3 Common Heat Pump Problems and How To Solve Them

If you have a heat pump system that provides both heating and cooling, it can be hard to maintain your system. When your heat pump system goes wrong, it is important to understand what to do to ensure you are warm this winter. Heat pump systems operate differently than traditional HVAC systems. So how can you be sure your heat pump has problems? What are the solutions when your heat pump system goes wrong?

We are going to break down 3 of the most common heat pump system problems, and tell you just how to fix them.

Problem #1: Freezing

During the cold winter months, you rely on your heat pump system more than any other time throughout the year. That is why it is important to watch out for freezing or icing conditions. More likely than not, your heat pump system will frost or even lightly ice during the winter. Don’t panic! Heat pump icing is typically pretty normal. In fact, most heat pump systems have a defrost mode to combat this exact problem.

However, if you find your heat pump is covered in a heavy coat of ice, if the coils are encased in ice, or if the entire unit is covered in a thick layer of snow and ice, you may have a serious problem. Too much ice buildup means that the transfer of heat between the refrigerant and outside is disrupted, impeding the entire heating operation. If you don’t take care of these problems quickly, they can cause permanent damage to your heat pump system. Possible ice-related problems include:

  • Defrosting Problems                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Normally, your heat pump system periodically and automatically switches to air conditioning mode for a few minutes, heating up the outdoor coils just enough to melt any frost or ice that has accumulated. If the unit does not defrost correctly, ice can build up quickly. Defrosting issues are caused by broken relays, controls, or sensors, and can even be caused by the reverse valve switch that changes the unit from heat to air conditioning.
  • Fan Problems                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Another possible cause of frost or ice issues may be your unit’s outdoor fan. If the fan is failing, damaged, or completely dead, it will impede the release of heat from the unit and cause ice to build up.
  • Low Refrigerant                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      If your heat pump system is leaking refrigerant, the charge will eventually become so low that the system will not produce enough heat to melt ice and frost. If your system is leaking refrigerant you will notice that you have trouble getting the unit to reach the set temperature.
  • Blocked Unit                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             If large amounts of snow or ice have accumulated onto the outdoor unit, it will prevent airflow, which causes more and more ice to build.
  • Leaky Water                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Beware leaky gutters! If your gutters are constantly dripping water onto your heat system’s unit, a layer of ice could gradually form and cause serious damage.


If you notice your heat pump has these freezing problems, it is important to understand what to do next to ensure you and your family are warm and cozy throughout the winter. One thing you should NEVER do to defrost your heat pump system is to use a pointy object to chip away the ice. Using an object to chip ice will cause serious damage to your unit’s fan coils. Fan coils are generally very delicate so it is best to use warm water to melt the ice on your system. After removing any debris or snow that may be blocking or freezing the unit, check your gutters for possible leaks. The most important thing to do after you defrost your heat pump system is to call a trusted and reliable HVAC professional to inspect your unit and ensure there are no further problems.

Problem #2: Too Much Work

During the cold weather, you heat pump runs constantly in order to keep you and your family warm. While heat pumps are designed to work constantly in cold weather, you could have problems with your system if your heat pump is constantly running even though it is warmer than 40°. If you are constantly running your heat pump system even though it is not freezing outside, you could notice problems such as leaky refrigerant, a frozen unit, or problems with your system’s compressor.


If your heat pump is not heating properly, there may be many reasons. However, if your system is running constantly and you are finding more and more problems with the unit, there are steps you can take to ensure your system runs properly. Your unit may be struggling because it is undersized or not equipped to properly heat the space. There could also be an issue with your home. If your home is not properly insulated, heat will escape and cause your heat pump to try and compensate. There could also be issues if your system has not been properly maintained. If you notice any of these issues, contact a professional and trustworthy HVAC technician.

Problem #3: Blowing Cold in Heat Mode

Imagine this: it is a freezing winter night and you are trying to stay warm when all of a sudden, your heat pump starts blowing COLD air! What a nightmare! The last thing that you need when trying to relax in your home on a cold winter night is to have your heat system blowing the wrong air. It may be caused by a valve problem, a refrigerant charge issue, or a compressor problem. It is also possible that your system is due for maintenance. Don’t worry, if this nightmare becomes a reality, there are steps that you can take to remedy the situation and get your heat pump back to heating.


The first thing to do when you notice your heat pump system is blowing cold air when it should be blowing warm air is to check that the system was not accidentally changed into air conditioning mode. Next, it is important to check and see that your
system is not iced or frozen. If these are not the cause of your unfortunate wrong air blowing problems, it may be time to invest in a new HVAC system. Contact an experienced HVAC professional to inspect and maintain your system before it is too late.


It’s no secret that routine maintenance is a crucial part of keeping your heat pump system in good shape. In fact, an efficient heat pump system requires maintenance inspections at least twice a year.

The good news is, whether you need duct cleaning or heat pump operation repairs, A Plus Air Conditioning and Refrigeration has the heating and air conditioning services you need to keep your HVAC system up and running. For more information about gas furnace safety or HVAC service repairs, contact A Plus Air Conditioning and Refrigeration today.