Help! My Heat Pump Is Not Heating Enough
Of the many different methods for heating your home, perhaps the most versatile, is a heat pump. You’ll be able to use a heat pump throughout the year: During the summer, it pumps cold air through the home and acts as your home’s air conditioning. During the winter, your heat pump draws heat in from the outside and leaves your home nice and toasty.
This versatility comes from the heat pump’s method of operation. It makes use of a refrigerant to either draw heat from the outside (to heat the home) or to disperse the heat that’s inside (thus cooling the home.) This method is particularly energy efficient, saving you a fortune on your energy bill over the years.
Of course, as with any other home heating system, there will occasionally be problems. This can be particularly frustrating if it’s a cold winter and you can’t seem to get your home to the right temperature. Is your heat pump not heating enough? How do you diagnose and solve the problem? The answer, of course, depends on what exactly the problem is. Below are a few of the most common problems found with air-to-air heat pumps and what you can do about them.
Potential Problem #1: The Thermostat
The first potential problem may be the fact that there’s actually not a problem with the heat pump itself. All of the equipment may be in perfect working order, but you still can’t seem to get your home to the temperature you want. This can mean there’s an issue with the thermostat, which is the device responsible for programming your heat pump to your preferred temperature.
There may be issues with the software. If this is the case, you’ll need to get an HVAC professional to take a look. If the temperature doesn’t feel like it’s quite matching what the thermostat says, you can try a temporary fix by simply turning the thermostat up a few extra degrees.
Potential Problem #2: The Pump Is Frozen
Air-to-air heat pumps work by drawing heat from the outside and to the inside. That air is then distributed throughout your home. If your home is still chilly—regardless of how high you crank up your thermostat—then the heat pump may simply be struggling to draw heat from the outside. If that’s the case, go out and take a look at your outdoor equipment. It’s possible the pump itself has frozen over. With ice all over your heat pump, no wonder it’s not able to heat up.
There are actually several reasons a heat pump might freeze over. They usually won’t do so on their own. Some of them are easily fixed, while others will require immediate help from a professional.
The easiest problem to fix is a pile of snow that has accumulated all around your heat pump. Well, we say “easy,” but we really mean simple; shoveling all that snow may not be anyone’s idea of easy!
You also might notice your heat pump is leaking refrigerant. Because it’s the refrigerant that absorbs the heat, low levels of it will cause the pump to struggle to do its job. For safety purposes, handling refrigerant is best left to professionals, so this will require a technician to fix. A company like Entek can do the job for you.
Potential Problem #3: Your Reversing Valve Has Failed
One of the reasons many homeowners are choosing to use air-to-air heat pumps is because they’re so versatile. That is, they can function as both a heating system and an air conditioning unit. To be able to do this effectively, however, they have to be able to switch between heating and cooling seamlessly. They do this through the use of a mechanism called the reversing valve. This is the piece of equipment that switches your pump from drawing heat from inside to cool the home to drawing it from outside to heat the home. But if this valve isn’t working as it should, your home may never heat up.
Unless you’re a professional HVAC technician, you’ll need to get outside to fix the reversing valve in your heat pump. Contact a professional at Entek to begin the repair process.
Potential Problem #4: Your Air Ducts Are Clogged
The heat pump not heating enough isn’t always due to equipment failure. Sometimes, every part of the heat pump is working just fine but your home still isn’t getting as warm as you would like it to. In this case, the problem might be as simple as a clogged air duct. If there’s any sort of blockage anywhere in the ducts, the warm air won’t be able to circulate properly, and your home will remain cold.
Sometimes, a simple problem has a simple solution. A trained HVAC technician can perform a cleaning that meets EPA standards. This means your air won’t only be warmer; it’ll be healthier too.
It’s important to regularly replace the filters in your heat pump as well. And even after professional duct cleaning, you still periodically need to have a full duct inspection and tune-up. And consider having your ducts sealed to prevent the leakage of any air.
Potential Problem #5: It’s Just Too Cold
While air-to-air heat pumps have plenty of advantages over other methods of heating, they’re simply not as powerful as some others. If you live in an area that gets extremely cold, your heat pump may just plain struggle to keep up. After all, the air-to-air heat pump works by drawing heat from outside. If there just isn’t enough of that heat, your pump simply won’t be able to do the job.
You can’t control the weather so your only real option in this case is to have a backup heating system installed. While this doesn’t mean that people living in cold climates can’t make use of an air-to-air heat pump, it does mean you’ll need another heat source on hand if it gets well below freezing outside. Propane is a good option: it burns cleanly and gets very, very hot. Contact the HVAC technicians at Entek for further information about a backup heating system.