Heat pump/heat strip

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Jenn, Jan 18, 2007.

  1. Jenn

    Jenn Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Can anyone refer me to- or tell me here- about why my heat pump doesn't seem to be heating? The ground floor one works fine, sometimes with the 'Aux. Heat' light coming on, and 'Emergency heat' a choice we never switch it to. That one has heat strips added as part of the house inspection/sale, the top floor one still has no heat strips in it.

    We rarely turn on the heat upstairs since heat rises and the computer room is up there and really heats things up. However with night temps 30's and day temps only 50's we've sort of wanted it on a few days lately but it only pours out cold air (BTW registers upstairs on ceilings, downstairs are on floors) and we've given up on it. Today (without complaining sleepers under the vents) I tried to raise temp up there and don't think I did- it actually perhaps went down from 65 to 63 degrees (but bet the back rooms were warmer just from spreading the air around). Also the outside unit's fan is not turning on for the upstairs when it was putting air through the registers unlike the downstairs one. So that absence of fan means it's not working as it should, correct?
     
  2. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    You are correct, the upstairs unit is not functioning and the downstairs unit cannot keep up with just the heatpump output and periodically the strip heat(aux) is kicking in. There are many reasons the upstairs unit is not functioning such as breaker tripped, system low on freon, electrical contactor defective, blown capacitor, etc.
     

  3. Explorer

    Explorer Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Do you have low temp heat pumps?

    It has been cold in your state recently and unless you have a modern low temp heat pump it operation may be affected. At certain conditions (low temperature, high humidity), frost, even ice, may build up on the coil of the outdoor unit.
     
  4. fixer1958

    fixer1958 None of the Above

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    This probably isn't relavent to the situation. But I "had" a heat pump for 15 years. Worked fairly well to about 30 degrees. Below that, the fireplace had to get fired up and stay fired up. 3500sf to heat. We have an all electric house and the monthly bill averaged $150 a month. This spring the AC/HeatPump gave up. Bit the bullet and got a new electric furnace/ac system. Fairly economical by the numbers. This winter I haven't even opened the fireplace doors (only to get the birds out) and the bill is the same. Granted this winter hasn't been as cold, but there has been several weeks at a time that has been well below freezing everyday. Every winter we have lived to keep the fireplace stoked because it takes to long to heat up after things chill down. Now I feel like I'm cheating.
    Getting kind of fat to because I haven't had to cut or haul wood.
     
  5. COSunflower

    COSunflower Country Girl Supporter

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    I've had a heat pump for years and love it too! I would say that the upstairs thermostat is not working correctly and would have the heat pump people come out and look at it. That happened to mine once.
     
  6. Hammer4

    Hammer4 Well-Known Member

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    Heat pumps can't produce much heat once the outside temperature drops below freezing. More modern units do better than older ones, but once its below freezing out, there isn't enough heat to be grabbed from the air to be transferred into to the house for them to function.

    That's when the 'emergency' heating strips kick in, which is nothing more than an electric heating element added to system to produce some heat.

    Is the outside compressor unit for the upstairs system turning on? You could have a circuit breaker ( or fuse ) tripped going to it or something, thus its not turning on, and no heat is being grabbed from outside, so no warm air coming out of the vents upstairs...

    Whoops, I just reread your initial post. Yes, the outside unit has to come on to move that freon around with air blown over it to capture the outside heat and bring it inside...check for a tripped circuit breaker or call your local hvac guy at this point if you don't feel comfortable troubleshooting it.

    With highs in the 50s and lows in the 30s, heat pumps should work great for you.

    Walmart has little room sized heaters for around $20 if you just need to grab one of those for the kids room until you get this fixed or something, modern ones with safety tipover switches, etc, are very safe. Or maybe you have one stuffed in the attic...or maybe you can borrow one.

    Keep us informed!
     
  7. Jenn

    Jenn Well-Known Member Supporter

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    You saved me a $50 (or gulp $100!) service call. Mention of circuit breakers got me to try turning back on the one marked "attic fan"- no result- then the outside unmarked (of course! but I'm going to fix that) box had one that was turned off, I don't know why, accident or tripped or turned off as we dug in the back yard for extra safety as they cut unknown wires. Finally saw some movement in that unit's outside fan. Start stop only- and was just ready to try running its AC function when the fan kicked on (wasn't waiting long enough after turning on that circuit breaker)- despite that attic fan circuit breaker being back off again (half the coldness is that attic being so chilly around the rooms up there- don't want that fan turning on everytime the attic gets above 60 degr!)- and now have heat coming out of the vents up there actually!

    Thanks everyone for guiding me to troubleshoot it myself- was just debating that I'd rather call someone out than uncover the screwed on outlet covers to the outdoor units when I thought of that last circuit box outside.

    Stay warm out there, and thanks to you so will we!
     
  8. CGUARDSMAN

    CGUARDSMAN Well-Known Member

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    I have a heat pump unit at my place but it is backed up by a propane fired furnace. The first winter i lived here i couldn't figure out why when I had the "heat" on on the thermostat that it would not keep it warm below freezing. then i went and checked the propane tank and the valve was turned off :eek: . when i got that turned back on it heated things right up! The nice thing about the heat pump unit is that is sure saves on the propane!