Heat pumps have a reputation for struggling in cold weather. When temperatures dip below freezing, these units have a hard time sourcing sufficient heat from the outdoor air. But Panama City Beach, FL enjoys moderate temps during even the coolest months of the year. With temperatures that rarely fall below 48 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s the perfect place to use a heat pump for heating. Thus, if your heat pump is no longer heating your home properly or if it never has, there’s something amiss.

How Your Heat Pump Works

Heat pumps work a lot like air conditioners. In fact, during summer, they’re functionally identical to air conditioners. They extract warm air from the building interior, pass it over their evaporator coils, and then funnel it back inside after its heat has been removed. The chilled refrigerant within their evaporator coils drives this heat transfer process.

In winter, heat pumps heat by functioning in reverse. The very cold refrigerant absorbs the radiant energy in the outdoor air and moves this heat inside. Factors like insufficient refrigerant, dirty evaporator coils, and reversing valve problems can all cause heat pumps to stop heating.

Check Your Heat Pump’s Air Filter

Most performance-related HVAC issues start with air filters. Take this component out and hold it up to the overhead light. If light can still pass through your air filter’s mesh, air can too. However, if your HVAC air filter is clogged with debris, your heat pump will have difficulty drawing air through it. This is the most likely cause of insufficient heating if your heat pump is short-cycling or your indoor air feels damp and muggy.

Dirty filters force HVAC equipment to work harder. Extra work leads to higher operating temperatures and, eventually, overheating. In order to prevent permanent equipment failure, most units shut themselves down before they grow too hot. Once cooled, they cycle back on until they overheat again. This is short cycling, and it can leave you with an overly humid building interior that never feels quite warm and generates much higher energy bills.

Heat Pump Refrigerant Leaks and Their Impact on Heating

Refrigerant leaks are always both serious and progressive. If you suspect that your heat pump has a refrigerant leak, turn it off and schedule service right away. If left unchecked, these leaks can lead to compressor failure or compressor collapse. The refrigerant inside of heat pumps is also toxic. HVAC refrigerants should only be cleaned, refilled, and handled by licensed HVAC companies.

Your heating issues might be the result of a refrigerant leak if you notice any of the following warning signs:

  • Frozen heat pump’s evaporator coil
  • Sudden increases in electricity bills
  • Hissing outdoor condenser unit
  • Pooling liquid surrounding the heat pump

Heat pump leaks can occur due to age-related corrosion, worn components, improper installation, and excess vibration.

With increasingly less refrigerant, the heat transfer process increasingly falls short. Heat pump compressors are highly pressurized, and fast-declining levels of refrigerant place them under considerable stress.

If you don’t notice any standing pools of refrigerant or other evidence of a drip, take a look at your heat pump’s evaporator coil. Escaped refrigerant often settles on these coils as small, light brown bubbles. Sometimes referred to as “champagne bubbles” due to their appearance, these build-ups cause heat pump coils to freeze.

Problems With Your Heat Pump’s Reversing Valve

Another important factor to check is your heat pump’s reversing valve. This four-way valve has two switching states and four separate connections. When switched, it reverses the flow of refrigerant and switches the functions of evaporator and condenser coils. Given the magnitude of the changes that occur when reversing valves switch, switching states during operation can leave heat pumps floundering for hours until they stabilize.

Common signs of heat pump reversing valve problems include sudden and significant increases in heating or cooling costs, failure to turn on, failure to heat, and longer and less productive heating cycles. Heat pump reversing valves can experience electrical or mechanical failure. They can also be hindered by defective parts. These valves can stick, break, or fail to close. If you think your reversing valve is damaged or malfunctioning, schedule a repair appointment.

Your Heat Pump Needs Preventative Maintenance

Changing your heat pump’s air filter on a regular basis is only one small part of preventing airflow obstructions and ensuring reliable and efficient operation. Dirt, lint, and other contaminants will invariably build up in other areas. During heat pump maintenance, we clean indoor and outdoor units both inside and out. We replace worn parts, remove built-up debris at HVAC air vents, and take other measures to prime heat pumps for optimum performance.

Although furnaces and air conditioners require HVAC maintenance service just once each year, heat pumps need service twice annually. Given that they pull double duty and run nearly all of the time, these systems need servicing in spring and again in fall. If your heat pump isn’t heating your home like it used to, a mid-season tune-up could be exactly what it needs.

Installation Problems

There’s a chance that your heat pump wasn’t installed correctly or accurately sized for your home. This may be the case if your heat pump never performed to your expectations. Heat pumps that consistently underperform may need major adjustments or replacement.

Defective Parts

During a heat pump repair visit, we check for evidence of defective parts and poor assembly. If your heat pump is still under its manufacturer’s warranty, you may be able to solve the problem without any out-of-pocket spending.

Thermostat Troubles

The operations of heat pumps are governed by their thermostats. These devices read the indoor temperature and signal heat pumps when to turn off or on. If your thermostat isn’t set correctly or if it can’t read your indoor temperature accurately, your heat pump won’t be able to heat.

Many people mistakenly toggle their thermostats into the “ON” position. In central HVAC systems, this setting causes blower fans to run non-stop but doesn’t initiate heating. When your thermostat is in “ON” mode, you’ll have cool or lukewarm air coming from your vents. When thermostats are set to “AUTO,” blower fans automatically activate during heating cycles to distribute heated air.

Having your thermostat positioned too close to any heat-generating device or appliance can be problematic as well. If your thermostat is close to a gaming computer or oven, it might read your indoor temperature as being much higher than it actually is. We can assess your thermostat’s location, relocate this device as needed, or make other necessary thermostat repairs. Thermostat calibration is a standard part of our heat pump preventative maintenance services.

HVAC Air Duct Problems

Insufficient heating can also result from aging, defective, or dirty HVAC air ducts. We check for duct leaks, air duct infestations, and other problems during heat pump maintenance. You should have your HVAC air ducts inspected annually and cleaned every three to five years. If your air ducts are sagging, crushed, or leaky, much of your heated air could be distributed into your crawlspaces or behind your drywall.

We help residents of Panama Beach City, FL optimize their home comfort. We offer outstanding heating, cooling, and plumbing services. We also provide indoor air quality improvements, duct cleaning, and preventative maintenance plans. If your heat pump is no longer heating your home properly, contact Paradise Home Services today.


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