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Why Can’t My Heat Pump Keep Up?

Winter is fast-approaching, and the last thing you want is to be left out in the cold. If you’re wondering, “Why can’t my heat pump keep up?” then you’ve come to the right place to find out. This is a common question, but it doesn’t mean your heat pump is failing. It’s likely an easy fix. Fortunately, Entek HVAC has some answers. We’ll explain some of the most common causes and what you can do about them.

Problem: Thermostat Not Working Properly

Sometimes the problem isn’t with your heat pump at all but, instead, with your thermostat. There are a number of things that can cause your thermostat to malfunction. Since these are typically easier to fix than heat pump issues, let’s start here.

Solution: Check the Thermostat

If the batteries haven’t been replaced in a while, try switching them out. Open the thermostat’s cover and use a soft brush or cloth to remove any dirt or debris. Make sure the thermostat is mounted about five feet from the floor and is level with the ground.

If you believe the issue is with your thermostat, consider upgrading to a programmable one. If your thermostat seems to be operating just fine, continue reading.

Problem: Closed Vents

This may seem obvious, but if you haven’t already done so, check the supply and return vents in each room of your home. If they aren’t fully open in a particular room, then you’ll likely have an inconsistent temperature from one room to the next.

Solution: Open Your Vents

Simply open the air vents in rooms that aren’t warming up to your desired temperature. It may take some trial and error, but you should be able to get the vents in each room positioned just right.

Problem: Cold Outdoor Temperature

It may seem rather simple, but the fact of the matter is that your heat pump may be unable to keep up because it’s too cold outside. If your heat pump is working but it’s a couple of degrees shy of your thermostat setting, then the outdoor temperature could be to blame.

This is most common when the temperature dips below 35 degrees. Usually, the supplemental heat kicks in to make up for the difference, but that supplemental heat normally shuts off when it gets within a degree and a half of room temperature.

Solution: Adjust Your Thermostat Setting

If the outdoor weather is to blame, there’s good news. A quick fix is simply adjusting your thermostat setting to be a couple of degrees warmer than you want it to be. This should get the temperature inside adjusted to your liking.

Try adjusting your thermostat settings to see if this quick fix works. If not, read on for some other common causes and solutions.

Problem: Filter Hasn’t Been Changed

Your filters should be changed on a frequent basis. You should be able to eye it to determine whether it needs to be changed.

Solution: Change Your Filter

If your filter appears dirty and clogged with debris, or if you haven’t changed it in a while, then switch it out. This may be all you need to do to resolve the issue.

Problem: Low Refrigerant

Low refrigerant levels can put stress on system components, causing them to operate less efficiently. If you’ve noticed an increase in energy bills recently, then it may be that your refrigerant levels are low.

Solution: Check Refrigerant Levels

Only a skilled technician should check refrigerant levels, but there are a few things that will clue you in to whether this is the cause of your heat pump’s less-than-stellar performance. You can listen to the compressor, for instance. If it runs too often or too long, then your refrigerant levels may be low.

Also, if you notice condensation forming on your evaporator coil, that could be another indicator of low refrigerant. Read on for more on that and call your HVAC technician if you suspect low refrigerant levels to be the culprit.


Problem: Unit is Icing Up

It’s quite common for heat pumps to have ice form on their outdoor coils. As we mentioned, low refrigerant could be one of the reasons. Typically, when this happens, the heat pump will shift into cooling mode in order to defrost the system. If you notice your heat pump emitting cool air, this is probably why.

Solution: Run a Defrost Cycle

If your heat pump isn’t defrosting the system on its own, then you may need to run a defrost cycle. To do this, check your owner’s manual for instructions. If you’ve run a defrost cycle and you still notice a large buildup of ice, refrain from trying to remove it yourself. Improper removal of snow and ice could damage your unit. Instead, contact your HVAC technician for help.

Problem: Your Heat Pump Hasn’t Been Serviced

Some heat pump problems can be solved yourself, but others need professional expertise. If you haven’t had your heat pump serviced in a while, this could be the reason why it’s not performing at maximum efficiency.

It’s a good idea to have a professional HVAC technician service your heat pump twice a year, once in the fall before winter begins and again in the spring before the start of summer.

Solution: Call in the Professionals

If your heat pump hasn’t been serviced in quite some time, it’s a good idea to call in some reinforcements. A professional HVAC technician will be able to diagnose the issue with your unit and recommend the best possible solution.

If that does involve replacing the heat pump system altogether, don’t fret. While that probably isn’t the news you want to hear, upgrading to a newer system may not only make you more comfortable, but it could also help you save money on your energy bills.

These are some of the most common reasons your heat pump may not be keeping up. If you’ve tried to troubleshoot the issue yourself and your heat pump still isn’t performing the way you would like, give us a call. We don’t want to brag, but we have a way of knowing exactly how to heat things up.

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