Although it’s pretty much hot year-round in our area, if you’re reading this blog post it means you used your heat pump in heating mode at least briefly this past winter. So, as the weather warms back up to what we’re used to, you might be ready to switch your heat pump back over to cooling mode.
But what if that just doesn’t seem to happen? A heat pump stuck in one mode or the other is actually a pretty common problem with these systems, especially if they’re aging or haven’t been well-maintained (remember, because this is a year-round HVAC system, it needs biannual maintenance tune-ups).
Read on as we dive into what may be going on if your heat pump won’t switch from heating mode to cooling mode.
One of the most basic reasons for a problem with a stuck heat pump is that the thermostat lost its connection to the reversing valve. We’ll talk more about the reversing valve in a moment!
Your thermostat uses different electrical wire connections to turn different components of the heat pump on and off, and if that thermostat can’t operate there reversing valve, the heat pump will then stay in one mode.
Another possibility is that the heat pump isn’t properly sensing temperatures, and is recording temperatures indoors as lower than they actually are. This will prevent the thermostat from actually turning the heat pump over to cooling mode unless the temperature is extremely high inside, or if the thermostat is set really low.
Our technicians can recalibrate your thermostat for you in order to resolve this.
You Have a Broken Reversing Valve
The reversing valve we mentioned above is a key part of the heat pump that makes it stand out from a conventional central air conditioner. The reversing valve is the component that controls the direction of refrigerant flow after that refrigerant exits the compressor. Depending on which direction the refrigerant moves, the heat pump will be in either heating mode or cooling mode.
Since the reversing valve is a mechanical component, it can wear down or become stuck. When this occurs, the heat pump can’t switch between modes. This can require a larger repair… in most cases, the reversing valve needs to be replaced.
“What If My Air Is Cool, Just Not Cool Enough?”
If your heat pump system seems to be putting out cooler air than in heating mode, but not enough that it’s actually cooling down your home, the problem can be a clogged air filter, or the heat pump is short-cycling (turning off before it finishes a full cooling cycle).
If replacing your air filter (something you should be doing every 1-3 months, depending on the type of filter and level of contaminants in your home) does not solve the problem, then it’s time to call a technician to get to the root of the problem.