View Full Version : Heat Pump Problem

01-31-2007, 06:10 AM
Last night I noticed the outside condenser unit for my heat pump was making a loud buzzing noise. I whent out to look at it and saw that the fan was not running. The Freon supply and return lines were both warm. I went into the house and turned off the heat at the thrmostat. The air handler kept running, blowing semi warm air, and the condenser started steaming??? The only way I could get the air handler to stop circulating was to flip the breakers. The temp last night was about 25 degrees.

When I got up this morning, I fired everything up and it all worked fine.

Does anyone have any idea what the heck happened? Is there any fire hazard?

Any info you can give me is appreciated. I'm going to call a pro to look at it, but I always like to have an idea of what's going on ahead of time.

01-31-2007, 09:02 AM
Since I believe the only moving parts at the outside condenser unit, which for a heat pump this time of year is really the evaporator, although I don't know if they really swap terminology... so I'm guessing your fan motor failed to start, which is what the buzzing was all about. I would change out that motor ASAP.


01-31-2007, 09:48 AM
Both the compressor and the fan need to run on a heat pump for it to work. In the summer, it pumps heat out of the house, in the winter, it pumps heat into the house. The colder it is outside, the lower the efficiency. Most of the systems then switch on resistance heaters to augment the heat requirements. The lukewarm air you had may have been from the heating elements in the air handler, since the heat pump was off.

01-31-2007, 02:32 PM
Heat pumps often have crankcase heaters....could this have been the steam? How cold was it outside? Heat pumps start to phase out around 30

01-31-2007, 05:28 PM
Heat pumps also have to defrost their outside coils (whatever they are called) in cold weather. Mine will periodically make weird noises and give off "steam" like you describe. Good to have a pro check it out but may be perfectly normal.

02-01-2007, 03:54 AM
Thanks for the advice. This heat pump thing is all new to me. I just bought the house. I called the guy that I use for all my AC and Heatpump work. He also said it was in "defrost" mode. He said it's normal and there was no need for a service call. It's nice to have a good HVAC Pro you can turn to. Props to JR Mechanical in Perry Hall MD (and everyone else who replied)

PS Hope I didn't breach forum etiquette by mentioning the company's name.

01-15-2009, 04:25 PM
I have a quick Question. If I turn on my heat and it seemingly works fine...but when I go outside neither the fan on the air conditioner/heat unit or the heat pump are on is this a bad thing or what does it mean? I believe the heat pump is only for upstairs...

01-15-2009, 04:40 PM
It likely means that it is too cold for the heat pump to work, and the resistance heaters (like in your toaster) are running to provide heat. An air sourced heat pump won't work when it gets really cold. A ground sourced pump (one that uses heat from the earth) often will continue to provide heat via the heat pump since, when installed properly, the earth probably doesn't get below 40-degress (and probably warmer).

01-16-2009, 01:46 PM
Thanks...great site

01-20-2009, 08:55 AM
A heatpump will defrost in heating mode and when it happens the outdoor fan will cut off, the freon will reverse which can make a odd sound, and steam/water will come from the unit. If there is something wrong with the unit the fan will never come back on. I would turn it back on and give it a few min. and see what happens. Also the indoor fan was running because the t-stat was still calling for heat and this is what controls the units. So by turning off the outdoor unit would not have turned the indoor unit off. Think your unit is in normal operation.