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Sierra Pacific Home & Comfort, Inc. Blog

“Why Is My Heat Pump Stuck in Cooling Mode?”


It may not get as bone-chillingly cold here as it does in other parts of the country, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t need our heaters to work effectively and efficiently when it does get cold. Without a reliable heater, it can get pretty dang uncomfortable. So, if you have a heat pump and all it’s doing is blowing out cold air, you will probably be pretty concerned!

The first thing to check if this occurs is the thermostat. Is it actually set in heating mode? This may seem obvious, but there is always at least a small chance that a family member switched it back over because they preferred a different temperature than you did. Assuming that you’ve checked this though, and the heat pump is still blowing cold air even though the thermostat indicates you switched it to heating mode, then it probably means your heat pump is stuck. But how does this occur? Read on!

The Reversing Valve May Be Broken

The most likely cause for a stuck heat pump is a broken reversing valve. This component sits on the refrigerant line, and is tasked with actually changing the direction in which the refrigerant flows through the lines within your heat pump.

Essentially, the reversing valve is what makes the heat pump different from a traditional central air conditioning system. If it fails, you’ll be without a heater or air conditioner. Since we live somewhere that we can easily have surprise heat waves just as we could have record lows, this is clearly a problem.

If you aren’t getting heat from your heat pump this fall, then it’s clear you have a problem, and it could very well be this component. The good news is, a broken reversing valve is relatively easy for our technicians to fix for you! We’ll swap out the old valve for a new one, and reversing valves are a common component—you can usually count on us to have it on hand for a quick fix. That said, there’s no reason to wait to call for repairs.

A Thermostat Issue

Another possible culprit of a heat pump that won’t heat is a thermostat problem. It might be something like a faulty wiring connection, which could cause your thermostat to lose the connection to the heat pump. If this is the case, there is no signal for the system to start heating.

This is, again, an “easy” fix for our technicians. But it’s definitely not something you should try to repair on your own. Thermostats may be small components relatively speaking, but the wiring that connects them can be dangerous in untrained hands. A lack of experience can lead to injury by electrocution or even potential fire hazards.

A Refrigerant Leak

A common misconception that many homeowners have about heat pumps and traditional air conditioners is that the refrigerant within them is supposed to run out—that it’s like a car running out of gas. On the contrary, your heat pump is supplied with enough refrigerant upon installation to last its entire lifespan. But, leaks can happen, particularly in aging heat pumps. When a leak does happen, this will lower the effectiveness of the heat pump, whether you want it to be in heating mode or not.

If you suspect this may be the issue affecting your system, call us right away.

For reliable heat pump services and more, contact “The Guys in the Big Red Trucks”—Sierra Pacific Home & Comfort, Inc.

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