Each year we get many calls and questions about heat pumps. We will attempt to answer some in this blog.
Why is My Heat Pump not Keeping Up?
In cold, rainy and snowy weather, your heat pumps may have problems keeping up. The Auxiliary Heat will probably come on. This is normal. The outdoor unit may form ice and may then go into a defrost cycle occasionally where it will go into cooling; the outdoor fan motor will cycle off while it is in defrost mode. The defrost cycle will not be on long then the unit will cycle back into heat pump mode.. If steam forms during the defrost cycle, don't panic it is not smoke and is normal.
Why is there water around my Heat Pump Condenser?
When you notice water around your condenser unit (outside unit) during the winter, it is normal. The outdoor unit operates as the evaporator coil in the heating mode. As such it removes water from the surrounding air as the air temperature drops. Occasionally the unit will go into defrost to thaw out this water that has frozen on the coils. That is where the water comes from.
Why is my Heat Pump making a Noise?
Another common heat pump question: What is the sudden air noise, like a busted tire, that occurs at the outdoor unit? The heat pump has a valve in it that switches the flow of refrigerant between the indoor coil and the outdoor coil. This valve is operated by electricity as well as the pressure differential between the high pressure and low pressure sides of the unit. When the valve is energized, it will shift the pilot-piston and the pressures push the main piston/valve and the pressures equalize briefly. When the valve is de-energized it shifts back, making the noise again. Most manufactures have the valve energized in cooling mode; Rheem/Ruud energizes their reversing valves in heating mode.
Why is my A/C Unit on Fire?
In years past, we've gotten multiple calls from customers telling us their Heat Pump Condensing units were on fire. When the heat pump goes into defrost mode, it will often make vapor of the water accumulated on the coil. It may look like smoke, it is not. When it is in defrost, the outdoor fan does not run. This is to make the defrost cycle as short as possible. When it goes out of the defrost cycle, the fan will come back on. By the way, when it goes into and out of the defrost cycles, the reversing valve will operate, making the air whooshing noise we spoke about above.
It's Sleeting, should I worry about my Air Conditioner?
When we have freezing rain ice will form on your heat pump. This is normal and the defrost should take care of it unless we get lots of precipitation...The big concern is if enough ice forms so the fan blade hits it as it runs. If this happens, turn off the breaker to your Heat pump and leave your Air Handler on. Put your system to "Emergency Heat Mode" and you should be comfortable. If you leave the thermostat in heat pump mode instead of emergency heat mode, the heat strips will still come on just 3 degrees lower than you want the heat setting on for.
Jonathan Smith has been in the Air Conditioning and Heating industry for well over 30 years and has spent more than 27 years in the Electrical industry.