heat pump not maintaining house temp


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Old 11-26-06, 02:40 AM
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Question heat pump not maintaining house temp

I have a dual heat pump/gas furnace system. My balance point is set to switch to my backup gas furnace system when the outside temp reaches 30degF. There's only been a couple of times so far this year when the temp reached that low though... mostly it's been in the low to mid 40's. My problem is that my heat pump doesn't seem to be heating my home up to the 66 to 68 degrees that my thermostat is programmed for it to reach. In fact, today even when the temp outside was 48deg, my indoor temp never once reached higher than 59deg, even though I can hear the heat pump running outside. What could be happening here? Do I need to get a service technician out to look at something? My heat pump is only a year and a half old. I never had this problem last winter. I'm freezing my a** off!

oh crap... just went and actually took a closer look at my heat pump and it is completely iced over and making a funny rattling noise. This can't be good. I have no idea how long it has been doing this but I think it may have been several days. What caused this? I replaced my air filter on November 12th so it shouldn't be due to a dirty filter. Have I caused additional damage to my heat pump by letting it run in this condition for several days?!

I just switched over to emergency heat so that my gas furnace will now heat the house instead of the heat pump, but I'm not too happy about this because gas is more expensive around here then electric, and this is one of the reasons I chose to get a heat pump added to my system in the first place!
 

Last edited by DIYaddict; 11-27-06 at 03:46 PM.
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Old 11-26-06, 05:54 AM
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MonicaP

First of all, cut your system off. Then switch your heat over to emergengy heat and cut your system back on. This should engage your gas furnace. With your outside heat pump condenser iced over, this sounds like a refrigerant leak especially with the mild temps you are stating. Yes, you will have to call your dealer for service ASAP. Post back and let us know what they find. If this is a leak, tech will have to locate and repair. I would be very ill over a leak from a system this age.Your system is a Trane, correct?

As far as damage, can't tell without a tech checking unit out. Probably not but compressor should be checked out since it is the heart of your heat pump.

My opinion.
 

Last edited by TigerDunes; 11-26-06 at 06:06 AM.
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Old 11-26-06, 09:34 PM
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Originally Posted by TigerDunes
MonicaP

First of all, cut your system off. Then switch your heat over to emergengy heat and cut your system back on. This should engage your gas furnace. With your outside heat pump condenser iced over, this sounds like a refrigerant leak especially with the mild temps you are stating. Yes, you will have to call your dealer for service ASAP. Post back and let us know what they find. If this is a leak, tech will have to locate and repair. I would be very ill over a leak from a system this age.Your system is a Trane, correct?

As far as damage, can't tell without a tech checking unit out. Probably not but compressor should be checked out since it is the heart of your heat pump.

My opinion.
What do you mean by cutting the system off first before switching over to emergency heat? I simply switched to the emergency heat option on my thermostat and it seems to be working without trying to switch back to the heat pump. I hope this is not a bad way to do it.

Yes I have a Trane.
 
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Old 11-26-06, 10:13 PM
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I simply switched to the emergency heat option on my thermostat and it seems to be working without trying to switch back to the heat pump. I hope this is not a bad way to do it.
Your ok that way. Even when the ice gets off dont go to heatpump till a tech checks it out
 
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Old 11-27-06, 02:27 PM
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no resolution

I just paid $140 for a heat pump service tech to come out and tell me that nothing's wrong with my 1.5 year old heat pump. Everything checked out okay and it's running fine. They have "no idea" why it iced over and stopped heating my house. I don't think he even believes me that it did that, but I know what I saw. There was ice all over on the outside of the unit and my house wouldn't heat past 58-59 deg Fah for several days, with outside temps between 40 and 48 deg Fah?!

The service tech tried to imply that it might be because I set my balance point to 35 deg Fah instead of their "recommended" 40 deg Fah. They've been telling me that from day one, but I know that there is nothing wrong with running a heat pump even at much lower temps.

I can't believe I just had to pay them $140 to tell me nothing.

Should I just carry on and hope this never happens again? Could this just be a random occurence caused by cold weather hitting right after a lot of wet weather and humidity?
 
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Old 11-27-06, 02:37 PM
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Out of the box here. I think that the temp got lower than you think and that you iced up . the defrost board didnt kick in like it should. If this happen again . Just turn the unit to cool for a while and should melt the ice off or if you can take a hose to it. Then tell the next tech that the defrost board is not working right. He did check the freon in it didnt he???????
That $140 sounds high for what he did to just look at it.

ED
 
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Old 11-27-06, 02:44 PM
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They charge a $129 flat fee to just come out there and diagnose any problem, no matter what it is. So that came to about $139 after tax. I feel like they should have done it for free since I didn't even have a one-year follow-up from them after the installation. They didn't care.

It is very possible that the temp did get lower a time or two, but even if it got down lower than 30 Deg Fah, I had no problems like this happening all of last winter.

I did ask the technician if there could be any refrigerant leakage, and he said that he checked the "pressure" and it was good.
 
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Old 11-27-06, 02:54 PM
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It is very possible that the temp did get lower a time or two, but even if it got down lower than 30 Deg Fah, I had no problems like this happening all of last winter.

I did ask the technician if there could be any refrigerant leakage, and he said that he checked the "pressure" and it was good.

Then Id say its was up in the defrost board. Our flat fee here is $84
 
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Old 11-28-06, 05:26 AM
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Monica,

Sorry for your trouble. I would be a little ill also at a service call on a relatively new system and then be told that "everything checks out OK". Having said this, I suggest you find out from installing dealer how the defrost mode is setup on your dual fuel system. I have never seen or heard my dual fuel system go into defrost mode and have my swtchover from HP to gas at 30 deg fah. Heat pumps just don't ice over like you described especially if outside temp is in 40s as you stated unless there is a reason. Over the next several weeks ,I would watch operation closely especially when outside temp dips to mid 30s and below. I hope your problem was just an unexplained anomaly but I have to suspect something else.

IMO
 
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Old 12-07-06, 10:59 AM
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I think it happened again. Is there any way I can send a picture to show you guys what it looks like? The installer came out again and I showed him the pictures and he said it was normal. He also tried to tell me that the only reason its doing this is because I put my balance point at 30 degrees. They INSIST that it needs to be set at 40 degrees. (I have a feling that they are experienced with normal heat pumps with auxillary heat backups, not dual fuel systems).
 
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Old 12-07-06, 11:51 AM
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Is this normal on a heat pump with outside temp betw 30-40 degrees F?

http://i120.photobucket.com/albums/o175/mpep_photo/IMG_1229.jpg
http://i120.photobucket.com/albums/o175/mpep_photo/IMG_1227.jpg
http://i120.photobucket.com/albums/o175/mpep_photo/IMG_1230.jpg
http://i120.photobucket.com/albums/o175/mpep_photo/IMG_1233.jpg
 
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Old 12-07-06, 12:23 PM
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So I followed your suggestion Tiger, and asked the installer how the defrost mode is set up. He clearly didn't know, so he went outside and called someone, then came back inside to tell me. He said two demands must be met in order for the defrost mode to kick in.
1) the ambient/outdoor temp reaches 49 degrees or below and
2) the unit senses what it needs based on the temp of the pipes within the unit iteslf (not sure I understand this part).

He is not reading any error codes from the defrost board, but he finally said that there "could" be a problem with the defrost board that he just can't see and it is under warranty if I want to replace it. However, the labor is not under warranty and would cost me another $129 (after I already paid $140 for them to come out and tell me nothing's wrong). This unit is only a year and a half old! I feel really taken advantage of, not to mention low on funds right now. Do I have any right to ask them to do the replacement labor free? probalby not eh?

I guess I am going to give it a little more time to see if my unit stops heating the house again. Should I be concerned if it starts forming the frost on the unit again like in the pictures? He says it's normal, so I should just ignore that and only worry if it stops heating the house again. I'm afraid of damaging the unit further though.


Originally Posted by TigerDunes View Post
Monica,

Sorry for your trouble. I would be a little ill also at a service call on a relatively new system and then be told that "everything checks out OK". Having said this, I suggest you find out from installing dealer how the defrost mode is setup on your dual fuel system. I have never seen or heard my dual fuel system go into defrost mode and have my swtchover from HP to gas at 30 deg fah. Heat pumps just don't ice over like you described especially if outside temp is in 40s as you stated unless there is a reason. Over the next several weeks ,I would watch operation closely especially when outside temp dips to mid 30s and below. I hope your problem was just an unexplained anomaly but I have to suspect something else.

IMO
 
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Old 12-07-06, 01:05 PM
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Ok out of the box here.
2) the unit senses what it needs based on the temp of the pipes within the unit iteslf (not sure I understand this part).
Thats how the unit knows when to go into defrost. It should and the furnace turn on as the heat pump is a AC in defrost mode and you need the furnace to run also so you dont get cold air at the registers. Now how yours is wired in I dont know. But it could work that way.
But most of the time they set the turn over at 35 or 40 so the furnace will start to come on before the heat pump ever frost up.
Might go to http://warmair.net and compare fuel cost for where you are Could be you could go to electric heat in that heatpump instead of gas all units we put in here are with electric back up heat
 
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Old 12-08-06, 07:41 AM
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MonicaP

First of all, the situation you describe along with supporting pictures is not an anomaly, it is an unresolved and not properly diagnosed problem. It will happen again until it is repaired correctly.

It seems there are two issues.
1.What is causing your freezeup?
2.Why is the defrost function not working?

A couple of questions.
This is your 2nd heating season with this system -correct? If so, this situation never occurred last yr?
At what outside temp did this most recent freezeup occur?
Was your heat pump still operating and was it maintaining your inside thermostat setting?
How did your HP finally defrost? By outside temps becoming more mild?

My suggestion is to call the service manager. Even better would be to set up an apptment and visit him in person and of course take the pictures. I don't like the idea of changing parts just to be changing parts. And clearly the tech that came to your house is not the right person to help you. I wish I could help you further. If you don't get any resolution through your dealer, then I would contact the area Trane residential specialist at the Trane Distributor.

IMO
 
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Old 12-08-06, 09:31 AM
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Looking at the pictures, do you think that is normal in non-freezing weather? The unit only frosts up on two sides by the way.

This situation NEVER happened all last winter, and I had the balance point set at 30 degrees. I was very happy with how it heated the house. I told the technician that, but he just shrugged his shoulders.

The first time this happened was around Thanksgiving and I wasn't home for a couple days and when I returned it took me awhile to figure out why the house was so cold. The temp outside was probably up and down between 35 and 48 degrees, maybe it got lower during the night, not sure. But during the afternoon at one point it was 48 degrees and my house wouldn't heat past 59 degrees (the heat pump was running but it sounded like it was rattling instead of the normal hum, and I think it may have been blowing cold air into the house. The backup gas furnace wasn't kicking in because the balance point is set at 30 degrees).

To defrost it, all I had to do was push the emergency heat button on my thermostat so that it used the gas furnace instead of the heat pump, and then the heat pump defrosted on its own because it wasn't freezing outside.

The second time this happened, the temp outside was probably around 35 degrees, and I noticed that the unit was starting to frost up again, even though there was no frost on the ground or outside at all. I thought this was a sign that the unit was going to malfunction again, so I immediately switched the balance point over to 40 degrees instead of the usual 30 so that the gas furnace would run instead of the heat pump. We had a few really cold days after that where it stayed below 40, so the heat pump didn't run at all until this week when it started warming up again. So it's been running fine for a few days (but it took about 4-5 days to frost up again after the first occurence).

I'm worried about trying to talk to the service manager, because the technician that came to my house was on the phone with him and was being told what to say and do anyway. Plus, they all insist that it's my fault for keeping the switch-over temp at 30 degrees instead of 40 degrees. They don't beleive me that this should not cause this problem and he asked me "WHO" I was getting my information from.
 
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Old 12-08-06, 10:04 AM
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MonicaP

Nothing is wrong with a 30 deg fah temp where HP and gas furnace switch back and forth as long as HP can maintain your home's inside temp setting down to 30 degrees. Any suggestion otherwise is strictly baloney and total nonsense. I still believe you should discuss matter with installing dealer-perhaps the owner. You require a HP tech expert not a clod getting phone instructions from a service manager. You were charged for a service call that did not correctly identify issues much less solve them.

My opinion.
 
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Old 12-08-06, 04:53 PM
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Ice up between 30 and 40F?

Monica:
See notes on my thread http://forum.doityourself.com/showthread.php?t=286909
My hp and my neighbors hp were both still running this a.m. at below 20F outside. When I got up and raised the heat from 60F to 66F the electric strip heat had to have kicked in since my airflow at the registers jumped over 10 degrees. I honestly don't know how cold it would have to get outdoors for my hp to not run. But, I know that they can run below 20F and still work. My unit is 22 years old and his is about 3 years old.

Good Luck
John
 
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Old 12-09-06, 05:44 AM
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It's time for a different company to determine why your system is not going into defrost. In the long run it's cheaper to pay someone who knows what they are doing. Also, if your current company has difficulty diagnosing problems now, they will also be unable to repair your system in the future if other issues develop.
It's time to make the move.
 
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Old 12-10-06, 10:16 AM
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Based on your description, I'm going with the defrost board and/or defrost _sensor_.

The defrost sensor is a temp sensor attached to the piping (with a clip or simular device) that reads the tempurature of the piping. Depending on your system, it needs that sensor to read below a certain temp AND the defrost board to log a certain amount of 'run time' before it will switch to defrost. This time is usually settable by a small jumper on the defrost board.

The sensor is a ~$20 part, is easy to replace and readily available.

Unless I missed it, post up the make and model of your heat pump.
 
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Old 12-10-06, 11:04 AM
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My heat pump is a Trane 14-Seer 2 ton split system R-410A Heat Pump (XL14i). It's a year and a half old.
 
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Old 12-10-06, 12:59 PM
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asked the installer how the defrost mode is set up. He clearly didn't know, so he went outside and called someone, then came back inside to tell me.

Did he put gauges on the unit??????? If he had to call back to the company about the unit. Im betting he dont know a Da* thing about the new R 410a and how much higher the psi has to be. Ill also bet he didnt have any R410a on the truck. As the cost for a jug is very very high. I dont see how he could put the gauges on the unit if he didnt have R410a with him to just clean or blow the hoses out form the last unit that had R22 in it
Id call Trane And tell them what is going on

ED
 
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Old 12-14-06, 11:11 AM
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its clear to me the tech doesnt know what the heck he's talking about.

My heatpump works down below 30 and its an old system. The defrost board should sense the time the temps are at freezing on the coil and the time its been there. On my system, you can set the defrost to 30 60 or 90 minutes and I have mine set at 90. I never freeze up.

To look at those pictures and thats normal is LUDICROUS!! I'd cancel my check for the service, print out this post and hand it to the manager. Then I'd get someone else to look at it.

Better yet, take the pictures to another place and ask them if its normal. then go to talk to the first place. then you can tell them "SO AND SO down the street said so".
 
 

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