6 Common Winter Heat Pump Issues You Should Know About

image of a homeowner feeling chilly due to poor heating pump performance in winter

Heat pumps are a modern heating alternative to traditional furnaces, using electricity instead of combustible fuel to produce heat. In winter, they function like an air conditioner in reverse, gathering heat from the outdoors and releasing it indoors. This makes them highly efficient and reliable, and many homeowners are switching to heat pumps for these reasons. However, a heat pump in winter can still encounter problems, just like other heating systems. If you’re having issues with your heat pump, it’s a good idea to consult a professional HVAC contractor for assistance and additional information.

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Common Heat Pump Issues Experienced in Winter

In some areas, winter weather is mild and doesn’t require the use of a heater. In others, heavy snow and extreme cold necessitate a strong heating system. Heat pumps are most effective in areas with mild to moderate climates and may struggle in extreme conditions. If you’re having problems with your heat pump, it’s a good idea to call a professional for an evaluation. Below are some common concerns to be aware of.

1. Poor Heat Pump Heating

image of a space heater

Furnaces are capable of generating a lot of heat, making them well-suited for harsh winter weather. Heat pumps, on the other hand, are not as intense and may not provide enough heat in extreme conditions. However, heat pumps can offer great heat distribution throughout a home, operating for longer periods while maintaining their output. This can result in a uniform temperature and air delivery throughout the day. In the event of an unusually cold winter day, you may need to use a space heater or a similar heating device in conjunction with your heat pump to keep your home warm.

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2. Outdoor Heat Pump Unit Freezes

frozen heat pump in winter

It’s important to regularly inspect your outdoor heat pump unit for signs of ice or frost. While a thin layer of ice may melt on its own, thick ice can block airflow and prevent the heat pump from functioning properly. This can cause long-term damage if left uncorrected. Heat pumps are equipped with a defrosting feature that can run automatically or be triggered manually. This should resolve the issue within 10-15 minutes. It’s a good idea to use a supplementary heat source while your heat pump is defrosting. If your outdoor unit continues to freeze over, it’s best to call an HVAC technician for a permanent solution.

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3. Nonstop Heat Pump Operation

If your heat pump is constantly running without reaching the desired temperature, it may be because cold air is leaking into your home and preventing it from getting warm enough. In this case, you should check for and seal any air leaks around doors and windows. Weatherstripping can be effective in preventing drafts, and improving the insulation in your walls and attic can also help. It’s always a good idea to consult a professional HVAC contractor for a thorough inspection and recommendations based on your specific situation and budget.

4. Cold Air from HVAC Vents

heat pump vent with hvac unit that is blowing cold air in winter

If you place your hand near the vents and feel cold air instead of hot air, it’s likely that there’s an issue with the heat pump’s air circulation. This could be due to blocked air paths or because the heat pump is in defrost mode. In the latter case, you’ll just need to wait for the defrost cycle to finish, which should only take a few minutes. If the problem persists, it’s best to consult a professional HVAC technician for assistance.

5. Heat Pump Drip

Moisture can accumulate inside a heat pump due to condensation, just as it does in an air conditioner. This moisture should drain away from the system via a drain pan. If you notice water dripping from the unit, it’s likely that the drainage system is not functioning properly. This could be because the system is overwhelmed by snow or rain, or because the unit is not on a level surface, causing it to rock and spill water instead of draining smoothly. In either case, it’s best to try to level the surface and see if the problem resolves on its own. If not, it’s a good idea to consult a professional HVAC technician for assistance.

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6. Heat Pump Unit Has Malfunctioned

If you find that your heat pump has suddenly turned off, there could be a few possible causes. It’s possible that someone turned it off manually in an effort to save energy, or that there’s an issue with the plug or breaker. In the case of an older heat pump, a faulty component could be the cause. The best way to determine the exact issue and find a solution is to consult a professional HVAC technician. They can diagnose the problem and provide recommendations for repair or replacement. In the meantime, you can try resetting the unit and checking the plug or breaker to see if that resolves the issue.



It’s always helpful to be aware of common heat pump issues so that you can take steps to prevent them and quickly address any problems that do arise. By recognizing the symptoms and reporting them to a trusted HVAC technician, you can help ensure that any issues are resolved quickly and efficiently. This can help you and your family enjoy a faster return to normal, comfortable indoor temperatures.

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Point Bay Fuel is a leading provider of HVAC repair and maintenance services in Ocean and Monmouth County, New Jersey. We’re dedicated to delivering exceptional service and high-quality workmanship to our clients. Our team of certified technicians is highly trained and experienced in all aspects of HVAC maintenance, repair, installation, and replacement. We pride ourselves on our ability to correctly diagnose and resolve any issues with your HVAC system, ensuring that it’s operating at peak performance and efficiency. If you’re in need of HVAC services in the Jersey shore area, don’t hesitate to contact us for prompt, professional assistance.

At Point Bay Fuel, we’re committed to offering the most competitive pricing for HVAC services in the area. Our maintenance services can help improve your comfort and reduce your energy costs, while also increasing the efficiency of your HVAC system. If you need to repair or replace your HVAC system, we can provide recommendations based on your budget and needs. We stand behind all of our work with a guarantee to ensure your complete satisfaction. To schedule a service appointment, give us a call today. Call now!

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