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Heat pump troubleshooting

Heat pump troubleshooting can mean the difference between the need to replace the heat pump and simply repairing the system.

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Heat pump troubleshooting. Photo by lisafx on iStockphoto.When your heat pump isn't heating and cooling properly, heat pump troubleshooting can mean the difference between the need to replace the heat pump and simply repairing the system.

Before you call a contractor, take some time to learn how to check a heat pump for basic problems you can fix on your own.

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Check for obvious problems

If you switch your unit on and it doesn't generate sufficient heat, check for obvious problems first. Make sure you chose the right heat pump and are using the right size of unit for your property. Outside of improper sizing, common problems include:

    • The unit isn't plugged in properly.
    • A fuse is blown, cutting power to the unit.
    • Filters are dirty, blocking airflow.
    • The thermostat isn't functioning or set properly. 

If you've checked for these problems and have come up empty, it's time to do some more detailed heat pump troubleshooting.

Perform regular maintenance

The next step in heat pump troubleshooting is determining if regular maintenance has been performed properly and, if not, getting maintenance up to date. When checking maintenance, you should do the following things:

    • Clean debris off updraft fans in the outdoor portion of the unit.
    • Replace filters on the heat pump.
    • Lubricate the components of the heat pump.
    • Ensure the outdoor unit is level on its concrete support pad.
    • Check and replace any worn piping insulationInspect and repair any worn heat pump wiring.

If regular maintenance has been performed properly, you should move on to checking for other problems, such as power interruptions.

Troubleshooting power interruptions

If the power has been cut to the heat pump for more than an hour and the temperature was 50 degrees or lower, you'll need to leave the unit off for six to eight hours. In this situation, the lubricant in the unit might not circulate properly, and running the unit can damage its valves, creating an expensive repair situation.

To warm up the lubricant, put the pump on the emergency heat setting. Turn the unit back on after six to eight hours, and check for heat.

If it's still not generating heat, you'll need the help of a professional.

When to call a contractor

If you've tried heat pump troubleshooting and have come up with nothing, it's time to call a contractor. First, check to see if your heat pump is under warranty. If it is, you can replace heat pump components and get the needed repairs without extra cost.

If it's not, call a contractor to explain your heat pump problems. The contractor will give you a heat pump estimate for repair, and you can decide if repairing or replacing the system is best.

As with air conditioning problems and learning how to troubleshoot a split system, heat pump problems can be difficult to diagnose. Remember, always start with basic heat pump troubleshooting. But if you're getting nowhere with your own ideas, call a professional to help. 

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Photo credit: lisafx on iStockphoto.