Polar Bear Air Conditioning & Heating Inc Blog : Archive for the ‘Heat Pumps’ Category

Reasons Your Washington DC Heat Pump Can’t Maintain the Right Temperature

Monday, March 26th, 2012

When you set your thermostat for a certain temperature, you expect that your Washington DC heat pump will either heat or cool it to that temperature, right? When you want 72 degrees, you don’t expect to have the temperature stay stuck at 70 degrees while your heat pump struggles futilely.

Sometimes heat pumps have trouble maintaining the right temperature, especially in heating mode. It’s not uncommon, and it has a number of potential causes. Run through this checklist to see if it is something you can fix yourself:

  • The outdoor unit is iced up. Running a defrost cycle can usually fix this.
  • The outdoor unit is not running at all. Sometimes this is simple enough to fix on your own. Read the manufacturer’s instructions to troubleshoot the problem.
  • Too much cold air is getting in the house for the heat pump to keep up. Make sure your doors and windows are closed to keep that valuable heat inside.
  • Your vents are closed. It may seem obvious, but problems like this can sometimes be attributed to user error. Make sure your vents are open to allow heat in.

This is by no means an all-inclusive list, and it covers just those causes that you could potentially fix yourself. There are many other possible culprits out there that could be more sinister and require Washington DC heating and air conditioning professional to be properly repaired.

Some of these include:

  • The compressor is not running.
  • A compressor valve or reversing valve is faulty.
  • The thermostat is malfunctioning or needs to be recalibrated.
  • The refrigerant level is low or there is a problem with the flow of the refrigerant.
  • The heat pump needs routine maintenance.

If your heat pump is not working properly for several days, especially after you have tried some of the DIY solutions above, call Polar Bear Air Conditioning right away. Your heat pump may need repairs before a bigger problem develops.

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Washington DC Heat Pump Guide: Understanding the Defrost Cycle

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

If your Washington DC home has a heat pump, you’ll want to understand the defrost cycle to help you maintain your heat pump and troubleshoot repairs. While this is a basic guide, you should call a qualified HVAC technician if you experience major issues with your heat pump.

During the winter when a heat pump is heating your home, the cooler outdoor air that’s pumped in and heated may have excess moisture. The outdoor coil evaporates this moisture, but under certain weather conditions, frost can accumulate on the coil and decrease the overall efficiency of the heat pump.  To help reduce the potential for damage from the frost, heat pumps are manufactured with a defrost cycle to melt the frost from the outdoor coil. The defrost cycle occurs often during heavy frost conditions, so check weather reports if your defrost cycle seems to be running often.

At the beginning of the defrost cycle, the heat pump switches to the cooling mode and temporarily warms up the outdoor coil until it reaches somewhere around 60° F to melt the frost from the coil. To increase the temperature of the coil, the outdoor fan is prevented from turning on until the outdoor coil reaches the desired temperature. Weather conditions and the timing device both affect the amount of time it takes for the heat pump to move through the entire defrost cycle.

In older homes, electric heating elements are sometimes installed to prevent cool air from being distributed throughout the home. This element will turn on with the defrost cycle and shut down the blower fan inside the house. If you have an older heat pump, you may want to consider upgrading to a more efficient model.

Call Polar Bear any time if you have questions about the defrost cycle for the heat pump in your Washington DC home.

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