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Polar Bear Air Conditioning & Heating Inc. Blog

The One Little Known Heat Pump Problem That Costs You Big

Heat pumps are efficient, powerful, and there’s a reason you switched from your old AC and heater to a hybrid solution like this. No HVAC system is safe from encountering odd issues that can inhibit operation or cause a major breakdown, and heat pumps are no exception to the rule. Through our heat pump service in McLean, VA, we’ve seen quite a few system issues, and this one can result in a much bigger problem down the road if you don’t handle it now.

The Big Problem: Refrigerant Leaks

Refrigerant is the chemical that’s in your heat pump that allows it to cool air in the first place. Many times, homeowners think of it as fuel because they read the phrase “top off your refrigerant” once or twice around the internet at some point. This makes us think that it gets spent and we have to replenish it.

In reality, your refrigerant is in a closed loop system where it continuously expands and condenses, but it doesn’t evaporate or burn like gas–it just keeps running through the loop. If you’re low, that’s because there’s a leak somewhere that needs to be addressed.

What Problems Refrigerant Leaks Cause

Let’s break down what a refrigerant leak actually does to your system so you can understand how devastating the impacts of a leak can be.

  • Increased Rate of Wear and Tear: Your heat pump has an invisible limited clock hanging over its head, just like your lawnmower, car engine, and even the toaster on your kitchen counter. Wear and tear is described as usage plus time, and the result is slow degradation. It’s normal, it’s okay, but low refrigerant levels can speed up this process and cause long-term levels of damage in a short amount of time.
  • Evaporator Coil Freezing: Refrigerant is supposed to make things cold, but the irony is that if the levels are low in your heat pump, it actually results in your evaporator coil freezing. When it freezes, ice forms on the outside of it and gets in the way of mechanical operation, like a literal example of a wrench being thrown into the gears. It causes system strain and unnecessary damage.
  • Inconsistent Temperatures: Heat pumps should run for a short amount of time, achieve the room temperature goal set by your thermostat, then shut down until the next “ON” signal later on. But if refrigerant levels are low, it can run into short cycling. This is when the cooling cycle is shorter than necessary to reach the target mark. Your heat pump turns on, shuts down preemptively, but still has that “ON” signal to worry about. So it keeps trying, causing damage and a ton of wasted energy.

Don’t Delay Repairs

Refrigerant leaks aren’t going to shut down your entire heat pump’s operability in a day or two, but once you’re aware that it’s there, the longer you wait the more damage you can do to your system. It’s important to deal with these leaks as they happen, and that’s what we’re here to help you with.

Contact us today to schedule your heat pump service as soon as possible.

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