With summer right around the corner and temperatures warming up, it’s time to start thinking about our air conditioners. If you have a heat pump system, this means scheduling a tune-up for the system, even if you had one done last fall. The reason for this is because a heat pump is a year round system. So while a standard central air conditioner or furnace needs maintenance once a year, your heat pump needs it every six months.
Whether you had maintenance done already or not though, the fact is that if you went to turn on your heat pump to cool you off, and it’s stuck in heating mode, you have a problem on your hands! Read on to learn what’s going on.
How a Heat Pump Operates
To understand how this problem happens, it’s first important to understand how a heat pump actually works. Heat pumps cool your home the same way a standard central air conditioner would: it evaporates refrigerant to siphon heat from inside the home and condenses it back into liquid to vent the collected thermal energy outside.
The difference between this traditional air conditioner and a heat pump is that a heat pump can reverse the direction that refrigerant flows through the system. It can do this because of a component called the reversing valve.
This valve is a four-way component that sits in the refrigerant line. Inside the valve is a slide that moves between two positions. In one position, the refrigerant flows one direction in order for your heat pump to be in cooling mode, while in the other position it is reversed to be in heating mode.
This is all possible thanks to an electromagnet component called a solenoid, which pulls and pushes it between the two positions. If there’s a problem with your reversing valve, it may struggle to change the direction that the refrigerant flows through the system. This can lock the heat pump in whatever mode it was in when the problem began, which in your case if you’re reading this post was probably heating mode.
Reversing Valve Problems
If your heat pump gets stuck in heating mode, it likely means that there is a problem with the reversing valve. There are two possible culprits. First, it’s possible that the solenoid is stuck for some reason. If this is the case, the valve will need to be opened by a pro so they can reset it.
The second possibility is that the solenoid lost its charge and it’s no longer able to move the slide. If this is indeed the problem, the only option is to replace the solenoid and restore everything to its proper function.
Regardless of what’s caused your heat pump to get stuck in one mode or the other, you’ll need a professional to take care of the problem. It may seem like a simple fix to just look up an online video for and do yourself, but this can end up doing more harm than good.