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Strange Things Your Heat Pump May Do in Winter

Did you have a heat pump installed this spring, or during the summer? Or have you recently moved into a home that uses a heat pump for comfort, and you’re not used to the way it works? If a heat pump is new to you, there are some ways it functions during the winter that will come as a surprise. You might even think the heat pump is malfunctioning and needs to be repaired.

Fortunately, two of these behaviors are normal parts of the heat pump’s regular cycle, and you don’t need to worry about them or call for repairs:

  • The outdoor unit is sending out smoke: Actually, it’s not smoke, although it is easy to make this mistake. It’s actually water vapor. What’s happening is the heat pump is in its defrost cycle. A heat pump works much like an air conditioner, except it can reverse the direction that it moves heat so that it also draws heat from the outside to move inside. There is a risk that moisture condensation along the outdoor coil will freeze. To prevent this, the heat pump periodically goes into a defrost cycle where it briefly heats up the coil, causing the ice to melt off and create the vapor you’re seeing.
  • The outdoor unit is running regularly: This is a common mistake because people are used to split air conditioners. You don’t expect the outdoor unit of the air conditioner to run in the winter, although you expect the indoor blower fan to work. But a heat pump uses the outdoor unit the draw in thermal energy, so it has to run whenever the heating cycle starts up.

But there are actual malfunctions that can occur to a heat pump over the winter. It might start sending out only cool air. It might refuse to turn on at all. Or it may experience a drop in airflow. In most cases, you won’t be able to fix the problem on your own. Don’t try to fiddle around with your heat pump: call on our repair technicians!

Advanced Mechanical Services provides heat pump repair services to Edgewater, NJ.

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