It’s never fun to have your heat pump start to malfunction in the middle of a hot summer day. Yet, that is often exactly the time that heat pump problems tend to happen. Summer places more strain on cooling systems than any other time of year, which means a greater chance of various problems developing. One of the earliest signs that something is wrong with a heat pump is dropping output capacity. If your heat pump is not circulating as much cool air as it should, you should know some of the possible reasons why. Let’s check out a few of them below.
Your heat pump cools your home using refrigerant. The indoor unit evaporates refrigerant to absorb thermal energy from the air in the ducts, while the outdoor unit condenses refrigerant to vent the absorbed heat out of the home. The system does not consume refrigerant during this process, but recycles it back and forth. A refrigerant leak causes the output capacity of the system to fall along with the available refrigerant. Eventually, the refrigerant level in the system will drop low enough that it cannot continue operating. Make sure that you call for repairs if you notice fluid dripping from your system along with low cooling/heating output.
Clogged Air Filter
Your heat pump contains an air filter, which sits at the junction between the system and the home’s ducts. The filter is there to protect the heat pump from dust and other contaminants commonly found in the ductwork of a home. While the filter is good at protecting the system, it has no way to get rid of the contaminants that it collects. If the air filter is not changed every few months, it will eventually become clogged. This blocks most of the air flow from making it into the heat pump, cutting down on the system’s ability to circulate cool air. The good news is that this is easily fixed. Just switch out the old air filter with a new one every three months or so, and that should prevent the problem from happening.
Short cycling is what happens when your heat pump is unable to complete a full cooling cycle. It turns on, runs for a minute or two, and then turns off again. This could be caused by an electrical issue in the system, or due to a damaged compressor. Short cycling has both short term and long term consequences for your heat pump. Short term, the system won’t be able to cool the home effectively because it won’t be able to complete a cooling cycle. Long term, the constant stopping and starting will make it much more likely for parts to break down under the increased strain. If the issue isn’t dealt with in time, it can shorten the lifespan of the system substantially.