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Why Is My Heat Pump Not Working?

Oct 06, 2020

A suburban house in a Northern Virginia neighborhood that is covered with snow in the wintertime.


Having a functional heat pump is critical to home comfort as the weather starts to grow colder. If you find that your heat pump is not working, there are a few troubleshooting actions you can take to find and repair the issues. 

How a Heat Pump Works

The most important thing to understand about heat pumps is that they don’t actually create heat. Rather, heat pumps work by transferring heat from one place to another. This heat is typically sourced from outdoor air or from underground. So remember that if your heat pump is not working, this isn’t due to its inability to create heat — it’s a malfunction in the process of transferring heat. 

Signs Your Heat Pump Isn’t Working Properly

If you notice any of the following signs, you may need to consider calling in a professional for heat pump repair services:

The Heat Pump is Noisy

It’s normal for large appliances to emit low humming or vibrations while they run, but sudden, loud, or unfamiliar noises are clear indicators that an issue is present. If your heat pump is making atypical noises, don’t ignore it. Putting off a simple repair can lead to more severe issues that cost more to repair later on. 


If you hear grinding, rattling, or any kind of screeching or squealing sounds, turn off your appliance and contact an HVAC professional for heat pump repair services. These types of noises could indicate loose parts, a snapped belt, or other serious damage within the machinery. 

Your Utility Bills Skyrocketed

As the weather gets colder and you need to rely on your HVAC system to balance the temperatures in your home, you will see some fluctuation in your utility bill. However, if you notice that your utility bills have shot up significantly, more so than they typically do in changing seasons, it could indicate an issue with your HVAC system. 


When was the last time you had your heat pump inspected or serviced? If it’s been over a year, you should have a professional technician come clean it and inspect your unit to identify any potential issues. It’s also a good idea to consider how old your heat pump is, since it’s possible your heat pump is coming to the end of its expected lifespan.

Heat Pump is Icing Up

Throughout the winter months, it’s normal for a thin layer or ice to occasionally build up on the surface of your heat pump. This will then activate the heat pump’s defrost cycle. However, a heat pump that ices over during the warmer months or develops a thick coating of ice is indicative of a more severe problem that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. In these cases, your unit may be shutting down to protect itself against some internal problem.

How to Reset Your Heat Pump

Sometimes your heat pump can stop working simply because it isn’t set up correctly. Before you call your HVAC technician, there are a few troubleshooting reset actions you can take:


For starters, always check the thermostat. A lot of heat pump issues are due to the fact that the thermostat is on the wrong setting or temperature. Turn your thermostat to the heat setting, set the temperature for a few degrees warmer than your current temperature reading, and see if the HVAC kicks on. If you’re turning on the heat for the first time this season, it may take a few minutes to power up. 

Circuit Breakers

Once you’ve determined that the thermostat is not the issue, check the power. The circuit breakers connected to your heat pump could have tripped, preventing your unit from getting power. Check your main electrical panel and any sub panels that provide electricity to your heat pump and reset them if they’ve tripped by flipping them from OFF to ON again.

Heat Pump Settings

Lastly, be sure your heat pump is connected to its electric source and the power switch is ON. The power switch should be on the wall near the unit or within the heat pump’s handler cabinet. Check that it’s on the ON setting. If you have had your heat pump serviced recently, your technician may simply have forgotten to turn your unit back on. A simple flip of the switch can resolve that issue. 

Don’t Handle Your Heat Pump Alone

If you’ve performed all these actions but find your heat pump is not working, then it’s time to call for backup. Trust the HVAC professionals from CroppMetcalfe to get your heat pump running properly and efficiently again. Call or schedule heat pump repair services online today!


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