVAC professional to fix the leakage and top up the system with the correct refrigerant.
If the above fixes don’t help, a reversing valve is likely faulty. Again, you’ll need a professional to handle this issue.
Repair Cost: Rewiring a thermostat can cost around $40 to $70 while topping up the system with refrigerant will cost about $75 to $150. The cost of replacing a faulty valve costs roughly $450-$600.
Heat pump not heating
If the heat pump isn’t providing enough heat, you should first check the thermostat settings. Most likely, the thermostat isn’t sending the signal to the outdoor unit.
The heat pump may not provide enough heat if the outdoor unit is entirely covered with snow during the winter. Consider washing the snow or debris away using a hose.
A damaged reversing valve or defrost timer can also be to blame if the heat pump isn’t able to heat the indoors properly. Have a trained professional help you with the replacement.
A system low on refrigerant charge can also lead to ineffective heating. Consider topping off the heat pump with a correct refrigerant charge. Let an HVAC professional help you in identifying the refrigerant leaks and topping up the system.
Repair Cost: Repairs related to the thermostat can cost between $40 and $150, while the cost of replacing a reversing valve is around $400-$600. Defrost timer replacement averages to $200 to $250.
Heat pump makes noises
Over time your heat pump may start producing unusual noises, and it is important not to neglect these signs to prevent your system from falling apart completely. If you hear humming sounds from your heat pump, the hardware might be loose. Tighten the fasteners if necessary.
However, if you start hearing strange sounds like squealing or grinding, the issue might be more severe, such as a faulty compressor or worn-out motor bearings. In such cases, turn off the unit immediately to avoid further damage and seek professional help to identify and resolve the issue. Repair Cost: The cost of replacing a compressor can range from $800 to $1,200.