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December 8, 2020
Of all the things that can go wrong in your Metro Phoenix area home, there are few things more frustrating than putting your hand up to your heating vent only to feel cold air blowing. If your heating system isn’t working the way it’s supposed to, you could be in big trouble.
So what’s going on? Well, depending on whether you’re using a heat pump or a furnace to heat your home, the answer could be very different! Let’s explain why your heat pump or furnace might not be working the way you’re expecting it to, and whether you need to call for professional help.
The Reason Your Heat Pump Is Blowing Cold Air
If you’re reading this and you have a heat pump, there’s good news—contrary to what you might fear, this is likely normal heat pump operation!
Heat pumps transfer heat from one location to another—they don’t create it like a furnace does. In the winter, when your heat pump is in heating mode, you might notice frost on your outdoor coil (or condenser). That’s actually due to the water vapor in the air condensing and freezing as it comes into contact with the colder temperatures of your heat pump coils and the refrigerant inside them.
But frost on your outdoor coils can inhibit air flow and affect your heat pump’s performance. That’s why, when your heat pump senses frost buildup, it switches to cooling or defrost mode, so that the outdoor coils warm up and melt the frost. While that happens, it’s normal for some cooler air to come through your vents into your home. But when your coils are defrosted, your heat pump should switch back to heating mode and you’ll feel warm air out of your vents once again!
What If You See Steam Coming Out of the Outdoor Coil?
This is perfectly normal, too! Sometimes homeowners mistake this steam for smoke for a major issue with their heat pumps, but it’s just vapor rising up from the defrosted coils—all a part of the way a heat pump is designed to operate.
The Reason Your Furnace Is Blowing Cool Air
If your home has a gas furnace that’s blowing cold air, that’s another story, and it’s very likely that you’re experiencing some kind of issue with your heating unit. There are a few common reasons this can happen:
1. Your Thermostat Fan is Set to On, Not Auto
We understand this is slightly counterintuitive, but when the fan setting on your thermostat is set to “On,” it means that your furnace’s blower fan will run continuously, even if the burners aren’t running. The correct setting is “Auto.”
2. Your Furnace Has Overheated
If your furnace’s heat exchanger gets too hot, your furnace will turn off the burners but keep the blower fan running to try to cool them down. If your heat exchangers are overheating, it could be a sign that your air filters are dirty and need to be replaced, as they aren’t letting enough air flow into the furnace. If it keeps happening, you’ll want to call a professional heating technician to inspect, as an issue like this could be a design flaw with the return ductwork being undersized
3. Your Furnace Isn’t Getting Any Gas
Without gas, your furnace’s burners won’t be able to heat air it sends out into your home. If there’s an issue with your gas supply line, and you’re sure the valve is open but your furnace still isn’t heating, it’s time to call in an expert to take a look and see what’s going on.
Contact Ideal Energy for Expert Air Conditioning and Heating Services
Even after reading some of the HVAC basics above, if you’re still not sure whether you need emergency furnace repair or assistance with your heat pump, reach out to the local heating and cooling experts at Ideal Energy. Whether your furnace won’t turn on and you need service or you’re thinking about upgrading your Scottsdale or Mesa home’s heating system and would like to speak with an expert about heat pump vs. furnace pros and cons, our team is here to assist!