Troubleshooting and Repairing your Heat Pump

Heat Pump Repair and Maintenance Guide

This guide covers common heat pump problems. You’ll learn when it’s best to troubleshoot issues on your own or seek professional help. You’ll also learn preventative maintenance to avoid costly repairs and ensure reliable performance from your heat pump.

Common heat pump problems

Below we cover the six most common heat pump problems and how to address them. 

Heat pump not working at all

Several issues may prevent a heat pump from turning on. Here are a few areas that you should inspect:

  • Make sure that the heat pump is receiving power. If your heat pump is connected to a power switch, make sure it is switched to ON. The power switch is usually located on the wall near the unit or within the air handler cabinet.
  • Check whether the thermostat is correctly set for heating or cooling. If you recently replaced the thermostat, then make sure it’s properly connected to the unit. 
  • Check for any tripped circuit breakers or blown fuses. If needed, flip the breaker or replace the bad fuse. If the tripping continues, there is likely a short somewhere in the electrical system. A technician can help you diagnose and resolve the issue.
  • Working with the electrical components of the heat pump is hazardous and can result in additional repair costs if you lack experience. We recommend consulting a local HVAC professional to help with electrical problems. 

Repair Cost: The general cost of heat pump repairs ranges from $100 to $400.

Blower not working

If the outdoor unit of your heat pump turns on but your air handler isn’t blowing air, then the blower is likely the problem. Here are the areas you should inspect:

  • Check if the blower motor is working. If the compressor is working and the fan isn’t, then the motor or the capacitor may be burned out. In this case, it is advisable to call a technician to handle the repair.
  • If the motor is working but the blower isn’t moving air, then the problem could be due to a broken belt that connects the two. Replacing the belt should resolve the issue. However, it is best to leave this repair to an HVAC professional.
  • If the plenum is too hot, then the limiting switch on the heat pump might have turned the unit off. In such cases, turn OFF the fan switch from the thermostat or set it to Auto. If the fan switch is OFF or in Auto mode already, try flipping the limiting switch to see if the blower starts working again.

Repair Cost: For issues related to a malfunctioning blower, repair costs usually range from  $100 to $500.

The system does not provide effective heating or cooling

If you’re using the unit for a set temperature and the heat pump provides much cooler air, then inspect the following:

  • Make sure that the thermostat is set correctly. Set the temperature two to four degrees higher or lower than the room temperature and wait for a few minutes to feel hot or cold air.
  • Check the air filter; if it is clogged or dirty, clean or replace it.
  • Clean the outdoor coils and supply and return registers, and inspect the ducts for any blockages.
  • Check the outdoor coils for ice or frost. If you find any ice or frost, then the defroster or control module is likely defective and a technician should help you replace the component.
  • A heat pump running low on refrigerant can also lead to inefficient cooling or heating. Make sure to charge the system with the correct refrigerant and inspect it for any leaks.
  • Inefficient heating or cooling may also be the result of a faulty reversing valve or blower. Consult with an HVAC professional if the above steps don’t work.

Repair Cost: The costs of fixing a cooling or heating issue range from $50 to $600, depending on the parts needing replacement.

Heat pump turns ON and OFF quickly

If your heat pump is frequently turning on and off, then the problem is likely due to a clogged air filter. Cleaning or replacing the filter should solve the problem. If that doesn’t work, then the issue could be with the blower or a thermostat, in which case a technician can help you diagnose and fix the problem.

Repair Cost: Repairing a blower motor can cost around $150, while fixing a faulty thermostat costs about $150 to $200.

Heat pump makes an unusual noise

A heat pump involves several mechanical components, so it will generate some noise. However, if you hear humming sounds, it is possibly due to loose hardware. In this case, tightening the cover panels should resolve the issue.

If your heat pump is making grinding, clanking, or squealing sounds, then the problem might be severe. We recommend immediately turning off the unit and calling an HVAC technician.

Repair Cost: The cost of fixing noise-related issues varies by the component that needs repair or replacement. For example, replacing a defective compressor costs about $1,200, while valve replacement averages between $400-$600.

Heat pump freezes up

Heat pumps have a built-in mechanism to prevent the outdoor coils from freezing. Therefore, if your heat pump freezes up, then the problem is likely severe and must be addressed by an HVAC professional. The following conditions commonly lead to ice build-up:

  • Restricted airflow resulting from a clogged air filter or obstructions around the outdoor unit
  • Excessive moisture resulting from leaking gutters over the heat pump
  • Low refrigerant or refrigerant leakage
  • Faulty sensors and thermostat
  • Defective defrost system
  • Damaged blower motor

Repair Cost: Repairing a frozen heat pump involves adding refrigerant to the system, which costs around $75 to $150, or replacing the defrost timer, which costs about $200 to $250.

General maintenance tips for heat pump

You can extend the life and efficiency of your heat pump by performing the following preventative maintenance

  • Clean the clogged filters or replace them once every month, or as recommended by the heat pump manufacturer.
  • Keep the outdoor unit free from ice and debris. Make sure to check the unit regularly for such build-ups, especially during bad weather.
  • Do not cover the vents and registers with mats or carpets, and keep furniture and other objects away from indoor units to avoid blocking airflow.
  • Ensure that the outdoor unit is clear from shrubs and plants for proper airflow.
  • Regularly inspect the ducts for any leakages.
  • Inspect the unit for refrigerant leaks.
  • Check for loose electrical connections and, if necessary, clean and tighten them.
  • Make sure to turn the unit ON at least once every season when not in use.
  • Schedule maintenance with an HVAC professional once every year.

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