Some Heat Pump Behavior You Might See in Winter

If this is the first winter that you’ve had a heat pump, either because you had one installed during the earlier parts of the year, or you’ve moved into a house that has a heat pump in place, then you might be surprised at how it operates in winter. In fact, you might think that the heat pump is malfunctioning and needs to have professional repairs.

However, some of this behavior is perfectly normal for a heat pump. It’s just that you aren’t used to it and the signs can seem alarming. There are two in particular that we’d like to draw your attention to…

The outdoor unit is running when it’s cold

This is a misunderstanding based on the way people know that air conditioners run. A heat pump is similar to an air conditioner, and during the summer the way it runs is indistinguishable from one. And since people do not expect the outdoor unit of an AC to run in cold weather, it seems strange when the heat pump does this. But this is the natural way the heat pump works: the outdoor unit is drawing heat into the refrigerant coils that will be taken into the home. (Yes, there’s heat available outside even when it’s cold. Heat pumps are designed to draw out available thermal energy.)

There’s smoke rising from the outdoor unit

It’s probably not smoke at all, but steam vapor. What’s occurring is the defrost cycle on the heat pump. As the temperature drops, the moisture that condenses along the outdoor coil can freeze—and that will restrict the heat pump from drawing in heat. To prevent this, the heat pump occasionally goes into a defrost cycle that releases heat through the coil and melts away the ice—which turns into the vapor that you’re seeing.

If you still think there’s something wrong with your heat pump, or you notice more serious signs (the heat pump won’t switch to heating mode, comfort levels drop, etc.) all you need to do is give our heating repair professionals a call.

Justice Air Conditioning & Heating is your heating and air conditioning expert in Corpus Christi, TX.

Comments are closed.