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The A/C Guy of Tampa Bay Inc. Blog

Why Is My Heat Pump Only Sending Out Cold Air?


One of the nice features of heat pumps is that they easily switch between heating and cooling modes. You don’t need to make changes to the heat pump itself when you need warmth from it after months of cooling. All that has to happen is an adjustment on the thermostat, and the thermostat signals the heat pump to change modes. That’s a reason heat pumps in Tampa, FL are popular options: we can quickly leap to heating during the short periods when we need it, then go right back to cooling.

But a heat pump can malfunction like any other device, and you might find that when you need heat for your house that the heat pump is still working in air conditioning mode and sending cool air from the vents. Why is this happening?

A Thermostat Issue

You’ll probably check the thermostat first when the heat pump is stuck sending out cool air. Make sure there isn’t an older summer setting that’s overriding the current one, and check that the system isn’t in “fan only” mode. If everything appears fine outwardly with the thermostat, the problem might be that the thermostat is malfunctioning. A common problem that can lead to a thermostat trapping the heat pump in one mode is that it’s misreading household temperatures as warmer than they are. 

Another possibility is that the connection between the thermostat and the reversing valve (see below) has failed, so no matter what changes you make to the thermostat, it won’t signal the heat pump to move between modes. You’ll need repair experts to find out if the thermostat is causing the problem and then either repair or replace the thermostat.

A Faulty Reversing Valve

The most common heat pump trouble that can cause it to become trapped in cooling mode (or vice versa) is a malfunctioning reversing valve. This valve is a key component that makes a heat pump different from a standard air conditioning system: it’s what changes the direction that refrigerant moves through the heat pump so it can switch between cooling and heating modes.

If the valve becomes physically stuck, it will only allow refrigerant to circulate one direction, trapping it in that mode. It might be an electrical problem with the solenoid so that it’s not energizing and changing modes. Or, the valve may be stuck because it’s leaking, and this is an extremely serious problem, because not only will this stop the heat pump from switching modes, it puts the whole system in jeopardy because of a drop in refrigerant pressure. (A heat pump must work with a set refrigerant charge, and any loss puts it in danger.) 

You don’t want to attempt to fix a reversing valve yourself, since you’ll likely end up damaging it further or even causing a refrigerant leak (if there wasn’t one already). Get our technicians on the problem, and they’ll have it fixed fast and correctly so you can enjoy the exact temperature you want from your heat pump.

Serving Our Tampa Bay Family With Integrity and Honor: The A/C Guy of Tampa Bay Inc. Schedule heat pump service with our experts.

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