With summer in full swing, you’re probably relying on your heat pump for most of the daylight hours to keep you cool. As you rely on your heat pump more and more, the added demand increases the wear and tear on the system. That makes it more likely for problems of various kinds to occur with the system. You don’t want your system to break down on you in the middle of a hot summer day, we assume. So, to avoid that happening, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the signs that your heat pump is starting to have issues. Have a look at some of the more common heat pump problems below, and their warning signs.
Air Handler Failure
The air handler is the part that enables the heat pump to circulate air around the house while it’s operating. It’s little more than a large motor with a fan attached to it. The air handler motor moves quite a lot of air during the average heat pump cooling cycle, so it uses lubricated bearings to help reduce friction on itself. These bearings will wear down over years of use, eventually causing a serious increase in friction on the motor. As the friction increases, the motor will start to make a loud grinding sound. If you hear this sound, you need to call for repairs right away. If the bearings are not replaced in time, the motor could overheat and burn out.
Refrigerant is a generic term for the heat transfer fluid that the system uses to cool the home. The heat pump evaporates and condenses refrigerant between its two units to move heat back and forth between the home and the outside environment. The system uses the same charge of refrigerant it gets when it’s first installed throughout its entire life. A refrigerant leak, therefore, is a rather serous issue.
If a leak develops in refrigerant line, the cooling capacity of the heat pump will drop as the refrigerant level decreases. Eventually, the level will drop so low that the heat pump can’t continue operating at all. With that in mind, you should have a professional examine your system if you notice fluid dripping from it. It’s also a good idea to call for repairs if you notice a marked drop in output from the system.
One of the most dangerous issues that can afflict a heat pump is short cycling. Short cycling is when the system turns itself on and off every few minutes, before it can complete a full cooling cycle. This cuts down on the system’s cooling output significantly, but it also dramatically increases the wear and tear on the various parts of the heat pump. If it isn’t taken care of, short cycling can cause increased repair costs and shorten the lifespan of the system by a number of years. Make sure that you shut the system down and have a professional examine it as soon as you notice this happening.