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How To Tell if Your Heat Pump is Working

by Carrie / August 31, 2020

Heat pumps fall into the category of household appliances people don't think much about. That is, until they're not working properly. Most of the time, the only indication something is wrong is that the house isn't as warm as it should be.

The good news is that heat pump repairs are often simple, as long as you know what to look for. Of course, a regularly-serviced heat pump generally requires fewer repairs and will have a longer lifespan than one that isn't. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends that heat pumps be serviced by a professional at least once a year. Still, even meticulously-maintained heat pumps can occasionally malfunction.

Heat Pump Red Flags

  • Making noises - Heat pumps run quietly, so it's easy to detect unusual noises. The problem associated with a particular noise varies tremendously. If you hear grinding or squealing, there's likely a serious problem requiring professional repairs, such as a failing motor bearing. On the other hand, rattling could be caused simply by parts not being screwed on tightly enough. Check that all panels are screwed in securely and no loose pieces are inside the handler.

  • Not blowing warm air - In some cases, your heat pump blows air just fine — but it isn't warm. This could be caused by something as simple as a dirty air filter, or something more complicated like a malfunctioning thermostat or obstructed air duct. To diagnose the problem, first check your air filter and change it if necessary. Then set the thermostat a few degrees higher than the current temperature and feel the air coming out of each vent in your home. If it's warm in some rooms and not in others, there's a good chance something is blocking one of the ducts. Visibly check the ones you have access to for debris. If this isn't the issue or cold air is coming from all vents, it's time to call a professional, as you likely have a more serious problem.

    Cold dog bc furnace not blowing warm air
  • Short-cycling - A number of things can cause a heat pump to constantly cycle on and off, or short-cycle. The issue is often fairly simple, such as a thermostat that needs to be re-calibrated or a faulty blower, but you don't want to ignore it. Short-cycling can quickly cause a heat pump to overheat and become badly damaged.

  • Freezing up - It's totally normal for heat pumps to develop a thin layer of ice in the winter. In fact, they have automatic defrost modes to combat ice and melt it when this happens. However, if your unit or coils get covered by a solid coating of ice, that's not normal. Along the same lines, ice forming on a heat pump in the summer indicates a problem. Ice, particularly when it's thick or appears quickly, can cause substantial, often irreparable damage to a heat pump. If you notice your unit covered in ice, shut it down immediately to prevent serious damage and call a professional to come have a look at it.

  • Increasing utility bills - This is one of the more subtle signs that there's a problem with your heat pump, so it can easily go unnoticed. If your home's utility bills increase for seemingly no reason, that may indicate your heat pump isn't running efficiently. If it's overdue for routine service, it may be working too hard, driving the increase on your heating bill. When running properly, heat pumps are incredibly energy-efficient, so even a small increase is worth looking into.


If you're concerned with how well your heat pump is working, or even if you just want to have it inspected before the cold weather arrives in Denver, reach out to us today!

We've been in the heating/furnace repair and installation business for over two decades and we take great pride in helping our clients stay safe and comfortable.

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