Heat pumps are fantastic devices when they work – but like any appliance, they can develop issues sometimes.
Occasionally, you might find that your heat pump is running when you don’t want it to.
It may even be running constantly, and yet you’re still not getting the heat that you expect!
If your heat pump is constantly running when you don’t want it to, there could be many reasons why. We’ll have a look at some of them in this guide!
Heat Pump Won’t Turn Off
If you’re having an issue with your heat pump constantly running, then obviously you’ll be worried about the waste and inefficiency!
There are a few common reasons why this might occur.
If there’s an unusual cold spell, for example, the heat pump might well have to work overtime to compensate for the inclement weather.
This isn’t a malfunction, in this case – the pump simply has to work harder and longer in order to keep your home at the correct temperature.
However, this can also be caused by a malfunction in the unit. If your thermostat isn’t working correctly, this can cause issues that mean your heat pump runs longer than you intend.
Or, if you’ve got a problem with the compressor, particularly the compressor contractor (which controls the power levels reaching your heat pump), then you could also find that your pump keeps running even when it shouldn’t.
These issues should be handled by a professional.
Heat Pump Doesn’t Put Out Enough Heat
A heat pump that has to keep running because it doesn’t provide enough heat for the home it’s installed to is another type of issue altogether.
Check to see if there are any blockages in the air path, for a start. If there’s something blocking the air path, the heating of your home just won’t work as well.
Likewise, check the filters on your air pump. Your pump will have one or multiple air filters.
When they do their jobs, they eventually get clogged up with all the things that they prevent from entering the system.
So, at some point, all air filters need to be inspected, cleaned, and possibly replaced.
It’s also possible that your pump having to run constantly to heat your home means your pump simply isn’t big enough to do the job.
Check the specs of your pump to make sure that it should provide sufficient heat for your home.
If so, and it’s still not doing the job, then it’ll either need to be professionally repaired, or replaced entirely.
Common Problems & Issues
Let’s have a look at some of the most common problems people may have that can cause your heat pump to run constantly!
Incorrect Heat Settings
Sometimes the most obvious solutions are the ones we overlook! Before checking anything else, always make sure that your settings are correct.
After all, if you tell your heat pump to run all the time, then that’s just what it’s going to do!
This can happen if your thermostat is set to a temperature that your heat pump can’t reach, for example.
This of course means that your pump will run constantly – after all, it’s trying to create more heat than it possibly can!
So, check to see that you’ve got everything set right before anything else. It might well be that the issue is a few button presses away from being solved.
Sometimes it might be as simple a fix as checking to see if your blower fan is set correctly! It’s possible that the blower fan on your system might run even when the heat pump doesn’t.
This can lead you to believe that your heat pump is running when it isn’t.
On some systems, this can be changed by setting the blower fan setting to “auto” on the thermostat, so that it cuts out when not needed by the heat pump.
However, it’s also possible that a malfunctioning controller or relay on your system might be a cause of the problem.
If turning the fan off at the thermostat doesn’t stop the fan, then the relay or controller might be at fault. These should be repaired or replaced professionally.
Doesn’t Get Up To Temperature In The Cold
If the weather is cold, or colder than normal, then your heat pump naturally has to work more in order to do the same job.
This is actually normal operation – if the weather is cold, it simply takes more work for the heat pump to heat the home.
If the temperature air outside is below 30 F, then there may not even be enough heat outside to act on the refrigerant in your heat pump.
This means that your heat pump might need to use the auxiliary heat source as well as running, in order to provide the heat that you’ve requested on the thermostat. If this setting is too high, then you might need to turn it down.
If there are problems with it, then your heat pump might well keep running when you don’t want it to. This can happen when the thermostat can’t send a signal to the heat pump to turn off.
A main reason that this can happen is if the batteries on the thermostat are low. Many thermostats communicate with their heat pumps wirelessly – and many people forget that these batteries need replacing once in a while.
If your thermostat is wired, however, then the issue might be down to a fault in the wiring that connects it to the heat pump.
The auto-reverse mode on your heat pump switches it to an air conditioning mode instead of the heating mode. This is used to cool your home in hotter weather.
With this setting on, it’s normal for your heat pump to run in warmer weather in order to circulate cool air around your home.
Check to see if the air being circulated is warm or not. If the air being pumped into your house is cool, then the heat pump is doing its job.
Emergency Heat Setting
If your emergency heat setting is activated, then you might have an issue with your heat pump.
The emergency heat setting uses an auxiliary heat source instead, disabling the heat pump. This usually requires a professional to look at the issue.
Clogged Air FIlter
The air filters on your system are some of the most vital components, as they prevent lots of nasty particulate matter from the air from building up inside your system.
However, over time, all of this stuff can accumulate, and clog the filters completely.
They should be inspected regularly to prevent this happening. The filters will need to be cleaned out and possibly replaced every so often.
This needs to be done in order to keep your heat pump working correctly.
Doors & Windows
Doors and windows are some of the most common ways that heat is lost from a home.
If you’ve got doors and windows open that are leaking heat out of your home, your heat pump will have to keep working in order to replace the heat that you’re letting out.
This doesn’t mean that you should seal your home airtight shut, of course! It’s a good idea to open a window to let fresh air into your home every so often.
However, if you’re trying to heat the home while also letting the cool air in from outside – well, there’s an obvious problem there!
Also, check for drafts at the bottom of doors. A small gap at the bottom of your door can leak a massive amount of heat over time. A cheap draft excluder will prevent this with minimal effort.
Sometimes heat pumps (see also ‘Best Heat Pump Water Heater‘) can develop leaks.
A leak in the refrigerant lines and connections can cause an issue where your heat pump runs for longer than intended.If your pump is leaking refrigerant, then it will have difficulty in reaching the set temperature (see also ‘ Thermostat Not Reaching Set Temperature’ ).
Not just that, but eventually all the refrigerant can leak out, and your heat pump simply won’t work anymore.
If you’ve got cold air coming through your system even when you’ve set it to hot, then it’s possible that this is the issie.
It can be difficult for a non-professional to diagnose, however – and far too dangerous for the average person to try to fix. This needs to be seen by a professional. It’s not something that someone untrained should even consider touching!
The compressor is a key part of the heat pump system., and if there’s an issue with it then your heat pump can have problems.
The compressor contactor can be a common cause of problems that make a heat pump run constantly.
If this part malfunctions, then your heat pump can end up running constantly without actually providing any air conditioning.
This is another issue that absolutely needs to be seen by a professional, unfortunately!
Condensate Pump Problems
One of the byproducts of a working heat pump system is water. Water condensates from the air that’s pumped through the system, and needs to be removed bny an important part called the condensate pump.
The job of this pump is to collect and remove this water so that it doesn’t linger unwanted in the system, and cause water damage issues.
However, if this part malfunctions, it can lead to your heat [pump running when you don’t want it to. Sometimes this is a really simple fix – it might well have just come unplugged!
If so, then just plug it back in and your system should hopefully be working as intended.
However, if it’s not this simple, then you need to get someone who’s qualified to have a look at the issue.
Defrost Cycle Malfunction
Some parts of the system are naturally susceptible to a build up of frost. This can happen on the external coil of your heat pump, for example – which can seriously hamper the ability of the heat pump to perform its job.
To remedy this, most heat pumps will have a defrost cycle, which heats up the ice to remove it, preventing it from causing issues with the heat pump.
If the defrost cycle malfunctions, then this ice can be left on the coil, which can stop your heat pump from working properly. If this happens, you need to get a pro to look at the issue.
Air Conditioning Mode Stuck
Your heat pump has an air conditioning mode, which enables it to switch between heating and cooling.
However, if it gets stuck in the wrong position, then you might well find that your heat pump is constantly running trying to reach a temperature that it can never get to.
It’ll run and run, as it has no way of knowing that there’s an issue.
This can be caused by the reversing valves getting stuck. Unfortunately, it’s another job that needs a professional to remedy.
Pump Too Small
One of the most important things when choosing a heat pump system for your home is making sure that the heat pump has sufficient capacity to heat your home the way you want it to.
There’s a physical limit to how much a heat pump can actually do – so if your pump is too small for your home, you’ll end up with inefficient and ineffective heating.
Not just that, but your pump will have to work extra hard, possibly even ending up running constantly.
This not only puts wear and tear on moving parts, but also means that you’re not getting the performance you want. You’ll have a colder home with a higher energy usage to show for it. To say the least, this is far from ideal!
So, double check the rated specifications on your heat pump, and compare them to your home. If your home is too big for the heat pump to do its job properly, then you’ll have to replace it with one that’s up for the task.
Again, this isn’t a small job – and it needs the eyes and hands of somebody with experience and training.
So, the best thing to do is make sure that you get it right the first time! If you end up replacing your pump, make sure to double check your needs with the pump specification, as you’ll end up wasting a lot of time and money if you don’t.
With so many reasons why you could have an issue with your heat pump, it can be difficult to even know where to start looking.
Unless it’s an easy fix, like changing some thermostat settings or plugging a loose cable in, you should always get a professional to do work on your heating system.
Hopefully this guide has helped you to learn about some of the common problems that can cause your heat pump to constantly run!