Heating Issues? A Heat Pump Troubleshooting Guide To Help Identify Winter Problems

Posted on: 30 November 2021


There are many different reasons as to why you may experience heating issues during the winter months. It could be as simple as one of your breakers being tripped or as serious as a faulty board within the system. With heat pumps, there might be other issues that need to be addressed. Regardless of the issue, it's important to address any heating issues you're experiencing sooner than later. The following heat pump troubleshooting information will help you deal with heating failures this winter:

Refrigerant Leaks

Leaks in a heat pump's refrigerant system can have a big impact on its performance. That's because, as a heat pump works, it moves the heat that it collects from the air outside into your home. Then, after it has collected as much heat from the air as possible, it moves the heat from inside your home back outside through its refrigerant system.

Heat pumps work by moving heat from one area of your home to another. A heat pump's compressor moves this heat between the outside air and inside air through an expansion device (condenser) and back again (evaporator). The liquid that moves this heat is referred to as refrigerant. Refrigerants are composed of hydrocarbons that are highly flammable and potentially toxic; therefore, they must be handled properly by professionals during the repair.

Connection Issues

When a heat pump stops working, the cause is often related to electrical connections. When the system shuts down, the first thing to check is that there isn't a problem with any of the electrical components or house wiring.

When you're troubleshooting a heat pump, here are some electrical issues to consider:

  • Power outage—If a power outage has just occurred, it makes sense to begin by checking your circuit breakers and fuses and resetting anything that has tripped. Many homeowners have experienced a circuit breaker popping before turning on a major appliance like a dryer or dishwasher. That sudden surge in power might be enough to make heating equipment shut down as well.
  • High resistance connections—If your heat pump shuts down intermittently or goes into protection mode, it might be caused by high resistance connections in the unit itself or in the ductwork.
  • Ground fault interrupter (GFI) protection—This safety device interrupts power when there's a problem with a circuit. It can be tripped if something is damaged or missing from inside an appliance or if someone accidentally drops something into the water near the heat pump unit. A GFI-protected outlet might also shut off if too much current flows through it for an extended period of time.

When it comes to the problems that you might have with your heating, electrical issues are where you want to start troubleshooting.

Heating Unit Is Not Operating Properly

If your heating is not working, the heat exchanger may be dirty. The heat exchanger is where the heat transfer takes place, so it makes sense that if this part of the unit is clogged with dirt or other debris, it will not be able to sufficiently transfer heat into the home.

What could cause this dirt buildup? Well, if you have pets in your home, you'll want to look for pet hair that could be clogging up your unit. Pets like to curl up in front of warm air sources and leave their hair behind. If you also have children who like to play on the floor, you could be looking at another possible source of dirt buildup.

You will need to open up the cover of the air handler outside and check for dirt buildup on the coils. You should also make sure that no leaves or other trash has entered the inside of the unit. If you find that there are foreign objects inside your unit, remove them immediately.

Heat pump systems for heating are relatively new and subject to a variety of issues. Contact an HVAC repair service for help with troubleshooting and repairing your system.