Why Is My Heat Pump Blowing Cold Air?

by Team eLocal
hand in front of air vent

On wintry days, it feels good to step into a warm house. You can let your feet and fingers thaw after a long day of work.

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But this plan can go awry if your heat pump is blowing out cold air. It’s important to know why this happens, how to fix it and when you should call in a professional.

Why Is My Heat Pump Blowing Cold Air?

Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer to this question. There are many reasons why a heat pump may be blowing out cold air, and you may need to do some investigating to discover the issue. The good news is that the most common reasons for a heat pump to blow out cold air are easily resolved. However, there are more complex problems that may require some effort to fix or may need professional intervention.

Nonmechanical Issues

If you notice that your heat pump is blowing out cold air, these are the first things you should check. These are all nonmechanical issues that should resolve themselves or are easy to fix.

Your Heat Pump Is Working as Expected

People used to gas or oil furnaces are often surprised by the cool air from a heat pump. The air from a furnace is around 130 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, which is noticeably hot. By contrast, the air from a heat pump is 85 to 90 degrees.

The average temperature of the human body is around 98 degrees, so air from a heat pump will feel cool against your skin. Despite this, the air is still hot when compared to the room’s temperature and the conditions outside. The pump is working as expected, although it may take a little while to warm your house.

You can use an infrared thermometer to check the temperature of the air to ensure it’s sitting at 85 to 90 degrees. Alternatively, just keep an eye on your thermostat. The temperature should rise gradually until it reaches the right setting, at which time, the heat pump will cut off.

The Settings Are Wrong

If the air is cold, your first step is to check your settings. Make sure the thermostat is set to heat, and the fan is set to auto. If the fan is set to on, it will continue running even when the pump isn’t producing heat. This makes it feel like there’s cold air going into your house. If the fan setting is set to auto, it will turn off when the heat is off, resolving this problem.

Defrost Mode

Most heat pumps have a defrost mode. This is an automatic cycle that pumps heat to the outdoor unit. Melting ice off the unit in this way is much easier and safer than other methods. In defrost mode, all heat goes to the outside unit, and you won’t get any heat indoors until the cycle is complete.

To check if it’s on defrost mode, look at your outside unit. If there's ice or frost on it, it’s likely that this is the issue. However, if it doesn’t return to heating mode, you may have a different problem.

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Problems That Need to Be Addressed

If the issue isn’t with defrost mode or the settings, it’s likely that you'll have to take action to fix the problem. Reasons why your heat pump would blow out cold air during the winter can include:

  • Refrigerant leaks
  • Problems with the reversing valve
  • Faulty components
  • A dirty or clogged filter
  • Problems with the compressor
  • An iced-up outdoor unit due to malfunction

How Can I Fix It?

Your HVAC system should have instructions for troubleshooting. You can follow these instructions to determine whether you can fix the problem. As all systems are different, the steps to resolving issues are also different. However, it’s common for manufacturers to recommend checking the settings and changing the filter.

Do I Need to Call an HVAC Tech?

If troubleshooting doesn’t work, it’s time to call an HVAC technician. A professional can diagnose the issue and give you a timeline for fixing it. This will obviously depend on the issue. For example, if there’s a refrigerant leak, the technician will need to both fix the leak and recharge the system. If there’s an issue with the reversing or compressor valves, they may need to be replaced.

To help ensure your HVAC system doesn’t experience these problems, you need to have your system serviced regularly. A well-maintained heat pump is up to 25% more efficient than a neglected pump. This will save you money in the day-to-day running of the system, as well as in major repairs. An HVAC tech will inspect the entire system and fix any problems. Most manufacturers state that routine maintenance should be carried out annually.

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