It’s cold outside, and the last thing you need is a malfunctioning heat pump. If your heat pump is blowing cold air in your home, there are a few different things that could be causing the issue. As your local cooling and heating experts, we’ve put together a guide to help you decipher the problem with your heat pump. However, if you already know that you need a professional HVAC technician to come take a look, give us a call to get started!
How Does a Heat Pump Work?
A heat pump is a device installed in your outdoor HVAC unit that takes heat from one place and transfers it to another. Heat pumps work by circulating refrigerant through an evaporation and condensation cycle. A compressor transfers the refrigerant from one coil to another. At one coil, the refrigerant evaporates and absorbs heat. Then, the refrigerant is compressed. At the next coil, the refrigerant condenses and releases the heat it absorbed earlier in the cycle.
Heat pumps are used in refrigerators as well as air conditioners, and the cycle is fully reversible. This means that heat pumps can provide year-round climate control in your home by reversing the process. Instead of taking heat from indoors and dispersing it outside, the heat pump can take heat from outside and push it into your home. Even on cold days, there’s always some heat outdoors, so the heat pump can work in the winter.
Possible Causes of a Malfunctioning Heat Pump
There are three main scenarios when your heat pump is blowing cold air.
1. The heat pump isn’t actually blowing cold air, it just feels like it.
2. Your heat pump is in defrost mode.
3. Something is broken or malfunctioning within the unit, and a professional technician needs to come take a look.
The Heat Pump Isn’t Actually Blowing Cold Air
If it’s very cold outside, there’s a possibility that your heat pump isn’t blowing cold air, but air that’s colder than your body temperature. Heat pumps work by transferring heat from outside into your house. For example, if it’s below freezing outside, your heat pump may only be able to get the outside air to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, which will feel cold to you because your body temperature is 98 degrees.
However, in these cases, the heat pump will switch to backup heat (if it’s working properly) once it detects that it can’t keep up with the heating needs for the home. If you want to test if this is the issue, check the indoor temperature of your home. After thirty minutes, check the temperature again and see if it’s any warmer. If it is, the heat pump is working but the air just feels cold to you. If not, you may need to contact an HVAC professional.
The Heat Pump Is In Defrost Mode
If your heat pump is blowing cold air into your home, it may be in defrost mode.
What Is Defrost Mode?
Most heat pumps have a defrost mode. The outdoor coil on the unit has a temperature sensor on it, and when the temperature hits 31 degrees Fahrenheit, a timer starts. The timer is usually set for 30, 60, or 90 minutes. At the end of the timer, if the temperature is still at 31 degrees or below, the heater pump will initiate its defrost cycle. However, the problem with this is that the defrost cycle sometimes runs even when frost hasn’t formed on the unit. That’s because most heat pumps don’t measure the moisture in the air and can’t predict if frost has actually formed or not. In these cases, the heat pump will blow cold air into the home while in defrost mode.
How Can I Tell If My Heat Pump Is In Defrost Mode?
To test and see if your unit is in defrost mode, go outside and look at the unit. If the fan isn’t spinning, but you can see steam coming from it, it’s in defrost mode.
The Heat Pump Is Malfunctioning
If you’ve determined that neither of the above scenarios is the culprit, your heat pump may have a problem that requires further investigation by an HVAC contractor.
If your unit is leaking refrigerant, make sure to call a licensed HVAC technician to repair it. Refrigerant is a dangerous chemical, and it can harm both you and your unit. The United States Environmental Protection Agency requires that a licensed technician handle any refrigerant leaks.
Faulty Reversing Valve
Your heat pump has a reversing valve which is responsible for directing the flow of the unit’s refrigerant. If the reversing valve malfunctions, your unit may get stuck in cooling mode. This repair is not something you should attempt on your own, as it is a complicated repair. Call a professional heating and cooling technician instead.
Unit is Frozen
If the outdoor unit is frozen completely, multiple components could be causing the problem. If it doesn’t defrost after a few defrost cycles, call a technician to investigate the issue.
Heat Pump Needs Servicing
Heat pumps don’t last forever. If your heat pump is blowing cold air and hasn’t been serviced in over a year, it’s time to schedule maintenance. Most professionals recommend heat pump maintenance once a year. Regular maintenance prevents costly repairs and increases the lifetime of the unit. Call a licensed technician to perform a tune-up and keep that heat pump working well through the winter.
Need Heat Pump Repair? Contact Day & Night Air Today!
If you still can’t decipher what’s causing your heat pump to blow cold air into your home, it’s best to contact a professional to investigate the outdoor unit. Get in touch with us at Day and Night Air to get started on your heat pump repair as soon as possible!