Have you noticed any changes in the way your heat pump operates?
If so, it can be challenging to figure out the issue. You might see a difference in airflow in some of your registers or no air coming through. Maybe you’ve noticed that your heat pump is running a lot longer or shorter than it usually would. Sounds or smells you haven’t seen before could also indicate that something is wrong. These can all be signs that your heat pump might need to be repaired.
At Fire & Ice, we’ve worked on hundreds of HVAC systems in Gahanna, OH, and have seen every problem imaginable. Unless we’re performing routine maintenance and come across an issue, we rely on you to alert us when something is wrong.
It is always a good practice to be alert and monitor your heat pump. If you can alert us to a minor issue as quickly as possible, you can potentially save yourself a repair bill into the thousands.
If you alert us to a minor problem that can be fixed quickly, you may have saved yourself a later repair bill in the thousands. You may even keep your system from breaking down completely.
In this text, we discuss the most common changes in your heat pump’s performance that you may notice.
Air Duct Cleaning Services in Gahanna From Fire & Ice
Dirty air ducts are a leading cause of several problems faced by homeowners. Dust, dirt, mold, odors, allergens, and other irritants can make indoor air unhealthy. Getting your air ducts cleaned can help to prevent this.
In addition, your HVAC system will run longer and more efficiently with clean air ducts. To get started, click here.
First, we’re going to cover what a heat pump is and how you can tell the difference between that and an air conditioner or traditional HVAC system.
What Is a Heat Pump?
A heat pump is part of a heating and cooling system that can provide both heat and air conditioning and is installed outside of your home. They are powered by electricity and use refrigerant to transfer hot and cool air to the inside of your home. They are also more environmentally friendly because they are not powered by fossil fuels.
What’s the difference between a heat pump and an air conditioner?
The main difference between a heat pump and a traditional air conditioner is their operation. A heat pump can both heat and cool while an air conditioner can only cool. An air conditioner will also always be paired with a furnace to make a complete heating and cooling system. A heat pump can be paired with an auxiliary electric heater or an electric furnace if needed.
Signs Your Heat Pump May Need Repairs
The Heat Pump takes longer to Heat and Cool
This might not be obvious until there’s a period of hot weather when the outside temperature lingers above 90 degrees for days at a time. When the heat pump runs continuously, it should be a signal to you that something is wrong.
Over time, the heat exchanger can accumulate dirt, soot, and other debris. In Central Ohio, we see this a lot with cottonwood seeds. This means that your heat pump has to work harder and run longer to cool your home. Your HVAC technician can address this by cleaning your heat exchanger.
Many factors could be causing your heat pump to lose efficiency—a dirty filter, failing parts, parts that need lubrication, etc. Sometimes your heat pump needs attention. A sudden spike could be a sign of trouble.
Noises Coming from your Heat Pump
A host of things can be responsible for strange noises: the compressor, the contactor, the blower motor, etc. If it’s not a hole in the ductwork or your filter rattling, a call to an HVAC technician is in order.
A Humid Feeling in the Summer
Your heat pump doesn’t just cool the house in the summer by removing hot air. It also removes humidity. And if there’s a problem, the indoor moisture might creep up past comfortable levels. If you have a thermostat that can track the indoor relative humidity, keep an eye on it.
An Ice Buildup on the Heat Pump
Ice can form on your heat pump if the refrigerant falls below freezing, caused by faulty wiring or a dirty coil. This will cause poor performance and even a complete failure. Scraping or chiseling ice from your unit could exacerbate the problem. It needs to defrost, and the problem causing the ice needs to be addressed by a professional.
Water pooling near the furnace or air handler
If you notice any water near your furnace or air handler during the summer, the seal on your evaporator coil might have gone bad. Your evaporator coil is the indoor component of your air conditioner or heat pump. The evaporator coil produces moisture – that’s why your air conditioner/heat pump has a drain. If it isn’t properly sealed, this moisture could leak on and around your furnace.
Look for any condensation outside of your ducts.
The most common reason for water under your furnace is a clogged condensation drain. Your HVAC partner should be able to do an evaluation and ensure that your furnace isn’t damaged.
A strange smell inside the vents
Dirty Sock Syndrome is caused by mold and bacteria built up on your heat pump. Specifically, this buildup occurs in the system’s evaporator coil, housed indoors.
Basements are typically damp and dark. These are the perfect conditions for mold and bacteria growth. While a heat pump is designed to handle moisture, the internal components can become dirty and accrue dirt and other particles like anything else in the home.
For mold and bacteria to accumulate, they need organic material and moisture. The dust and dirt that exist throughout any home, and the particulates collected by air filters, provide plenty of organic materials (most house dust is made of dead skin cells). Unfortunately, the other part of the equation is moisture, which can be found in most homes, particularly during humid months. The result is buildup and a powerful odor referred to as dirty sock syndrome.
The drain pan can become plugged up or sometimes starts collecting dirt that can lead to bacteria or mold. Ensuring that it’s clean is an excellent precautionary measure.
Vents are Blocked
This could be due to a significant collection of dust/mold. Or you might have a nest of some sort. It is not uncommon for ducts to become disconnected or damaged. Pieces of an air filter or insulation may have gotten dislodged and wound up in the ducts. Inspecting the ducts can sort that out, and a duct cleaning may be in order.
Besides a loss of comfort, a blocked vent increases static pressure, which strains the entire unit.
Will Your Heat Pump Run Without Repairs?
If your system is currently running, but you’ve noticed a drop in heating or cooling quality, or it’s begun to make new noises, it may run fine for a day, or maybe it can run for five years. It might not be as efficient as it can be, but it can run. You can put repairs off, but you might have a more extensive bill later.
The best-case situation is that you have a slightly noisier system than it was at one time. While it may not last another five years, it could continue to run adequately for several years with proper maintenance. An easy repair could have your system running smoothly again.
The worst case is that the noise is coming from something affecting the entire system's integrity. In addition, a simple repair may not be enough; if a major component needs to be replaced, you might face a bill of $1,000 or more.
Sometimes the unit system can operate, and if it’s monitored, it won’t pose an immediate risk to the entire system’s operation. However, you’ll lose efficiency and comfort in the process.
It’s important to remember the lifespan of a heat pump is about half that of an air conditioner or furnace. This is because your heat pump does double duty - heating and cooling. Furnaces can last 25 years or more. A heat pump lasts 15 years on average.
Heat Pump Repair Options in Gahanna, Ohio
While regularly changing your filter and scheduling routine maintenance is good advice for any HVAC system component, if you’re dealing with anything unfamiliar or any of the signs listed above, it’s time to set up an appointment with a technician.
Not taking that step could result in a high electric bill, the premature failure of your system, and an uncomfortable house. Having a conversation with a licensed HVAC partner is an excellent first step.
At Fire & Ice, we believe in doing the work right the first time. Whether it’s a repair or replacement, we have the expertise and knowledge to get your system working efficiently and quietly to provide the maximum comfort level to your home.
If you’re ready to schedule an in-home service in Gahanna, OH, or the surrounding area, give us a call.