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Understanding Your Heat Pump: Compressor Problems

A heat pump compressor is vital for both heating and cooling your home. It’s part of your larger HVAC system, which includes a condenser, evaporator, refrigerant and vales/switches/thermostat. The heat pump has a small but essential piece that compresses and pumps the refrigerant, which is part of the ongoing cycle of your HVAC unit.

Small but mighty, heat compressors can cause giant problems if not maintained properly. Read on to learn more about what your heat pump does, how to clue in to symptoms of failure and how Dynamic Air Services can help you out with install or replacement.

Common Heat Pump Compressor Issues

Most commonly, you’ll notice that there’s an issue with your HVAC if your home is cooling or heating properly. In our hot climate, it’s likely you’ll notice hot spots in your home or just can’t keep the temp low enough, even though the thermometer is set. Any of these issues indicate a bigger problem. The compressor itself could be the culprit. There are three main kinds of heat pump compressor problems you may be facing:

  1. Electrical
  2. Pressure
  3. Motor

These will show up in a few different ways and require different fixes.

Electrical HVAC Problems

Electrical issues could show up as frequent cycling. This means that your heat pump turns on and off all through the day. You could notice this by the sound, if you’re home. If you’re not home, you may not notice this is happening until you get your energy bill. In addition to decreasing efficiency and pointing to a larger problem, heat pumps that are cycling like this are using a lot of energy.

Heat pump compressors perform a primary function of taking the liquid refrigerant and compressing it so that it turns back to a gaseous state. That technical process is what pushes the hot air out of your home and the cool air in. While the unit naturally turns on and off in the course of action (and doesn’t run continuously), it should run for about 15 minutes each time it turns on. If you’re getting quick starts and stops, it’s a waste of energy and could be an electrical issue.

Pressure HVAC Problems

Compression is part of the name and role of a heat pump compressor. Evaporator pressure has to stay at a certain level for your heat pump compressor to work properly. Gaseous refrigerant is depressurized in the evaporator. Hot liquid refrigerant cycles into a condenser, where it is cooled. The heat pump compressor assists this complex and essential act. If the pressure is off in any of the insulated tubes or there is an issue with the evaporator or condenser, the compressor can’t do its job. This could lead to both minor and major malfunctions.

Motor Problems With Your Heat Pump Compressor

If a compressor motor has died, it won’t turn at all. The way to notice this is if your fan is on but not blowing cool air. All you have to do is put your fan near a vent to learn if this is a problem. If the air coming out is warm or if your home isn’t maintaining a cool temperature, your heat pump compressor may not be operating at all.

More Heat Pump Malfunctions

There are a few instances in which you’ll have a variation of the problems above or something else entirely. Just so you’re in the know about what you’re looking at, here are some extra scenarios that could help you troubleshoot.

Summer Icing: heat pump compressors deal with refrigerant in both liquid and gas states. This is a chemical that takes huge temperature swings. Even in the summer, some issues could cause your heat pump compressor to freeze. This can happen on both the indoor and outdoor units. If you’re seeing actual frost on the coils, you may be looking at a clogged filter or extremely dirty coils. This keeps the heat from transferring like it should and can cause long-term damage to your unit.

Constantly running: if your heating and cooling is running constantly (regardless of the thermostat), this may be an equipment size issue. A heat pump that is running all of the time is insufficient in some way. It could be leaking refrigerant, have frozen coils or a compressor issue. Sometimes a unit is simply the wrong size for your home or building. That means that no matter how many times you get it maintenance, it simply isn’t up to the task of heating or cooling your entire space. If that’s the case, it’s time for an upgrade – contact us to get an expert HVAC tech on board to fit your space and get you the right unit.

Clogs and obstructions: there are numerous pipes and filters that are part of your HVAC system. These are essential to proper flow of air and the release of condensation. Additionally, because part of your HVAC system probably sits outdoors, obstructions from landscaping could be an issue. If something is physically blocking your vents or fans, the heat pump compressor is going to get overloaded trying to do its job without supporting players.

Click here to learn more about heat pump repair.

Get Help With Your Heat Pump Compressor

At Dynamic Air Services, we understand that even small issues become big when they’re not treated by experts. Whether you had an inexpertly installed unit that isn’t sufficient for your space or are dealing with a real heat pump compressor breakdown, we can help. We work with clients all through Southern California. Homeowners in Lake Forest, CA count on us to assess, diagnose and fix their HVAC issues all year long. In the area and need a hand? We’d love to be on call and on deck to help you out. Tap here to schedule service or call (949) 979-4748

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