Heat 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 - 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!!
Heat Pump Breaker Trips
The Heat Pump Condenser Circuit
Heat Pump Breaker Trips
A 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.
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.
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.
Furthermore, additional heat pump resources here:
- Heat Pump Troubleshooting.
- Heat Pump Problems
- Heat Pump Sequence of Operation
- Basic Maintenance for Heat Pumps
- How Heat Pumps Work
- Converting and Air Conditioner to a HeatPump
Additionally, information for circuit breakers can be found here.
Heat Pump Breaker Trips
Heat Pump Troubleshooting Advice. When you have a problem with your heat pump you want to check the basics. Anything beyond that you really need to call in a professional to troubleshoot the heat pump. 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 any other repair there is only so much you can do. (more…)
This Goodman 13 SEER Heat Pump condensing unit is a new installation. The inside Goodman air handler attached to the heat pump condenser via line set was also replaced. It was replaced with this new Goodman heat pump. Its not a good idea to put a new high SEER air conditioner or heat pump condenser without matching it. It should be matched with a properly rated and efficient air handler especially the coil. (more…)
Heat Pump Frost Ice Buildup. Hi. I noticed my that one of my outside heat pump condensing units was laboring throughout the night. This morning I found ice frost buildup on the heat pump condenser fins. I live in Tucson, Az. It has been colder than normal (below freezing) with a bit more moisture in the air than usual as of late. Can you please tell me what causes this frost ice buildup, and how I go about rectifying? Does this mean that the condenser pump is shot? I’m originally from the Midwest, and have never experienced this before. What should I be doing? Thank you for your help. (more…)
Heat Pump Sequence of Operation - Every electrical-mechanical piece of equipment has a sequence of operation. While some manufacturers of heat pumps vary slightly with their heat pump sequence of operation the overall sequence of operation for a heat pump is the same for most manufacturers. So unless you have a special type of heat pump (they are out there – the Acadia heat pump is designed for extreme cold weather temperatures up North like Canada) the sequence of operation for your heating equipment should be very similar to what is described here. This is the basic operation of a heat pump like you will find in conventional heat pumps.
Goodman Heat Pump Condenser Flood Protection . This heat pump condensing unit has been installed atop the platform. The area where this air conditioning condenser is located is prone to flooding. The platform raises the heat pump condenser at least one foot above flood plain. This is usually required depending on the municipality or government agency in charge of mechanical and electrical inspections. If you live in a flood-prone area it is wise to protect the equipment from flood damage. It is possible for the air conditioner condenser unit to run after being flooded. However, the life expectancy is drastically reduced and you will definitely experience mechanical and electrical problems. (more…)
Heating with Heat Pumps | HVAC Systems . There are some people who say that heat pump heat is not as warm as other types of heat. Heating sources such as a hot water boiler or even a steam boiler. Even the forced air gas furnace gets more credit for providing better heat than the heat pump. Heat pumps are extremely popular in the southern states where the heating season is short. Additionally, where the temperature rarely dips below 35 degrees F. (more…)
Air Source Versus Geothermal Heat Pump Heating Systems . A heat pump is an electric cooling and heating system. It is used to compress and decompress gas to heat or cool a house. This mechanical device pumps heat from a cooler to a warmer location. It can extract heat from air, water or the earth. Heat pumps function like an air conditioner in the summer and an electric furnace in the winter. Therefore, encompassing both a heating and a cooling unit in one device. The COP, or coefficient of performance, calculates the ratio of heat output to electric power consumption. Therefore, COP& measures the performance of a heat pump. (more…)
How Heat Pumps Work. Heat Pumps can be a very economical way of heating and cooling your dwelling. It depends on geographical location and the cost of electricity in your area. The volatile costs of natural gas, propane, and oil has enabled these conditions. Conditions where it can be cheaper with a heat pump than with fossil fuels. There is a common conception that a heat pump blows cold air. While this can be true in some cases it is not true. If a heatpump is blowing cold air when in the heating mode then it has a problem. A problem that needs to be corrected. Even when the outside unit kicks into the defrost mode the unit should provide adequate heating. Heating to heat the zones which it serves. Again, if it is not providing adequate heating then it needs to looked at for a technical problem. A problem that needs correcting. A well-designed system, working properly and efficiently, can provide competitive and economical heating. (more…)