Serving Greenwood, Fishers, Carmel, Indianapolis & Surrounding Areas

November 10, 2023

Why Is My Heat Pump Blowing Cold Air?

Your heat pump is great for keeping your Indiana home comfortable year-round without requiring an air conditioner and a furnace. Keep reading if you’re wondering, “Why is my heat pump blowing cold air?”

In this article, the best heating and cooling company in Greenwood discusses heat pump systems and what causes them to blow cold air.

How Heat Pumps Work

Heat pumps work as a combined air conditioning and heating system within one device. Unlike a furnace, they don’t create heat but transfer it from outdoors into your home. Even in winter, they can absorb heat from the air using refrigerant, though they struggle to do so below 40 degrees and won’t work when it drops below five degrees.

Like an air conditioner, the heat pump works through a refrigerant cycle but reverses the process. The outdoor coils act as evaporators for the cool air, while the refrigerant carries the hot air into rather than out of the home.

Whereas a furnace heats the air to about 120 degrees before releasing it, the air from a heat pump cycle only reaches about 85 degrees. If you think you’re feeling cold air from your heat pump, ensure it’s cool. If you’re used to a furnace, the air might feel relatively cooler.

Most Common Reasons Your Heat Pump Blows Cold Air

If you’re searching, “Why is my heat pump blowing cold air?” it’s likely one of the following common reasons.

1. Incorrect Thermostat Settings

Sometimes, heat pump problems result from an incorrect thermostat setting. Verify you set your thermostat to “heat” mode and that the fan is on “auto.” If you set your fan to “on” mode, it blows air regardless of whether it’s heating, so setting it to the correct function means it blows air only when it’s warm.

2. Clogged Filter

Your air filter purifies the air, keeping it free of dust and organic compounds that can hurt your health and aggravate your allergies. As it filters dust, the debris accumulates on the filter, restricting the airflow. If it becomes excessively dirty, it can make your heat pump work even harder, so it might not transport enough heated air to keep up.

3. Dirty Outdoor Unit

The outdoor portion of your heat pump is vulnerable to harsh environmental factors like falling leaves, dust, bacteria, and even rodents and insects. Much like the air filter, when the device becomes too dirty, it has to work harder and can’t keep up with your needs. It still tries to transport the air into your home, so the correct thermostat settings cause it to keep blowing. Still, the refrigerant won’t carry enough air to make a noticeable difference in the temperature.

4. Reversing Valve Problems

The reversing valve switches the flow of refrigerant when the heat pump goes from cooling to heating. Sometimes, the valve malfunctions, which causes your heat pump to stay in a cooling mood, even during the winter. If the refrigerant doesn’t reverse, it can’t pump the hot air into your home. While you may wish to troubleshoot some of the other causes, only a certified HVAC technician can fix this issue.

5. Refrigerant Leaks

Your heat pump contains refrigerant within an enclosed system that shouldn’t leak. However, with excessive usage, improper maintenance, or old age, the refrigerant can start to leak, which prevents it from adequately transporting the warm air. 

Never attempt to find or repair a refrigerant leak yourself. It’s a toxic substance that’s hazardous to the environment. Only a certified HVAC technician can safely and properly handle, refill, and dispose of the substance.

6. Defrost Mode

Ice can build up on your heat pump, especially during winter when it releases cold air outside. To prevent further damage, your heat pump switches into defrost mode, which ejects the hot air outside and melts the ice. Because the heat pump no longer releases the cold air outside, it blows into your home instead.

Once the ice melts, you can return the device to its heat setting. A dirty outdoor unit accumulates ice more frequently than a clean one.

How To Maintain Your Heat Pump

If you’re asking, “Why is my heat pump blowing cold air?” you can help maintain it with several crucial habits.

Annual Maintenance

The most important thing you can do for your heat pump is schedule annual maintenance. Experts suggest scheduling it for either the spring or the fall, right before you use it the most. The benefits of regular heat pump maintenance include the following:

  • Less frequent repairs: With regular inspections, a qualified HVAC technician can detect heat pump problems before they become an issue. You’ll experience less frequent repairs, and when you need a repair, it likely won’t be as severe or expensive as those arising from lack of maintenance.
  • Longer life expectancy: Your heat pump should last between 10 and 25 years, depending on your climate, how frequently you use it, and several other factors. With proper maintenance, you can reduce the effect wear and tear has on the device and help it last as long as possible. This can save you money on early replacement and installation fees.
  • Lower utility bills: Without maintenance, your heat pump will age faster, develop minor problems, or stay dirty, which forces it to work harder to produce the same results. The harder your heat pump works, the more energy it uses, and the higher your utility bills rise. You can consider annual maintenance a good investment because it saves you more money in the long run with lower energy bills.
  • Better air quality: Several common heat pump problems, such as a dirty air filter, can reduce the quality of your indoor air. Not only can the air feel the wrong temperature, but it can fill with dust and other organic compounds that increase your allergies, respiratory issues, or other health conditions. Regular maintenance helps prevent poor air quality, improving your quality of life while saving you money on medical bills or prescription medications.

If you want extra assurance the device won’t break when you need it most, schedule a second yearly maintenance appointment in the spring or fall.

Moderate Usage

One of the best ways to maintain your heat pump is by using an energy-efficient HVAC system. This includes highly efficient devices and energy-efficient practices. If you can moderate how often you use your heat pump, it can significantly extend its life expectancy and reduce how much wear and tear it experiences each season.

Use the following best practices to help use your heat pumps less frequently:

  • Set your thermostat to 68 degrees in the winter and 78 degrees in the summer.
  • Improve your home’s insulation. This helps your home retain indoor temperatures longer, and your heat pump can run less frequently.
  • In the summer, use fans, open windows, and wear thin clothing to help you stay cool. In the winter, wear multiple layers of clothing and use blankets to endure the lower thermostat settings.
  • Don’t run your heat pump when you’re not at home to enjoy the regulated air.
  • Install a programmable thermostat to give you more control over your temperature settings and when you run your heat pump.
  • Instead of relying on your home’s HVAC system to stay comfortable, head to a public place and give your heat pump a break!

Prompt Repairs

One of the worst things you can do for your heat pump is delay minor repairs. We know it’s tempting to save money if your heat pump still works relatively well, but you’re putting your budget at risk. If left unattended, minor repairs usually turn into severe repairs or might even require replacing your entire heat pump.

When you spend a little money up front to fix minor problems, you save much more in the long run.

Regular Air Filter Changes

Your heat pump’s air filter requires regular changing or cleaning to prevent it from harming your device and decreasing indoor air quality. While most types of filters require you to change them completely, with higher-quality models, you can clean them and return them to your heat pump.

Most air filters require replacement every 30 days, depending on the quality of the filter and how frequently you use your heat pump. Some air filters can last up to 90 days. If you have pets, smoke indoors, or live in an area with heavy pollution, you should check your air filter more frequently than once a month.

Contact Your HVAC Specialist for Help

If you’re wondering, “Why is my heat pump blowing cold air?” look to Complete Comfort Heating, Air & Plumbing for help. Whether you use a heat pump or furnace, we provide exceptional knowledge and service for all HVAC devices. Check out our website to learn more about our efforts to keep you comfortable and safe no matter the season.

To schedule an appointment or ask further questions about anything not covered in this article, feel free to call us at (317) 678-7092.