Heat Pump Troubleshooting Advice | Heat Pump Problems

Heat Pump Troubleshooting Advice: Before calling a heating and air conditioning company, check the following:

Defrost Board and other controls on an open control panel - Heat Pump Troubleshooting Advice

Defrost Control Board

  • Check selections on thermostat. Ensure that it is set to the desired settings.
  • Check power supply. This can include a circuit breaker and or/a regular looking wall switch close to the unit
  • Check for freezing up of air conditioner or heat pump units. If the air conditioner or heat pump unit is frozen turn it off. Check the air filter(s) and supply vents to make sure they are not obstructed in any way. If you find no problems leave the unit turned off and call a service company.

Heat Pump Troubleshooting Advice – Additional Helpful Hints

  • Always change your filter on a monthly basis
  • Make sure all your supply vents are open and unobstructed
  • Keep area clean around indoor unit especially the return grills
  • Keep outdoor condensing units free of leaves, grass, and debris including trash cans and/or children’s toys or playthings like small plastic pools or playhouses. Additionally your service technician will appreciate you not planting holly bushes near the outside unit
  • Have air conditioner, heat pump, or furnace system serviced every six months

When you have a problem with your heat pump and need to repair the problem you want to check the basics. Anything beyond that you really need to call in a professional to troubleshoot the heat pump or any type of electrical mechanical equipment you have problems with and need to troubleshoot. Whether you call for heat pump troubleshooting or you call for air conditioner repair or you call for refrigerator repair there is only so much you can do.

Heat Pump Troubleshooting Advice – Troubleshoot Heat Pumps

Unit with the top off - condenser fan motor being changed out and inspectedWhen you read information on the web double check that the information is correct.

I read this directly from an un-named article on the internet that has a number one position in a search for troubleshoot heat pumps – “check the heat pumps ignition”. What? Can you say that one more time? It is obvious to me the person who wrote that article has never touched a heat pump in there life and should have never written an article for troubleshooting heat pumps. Can someone please tell me where the igniter is for a heat pump? I’ve was out of the field for a year doing management work and now I am doing engineering work and occasionally going out to the field but I do not think the basic concept of heat pumps has changed that much to include adding ignition systems to heat pumps. If you are going to troubleshoot your own heat pump then please follow the basics above. Beyond that please call a professional to repair your heat pump or troubleshoot your air conditioner.

Some other faulty advice in this bad heat pump repair article is:

  • adjusting and checking the thermostat is necessaryHeat Pump Troubleshooting Advice – “Most of the time when your heat pump doesn’t work it is a faulty thermostat. I’ve been on many service calls and I have found faulty thermostats. Most of the time the reason for a faulty thermostat is because the homeowner thought the thermostat was bad and the decided to change it. For Changing parts, especially the thermostat, simply doesn’t not work most of the time. whatever reason the homeowner didn’t wire it properly or they didn’t turn the power off and crossed the wrong wires and burned up the heating anticipator or blew the transformer. Unless you have had a lightening strike, major power surge that took out other electronic devices in your home, or someone took a hammer to the thermostat then your problem is probably not the thermostat. If you have problems with your heat pump or air conditioner and want to troubleshoot the problem yourself simply check the settings of the thermostat. Make sure it is set to the appropriate setting. Double check to make sure it is set to the appropriate setting. If everything is correct then you are done at the thermostat. Don’t run down to your local hardware store and buy a new thermostat for your heat pump thinking it will solve the problem. Chances are, if you doing it as a part of the process of finding the problem with your heat pump then you will probably still be cold after changing the thermostat in the process of troubleshooting a heat pump. You can change every single part in the heat pump system and still have a problem with the heat pump. Changing parts, especially the thermostat, simply doesn’t work most of the time.
  • no oil plugs on this motor which is variable speedHeat Pump Troubleshooting Advice – “The motor may need to be reset” is another thing that struck me from reading this article for troubleshoot heat pumps – Reset the motor? I have not seen many blower motors that have a reset button on them. There are very few out there that have reset buttons on the blower motor but chances are you do not have the type of motor that has a reset button on it. It seems to me the person who wrote this article read an article on oil furnaces or boilers and tried to adapt it to troubleshooting heat pumps. Oil burners have reset buttons on them but not on the blower – the reset button is on the burner as a part of the burner ignition controls. If there are any manual reset buttons on heat pump it is possible there is a manual reset button on the condensing unit. I know of only two manufacturers that have these reset buttons on their heat pumps. Rheem and Ruud. This is not a reset button for any motor but a high pressure reset switch. If this switch needs to be reset on a heat pump it means the head pressure or the high pressure side of the heat pump is exceeding maximum pressure and is killing the unit as it should to avoid damaging the compressor or other components in the refrigeration loop of the heat pump. This means one of several reasons if you are repairing the heat pump. The condenser coils are plugged up with trash, dirt, or other debris like grass, the condenser fan motor has failed, or there is a refrigeration problem such as an over charge of refrigerant in the system.
  • Heat Pump Troubleshooting Advice – “Heat Pump trips the circuit breaker” – they tell you to check the heat pump circuit breaker in this bad article. Which heat pump breaker do I check? A real heat pump has two circuit breakers in the circuit breaker panel for the home and if the heat pump has electric back up heat then it should have another set of breakers or fuse protection at the location where the heat strips are which is usually in the air handler. Yes, a real heat pump (not the fictional dream heat pump they describe in this heat pump repair article) has two circuit breakers – one for the heat pump condenser and one for the air handler. If the breakers are tripping on the heat pump circuit then you have a dead short somewhere in the system and it needs to be addressed by a professional.
  • “Air Handler Squeals” – they tell you that it is usually the belt. Huh? In the residential market HVAC manufacturers went to direct drive blowers many, many moons ago and stopped distributing units that are belt driven. 99.9% of heat pump air handlers out there installed in homes are direct drive. Finding a belt driven blower in residential systems is akin to to finding a Model T. If you are using a heat pump this old then it is probably time to replace the system and not the belt.


Okay, I’m done commenting on that bad article for finding and fixing a problem heat pumps. Some of the information in that article is okay although general knowledge. If troubleshooting heat pumps is your profession please go ahead and fix it if you have a problem with your heat pump. Chances are you are not a professional HVAC technician so please check the basics and then leave it up to the professional HVAC Technician to troubleshoot the heat pump.

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High Performance HVAC Heat Pump Troubleshooting and Repair Advice

Start Capacitors for HVAC Compressors | Motor Start Assist

Start Capacitors for HVAC Compressors - Start Capacitor with Potential Relay

Start Capacitors for HVAC Compressors

Start Capacitors for HVAC Compressors – HVAC single phase compressors always come hooked up to a run capacitor to help the compressor when it is running however very few HVAC compressors come with a start capacitor. Most HVAC technicians know that the air conditioner or heat pump compressors pulls a lot of amps on start up and this large amount of amperage draw on start up is referred to technically as locked rotor amps or inrush current and can be as much as 40,000 watts or more of pure power to get an HVAC compressor started. That large amount of amperage on the compressor windings over and over again can slowly degrade or eat away at the life of the compressor as it starts over and over again during the summer for the air conditioner and year round for the heat pump. The run capacitor does little to help the compressor on start up so in certain circumstances the manufacturer will recommend installing a start capacitor on new installations and it is a prudent thing to add a start capacitor to older installations where we need to give the compressor a slight boost on start up. There are two ways we can do this job of helping the compressor start. The first method is usually for older installations on compressors that are having issues starting and most technicians use this method when they encounter a compressor with problems. The technicians use a hard start kit which is usually available at the local HVAC supply house and is easily hooked up to the compressor wiring following the directions on the hard start kit wiring diagram. Of course every HVAC tech knows it is important for safety to turn off the power to the unit and discharge any capacitors before proceeding otherwise serious injury or worse can occur. Continue reading

HVAC Jobs and Careers | Heating and Cooling Employment

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HVAC Jobs and CareersHVAC Jobs and Careers – So you want to become an HVAC Technician and want to know how to find a successful career? It’s not easy but here’s some help for you. First of all you need a good foundation of the basics and it would help if you understood the different types of jobs you can find by pursuing a career in HVAC. The education foundation will take you very far and will lead better jobs. To get this foundation you need to study and read. Burn those books up and study so that you can understand basic principles. Take some courses at the local university or trade school and find yourself a job working for an HVAC company. The HVAC books will help you with theory in temperature relationships (Basic physics) and electrical theory which is important to understand if you want go far in the trade. Continue reading

Troubleshooting Broken Thermostats | HVAC Control

Troubleshooting Broken Thermostats

Troubleshooting Broken Thermostats

Troubleshooting Broken Thermostats – The main connection between the air conditioning and heating system and the end user is the thermostat. Beyond the air conditioning and heating thermostat many people know nothing about their systems that keep them comfortable year round. There comes a time when the thermostat has a problem or the end user wants to replace the thermostat because they think it is a broken thermostat. It is not uncommon for a person to call an HVAC contractor and tell the secretary that they think the thermostat is broken because their air conditioner or heating system does not work. In some instances this is the case while in others the thermostat is not broken but something is wrong with the air conditioning and heating equipment that needs to be repaired. In either case it is usually best to call an HVAC professional to look at the problem especially if you want to replace the thermostat. There are a few things you can check with your thermostat before you call an HVAC professional. A little thermostat troubleshooting is in order.

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