Daytime temperatures haven’t quite reached the point that we need to use our heaters just yet, particularly with the humidity we are still dealing with this time of the year. But maybe you’ve gone to test your heat pump to make sure it’s ready for when you do need it, only to discover that it’s stuck in cooling mode. What can you do?
Before you decide that you must need a new heater and start shopping for a furnace just so you can start feeling warm air coming from your vents, consider that your heat pump might just need a simple repair. We’ve highlighted some common reasons of a stuck heat pump reversing valve below.
Thermostat Programming Error
This probably sounds pretty apparent, but it’s worth mentioning. Sometimes the problem with your heat pump isn’t a problem at all, simply a mistake with the thermostat settings. You might have a set program that is overriding your adjustments.
Check your thermostat and consult the manual that came with it to make sure you have the temperature set correctly so that the heat pump will switch over to heating mode.
A Clogged Air Filter Needs Changing
This is another simple fix. Air filters should be changed every 1-3 months, and should definitely be replaced before the heating season begins. The air filter can pick up a lot of debris during the end of summer and throughout the fall.
If the air filter hasn’t been changed when it should be, it can severely restrict airflow, to the point that it makes it difficult for your heat pump to warm the air. Check your air filters and change it if necessary.
Your Thermostat Temperature Sensors are at Fault
The problem might be the thermostat here, again—but an actual malfunction rather than a programming error on your end. A thermostat that’s miscalibrated might not be able to sense when the temperature in your home is cold enough to register that the heat pump needs to turn on in heating mode. This requires a professional to recalibrate the thermostat or perhaps replace it.
A Broken Reversing Valve
This is the component that actually controls the direction that the refrigerant moves in through the heat pump, and therefore determines what mode your heat pump is in. As you can probably imagine, a broken reversing valve is a major mechanical problem that must be remedied in order to switch your heat pump from cooling to heating mode.
A reversing valve can get stuck due to a broken solenoid or some other mechanical issue, and as a result will stay in its current mode. This issue needs professionals, either to fix the solenoid or in some cases, replace the reversing valve entirely.
Before you tried to switch your heat pump over to heating mode, did you sense any sort of a drop in cooling power? If so, the problem you’re dealing with might be a refrigerant leak. Unfortunately, there’s a pretty common misconception that refrigerant is something that dissipates, like gasoline does from a car. But if you’re losing refrigerant, it means you have a leak—and this can lead to a number of operational problems for your heat pump.