Heat pumps are incredible devices—they offer both cooling and heating for your home, all in one! They’re more energy efficient than most furnaces, and they’re perfect for the kind of weather we get here in Hays County.
These devices are gaining popularity, but a lot of people aren’t quite used to how they work. There are times when your heat pump will run constantly; other times, however, your heat pump should shut off.
Let’s explore both scenarios. From there, we’ll give you advice on troubleshooting your heat pump if it’s running too often.
How heat pumps work in the winter
In the winter, heat pumps work exactly how air conditioners work—but reversed. Basically, this means they draw heat from the air outside, then use that heat to warm your house.
You might be surprised to learn that there’s enough heat in the outside air to warm your house—but as long as the refrigerant circulating through your heat pump is colder than the outside air, it will absorb heat and heat your home.
All of this is incredibly energy efficient, but the process doesn’t generate as much heat as quickly as a gas furnace does. This means that, in cold weather, your heat pump will almost always be working to heat your home.
Generally, you should expect your heat pump to be working non-stop when the weather hits around 40ºF or lower.
Here in Hays County, that means your heat pump shouldn’t be running non-stop for most of the year. You may, however, see a few especially cold days or evenings when your unit is constantly working.
Now that you understand why and when your heat pump should be running constantly, let’s take a look at what could be causing it to run non-stop, even when it’s not very cold out.
Problems that can cause your heat pump to run constantly
Thermostat isn’t properly set
Heat pumps can only generate so much heat. When your thermostat is set too high, it may be impossible for your heat pump to heat your home to the temperature you’ve set. Try adjusting your thermostat down.
There are a number of other thermostat problems that can cause your heat pump to run non-stop. Your thermostat may be malfunctioning, or it may be in a location that tends to stay colder than the rest of your home. These things can all cause your heat pump to misread the temperature in your house, and to run non-stop.
Air filter needs to be cleaned
A clogged air filter can lead to reduced airflow. That means it’s harder for the heat pump to get warm air into your home, which can lead to it running continuously in order to achieve your desired temperature. Clogged air filters lead to a lot of wear and tear on your unit, so be sure to replace your air filters regularly!
Fan set to “On”
You may see a switch on your heat pump that toggles from “Auto” to “On”. This tells your unit’s fan when to blow—whether it should turn on and off automatically or always be on. As you can imagine, setting it to “On” will make your heat pump’s fan run constantly—and that can make it seem like your heat pump is always on.
All you have to do is toggle the switch back to “Auto”. This switch should almost never be flipped to “On” unless an HVAC technician has instructed you to do so.
Refrigerant sounds cold—and it is—but it’s used both to heat and cool your home. You can think of refrigerant as the blood running through your heat pump—when it leaks, it’s a big problem.
With less refrigerant running through your heat pump, there’s less fluid to warm (or cool) your home. That means your heat pump will have to work harder to reach the right temperature—and it may have to work non-stop.
Refrigerant leaks are also extraordinarily bad for the environment, so if you suspect you might have a leak, call us right away.
An undersized system
The heat pump you installed may simply not be big enough for your house. When this happens, your home may never be able to reach the desired temperature—even if your heat pump is running 24/7. Undersized systems are just one of the many reasons you should always work with a trusted HVAC company when getting a heat pump installed.
A broken condensate pump
When your heat pump is cooling your home, moisture will develop as a natural by-product of the cooling process. When your condensate pump isn’t working, this water can accumulate, which can impede the cooling process and lead to your heat pump running continuously.
Auto-reverse is on
One of the best things about heat pumps is their ability to both cool and heat your home. This reduces the number of heating and cooling units you need in your home—and it also leads to greater comfort.
High-end heat pumps can automatically reverse between heating and cooling to keep your home at the perfect temperature all day long. This, of course, leads to constant heating or cooling—which means your heat pump won’t turn off.
Your windows or doors are open
We’ve saved the most obvious for last. When your windows or doors are open, your heat pump will have to work much harder to heat or cool your home. The same goes for heat pumps with blocked registers. Basically, make sure your windows and doors are closed, and that your registers are unobstructed!