With how hot we know the daily temperatures will get around here, the last thing you likely want to do is turn on your heater, right? Yet, if you’re unfortunate enough to have a malfunctioning heat pump, that’s exactly what can happen. If you tried to switch your heat pump to cooling mode only to discover warm air still coming through the vents, then this is very clearly a problem.
It appears as though your heat pump is stuck in heating mode, and you’ll need a trained professional to get it working again. But why does this happen? And what will we do about it? Read on to find out!
Understanding Heat Pump Operation
To understand why and how a heat pump gets stuck in heating mode, you first need to know about how heat pumps work. A heat pump provides chilled air to a home the same way a central air conditioner does. It evaporates refrigerant to pull heat out of your home, then condenses that refrigerant back into liquid form to vent the collected thermal energy outside, while bringing the refrigerant-chilled air inside.
The main difference between a heat pump system and a central air conditioner is that a heat pump reverses the direction that refrigerant flows, depending on what mode it is is. It does this due to a component called the reversing valve, which is actually the main subject of this post—and the main reason your heat pump gets “stuck” in heating mode.
The reversing valve is a four-way valve that rests on the refrigerant line. Inside this valve is a slide, which moves between two positions. In position one, the refrigerant flows one direction and your heat pump cools the home. In position two, the flow is reversed and your heat pump head the home. This slide is controlled by an electromagnet called a solenoid, and this is what pushes and pulls the slide between the two positions.
So naturally, if the reversing valve develops a problem, it may be unable to impact the direction that refrigerant flows through the system, essentially “locking” the heat pump in whatever mode it was in when the problem started—in this case, the heating mode.
Reversing Valve Problems
If your heat pump gets stuck in heating mode, it means there’s a problem with the reversing valve—the slide may be stuck for some reason or the solenoid has lost its charge.
If the slide is stuck, then our professionals need to open the valve and reset it. If it is in fact the solenoid losing its charge, the only option is to replace the solenoid, and potentially the entire reversing valve.
The good news here is that whatever the problem is with the reversing valve or your heat pump in general, we have the know-how to handle it. Give us a call and don’t try to fix this problem on your own—this can oftentimes lead to more harm than good for the heat pump system.