Why Won’t My Heat Pump Switch to Cooling Mode?

tools-on-ac-unitAs the weather starts to warm up here in the Willamette Valley, heat pumps will switch over from their heating modes to their cooling modes. One of the main reasons people here like using heat pumps so much is because of this dual function: it only takes a simple adjustment on the thermostat and, voila, a heat pump changes from an effective home heater to a powerful air conditioner.

But a heat pump can’t be guaranteed to work accurately every time, especially if the system is getting up in years or it hasn’t received its twice-annual maintenance. When you go to switch your heat pump over to its cooing mode this spring, you may find that warm or room temperature air is still coming from the vents. What’s wrong? And should you call repair professionals to fix it?

First, let’s take care of some simple possibilities

Don’t panic yet that your heat pump is broken. Sometimes the issue is basic. First, check to see that the thermostat is set correctly. You might have made an error in the settings, or a pre-programmed setting is interfering. Next, check that there is a fresh filter in the HVAC system. A clogged filter left over from the winter will choke off airflow and may make it seem as if the house isn’t getting cool enough. Make sure to continue to change the filter for a fresh one every 1 to 3 months.

Potential heat pump malfunctions that need repair

If the heat pump is actually suffering from a malfunction, there are a number of causes for an inability to switch to cooling mode.

The most likely is trouble with a broken reversing valve. This is a key component in a heat pump, since it’s what allows the heat pump to work as both a heating and cooling system. As refrigerant leaves the compressor it enters this valve, which controls whether the hot, high-pressure chemical blend moves first to the outdoor coil or the indoor coil. If the valve sends the refrigerant indoors, it’s in heating mode. Otherwise, it’s in cooling mode. If the valve becomes stuck, the heat pump will also become stuck… stuck in one mode, that is. An HVAC professional can repair the reversing valve, although in most cases it’s better to have the whole valve replaced with a new one.

Another possibility is that the heat pump’s mechanical parts are fine, but the reversing valve isn’t receiving the signal from the thermostat. A loss of a connection means that no matter what the thermostat reads, the electrical signal that causes the valve to shift positions won’t activate. Technicians will be able to trace down the connection trouble and have it remedied.

Call our heat pump professionals for assistance

When you think you need heat pump repairs in Corvallis, OR, or elsewhere in the Willamette Valley, you can rely on our technicians. Our staff receives ongoing training to work with every major type of heating and cooling system, and they’ll be able to fix what’s wrong with your heat pump—or advise you on your options for a heat pump replacement system.

Midway Mechanical Inc. has served the Willamette Valley for over 40 years. Give us a call today and experience our company’s exceptional customer service!

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