With temperatures dipping into the 50’s at night this past week, you might have decided to use your heater. True, we use it very briefly around our area, but given the contrast in temperature, it can be quite chilly at night without a reliable heating system! So, what if you’re using a heat pump, and all it will do is blow out cold air?
The first thing you want to do if this happens is to check the thermostat to ensure that you actually have it set for heating mode. This may seem apparent, but there’s always a chance that a family member switched it back over, preferring a different temperature than you. Assuming you’ve checked this and the heat pump is blowing out cold air when you’ve switched it over to heat, it likely means that your heat pump is actually stuck in cooling mode, despite what your thermostat is saying. But, how does this happen?
A Broken Reversing Valve
The most common reason a heat pump would be stuck in cooling mode (or heating mode, for that matter) is due to a broken reversing valve. This is a component that sits along your refrigerant line, and is responsible for switching the direction that the refrigerant flows through the lines within the heat pump.
Basically, the reversing valve is what makes a heat pump different from a traditional air conditioner. If it breaks down, you’ll be without a heater and air conditioner—which as any Florida resident knows, is a problem. This will vary on how the manufacturer set the reversing valve’s “relaxed” state, where it doesn’t receive an electric charge, but the point is if you’re not getting heat from your heat pump when you’re supposed to, you have a problem that must be remedied right away.
The good news is, a broken reversing valve is typically an easy fix for a technician. They’ll swap out the old valve for a new one, and new reversing valves are a fairly common component—you can usually count on us to have it on hand for a quick fix. That said though, there’s no reason to wait to call for repairs!
A Thermostat Problem
Another potential cause for a heat pump being stuck in cooling mode is due to a problem with your thermostat. It may be a faulty wiring connecting, which can cause your thermostat to lose its connection to the heat pump, and therefore there’s no signal for the system to begin heating.
This is a “simple” fix for our technicians, but definitely not one you should tackle on your own. Thermostats may be small components, but the wiring that connects them to your heat pump system can be dangerous in the wrong hands. A lack of experience with electrical wiring can lead to property damage or worse, injury.
So, what if the air coming through your vents isn’t cold or hot, but rather lukewarm? In this case, it might not be that your heat pump is stuck in cooling mode at all, but rather that you have a refrigerant leak.
Upon installation, your heat pump should have been supplied with enough refrigerant to last its entire lifecycle. Refrigerant doesn’t “run out” like fuel does—it’s constantly recycled throughout the system. If you’re losing refrigerant though, it means you have a leak and your heat pump can’t work effectively no matter what mode it is in.
If you suspect this to be the problem, the best thing you can do is contact our technicians ASAP to fix it, as a refrigerant leak can lead to a domino effect of other problems with the system, and even a potential full system shut down.