Heat Pump Blowing Cold Air | Refrigeration Heating Troubleshooting

Heat Pump Blowing Cold Air | Refrigeration Heating TroubleshootingWhy is my Heat Pump Blowing Cold Air? | Richard, love your website!! I used a few months ago to install a new thermostat and you cleared some things up with the thermostat wiring colors I had problems trying to figure out. Thanks!! Now I just turned on my heat pump the other night when it was cold outside. I simply wanted to warm the house up a bit since in the day time it gets back up to reasonable temperatures. The heat pump was blowing cold air when the thermostat was set to heat.

I am just wondering if I hooked something wrong hooking up the thermostat or perhaps I have a problem with the heat pump and need to call someone out to fix the problem. Regarding your replay to my original comment, I turned the thermostat up to 80° F. when the house temperature was 72° and the thermostat was set to heat. The supply vents did start blowing warm air. However, when I turn the thermostat back down to 73° F. the heat pump started blowing cold air again. I look forward to your answer. Thanks again for all your help!! Rebecca. (more…)

Energy Star Heat Pumps | Air Source

Energy Star Heat PumpsEnergy Star Heat Pumps | People sometimes ask us what is the difference between a heat pump that is labeled with an Energy Star logo and one that is not labeled with an Energy Star logo. What is the benefit to me for purchasing a heat pump with an Energy Star logo on it? We do keep up with many different HVAC manufacturers and what they offer for equipment they sell (things change so much it is sometimes difficult to keep up). However, we thought we would clarify what Energy Star is and what it means to you when you purchase a heat pump with an Energy Star label. Is it really the best and most efficient heat pump you can purchase? We only show air source heat pumps since they are, by far, the most common types of heat pumps used. (more…)

Rheem Heat Pump Troubleshooting

Rheem Heat Pump Troubleshooting

Rheem Heat Pumps

Rheem Heat Pump Troubleshooting . Richard, I have a Rheem heat pump and it seems like we have the same problems with it every year. We call the HVAC guy out to get it going again but it seems the following year its the same thing over again. He fills the system up with R-22 and its not cheap. Does my heat pump need this every year? Does the heat pump burn Freon like a car burns gas? This is year three and cost of fixing it keeps rising every year. In the Spring when we turn it to cooling we don’t get any cold air. I came across your site and saw that you take questions about HVAC. I appreciate you taking the time to answer my question concerning this matter. What do you suggest? Thanks! (more…)

Heat Pump Leaking Refrigerant Question

Heat Pump Leaking Refrigerant QuestionHeat Pump Leaking Refrigerant Question - I get this question a lot from both my customers and my site visitors. They tell me every year a technician comes out and pump a few pounds of refrigerant into their unit and its good again for another year. A refrigerant leak for an air source heat pump is not uncommon. Or is it? Let us explore the question a bit further and see what really happens when you refill the unit over and over again, year after year. (more…)

Heat Pump Breaker Trips


Heat Pump Breaker Trips - Richard, my breaker keeps tripping for my heat pump. It seems to be a nuisance trip on occasion and it usually happens at the most inopportune time. I am wondering what you think could be the problem to prevent these nuisance trips. I want it fixed so my heat pump is reliable. Thanks!!

In this article you will learn about heat pump main power circuits including the reasons why heat pumps trips the breaker.

Heat Pump Breaker Trips

The Heat Pump Condenser Circuit

This is likely something you cannot repair yourself and it could be dangerous (high voltage) so I recommend calling an HVAC contractor to look at the problem.
The typical split system heat pump (the most common type) with have two separate circuits. One for the air handler and one for the condensing unit.  Consequently, this means you will have two separate breakers in the main power panel, one for the air handler and one for the heat pump condenser. Based on electrical code these breakers, as with each breaker in your panel, should be labeled for the correctly for the appropriate circuit location/appliance. That is not always the case. That is, the panels are not always labeled and when they are labeled they are not always labeled properly. It may be necessary for your HVAC technician to troubleshoot this issue to figure which circuit is tripping, the air handler or the heat pump condenser.

Related Link: Check out our comprehensive article on “How Heat Pumps Work” and “Heat Pump Sequence of Operation” to help you better understand heat pumps.

Heat Pump Breaker Trips

heat pump breaker tripsA breaker trip for any appliance including a heat pump is usually caused by a dead short in the wiring or a motor. I say usually because there are some cases where the breaker was found to be bad or defective and would give nuisance trips. Once the breaker was replaced everything worked fine according to normal specifications. A bad breaker can easily be replaced. However, this should be done by a trained professional and a basic check of other components needs to be done to make sure these components did not cause the breaker to go bad.

Heat Pump Breaker Trips - NEC

The panel in the photo is an open electrical panel with breakers. It is very important that the breakers installed are sized properly for the amp load and wires size. Consult the NEC tables for proper wire sizing based on ampacity. Every electrical component in your electrical system is designed for a specific load or a specific number of amps. A common residential heat pump condenser will have number 10 wire which terminates in the main electrical panel to a breaker specifically sized for the ampacity of the condenser. This ampacity calculation is generally on the heat pump condenser on a label provided by the manufacturer.

Components from the termination at the condenser to the termination in the main electrical panel needs to be sized according to the listed ampacity rating. The ampacity rating is usually list by the manufacturer.This includes wire size, breaker size, and fuse sizes with the fuses being special purpose slow-blow fuses to take into account locked rotor amps (LRA) or starting amps for the compressor.

Troubleshooting electrical breakers should only be done by someone trained in electrical safety. Breakers are inside a high voltage panel and are very hazardous.

Heat Pump Breaker Trips - Reasons Why the Breaker Trips for a Heat Pump

Hear are the basic reasons that will cause your heat pump breaker to trip along with basic explanations:

  • Bad breaker - this is described above. Can also be classified as a loose breaker (described below).
  • A dead short - this is when two wires touch and this could be a bad motor and/or a bad compressor. The windings in the compressor could go bad and when they do they cause a dead short in the windings. A heat pump condenser contains the compressor. If the condenser is fused, it can blow before it trips the breaker. However it can also trip the breaker depending on the sizing of the fuses and the breaker. A dead short can occur in the air handler or the heat pump condenser.
  • Power supply. This can be caused by brown-outs in the summer or by an severe storm with lots of lightening. If some appliances in your home are working properly then you need to call the power company to have them solve this issue for you.
  • Poor maintenance. A dirty clogged air filter or clogged condenser coils will cause the motors and compressor to operate at higher than normal amp draws. The creates a lot of heat from the extra electrical energy used. This not causes a higher power bill but can also lead to heat pump breaker trips. Make sure you properly maintain your heat pump not only to prevent nuisance breaker trips but also to save energy. HVAC preventive maintenance goes a long ways in comfort and energy savings.

Never reset the breaker more than a few times. When a breaker trips continuously it means you have a serious problem that needs to be addressed before the breaker is reset.

Heat Pump Breaker Trips

  • Mechanical lock up of a motor or compressor. A bad bearing or a rusted bearing can cause the motor or compressor to not start and run properly. This creates a lot of friction keeping the motor or compressor from moving freely. This will cause the motor to work harder and create a higher amp draw and more heat.
  • Bad capacitor including start and run capacitors - Capacitors are essential to single-phase motors. Start capacitors and run capacitors are designed to help the motor run more efficiently and in the case of a start capacitor designed to help the compressor start. A bad capacitor can cause heat pump breaker trips.
  • Loose electrical connections - this can include connections in the heat pump itself or even a loose breaker. Loose connections cause a higher than normal power draw. This increases the heat and can lead to other problems that will eventually end in failure of the heat pump.
  • Short cycling - Short cycling of a compressor can cause heat pump breaker trips.

Heat Pump Breaker Trips - Conclusion

Remember, safety is very important and doing any of these things on your own is dangerous. It is best to call a professional to this work and troubleshooting the problem for you. Some people reset the breaker only to have it trip again when the issue recurs. Resetting a tripped breaker over and over again will not solve the root of the problem. Consequently, this needs the attention of a professional.

Heat Pump Breaker Trips

Heat Pump Breaker Trips

To learn more about heating systems and HVAC use this resource.

If you are purchasing new HVAC equipment don't forget to check out our HVAC Consumers Buyers Guide Category for lots of help.

See the About the Author page for information about the author of this article.

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Heat Pump Troubleshooting Advice | Heat Pump Diagnosis & Repair


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Goodman 13 SEER Heat Pump Condensing Unit


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Heat Pump Frost Ice BuildUp | HVAC-Troubleshooting


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Heat Pump Sequence of Operation – HVAC Technical


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Goodman Heat Pump Condenser Flood Protection


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