Why Is The Heat Pump Outside Unit Not Working

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Heat pumps are becoming increasingly popular as they are more energy and cost-efficient when compared to traditional heating appliances. However, just like traditional heating systems can sometimes run into problems, the same is the case with heat pumps. So, let’s discuss one of the most common problems, like the outside unit not working, and try troubleshooting the issue yourself before bringing in HVAC repair services.

Refrigerant Leak

The outside unit consists of some essential components that work as a team to produce hot air. However, without the refrigerant, these components will not be able to work as efficiently and effectively as they are supposed to.

If you observe that your outside unit is simply not working, it might the case of a refrigerant leak. There could be several reasons contributing to a refrigerant leak. A relatively old heat pump has a higher chance of leaking than a new one. With time, cracks and damages can occur that could cause refrigerant leakage.

On the other hand, a refrigerant leak could also occur when an inexperienced individual performs HVAC maintenance. The problem with a refrigerant leak is that in some cases, the leak is so minor that it is difficult to identify. Therefore, if you suspect there is a leak, you should consult an expert.

Dirty Evaporator And Condenser Coils

The next possible issue might be dirty evaporator and condenser coils. Since both coils are located in the outside unit, they have to bear the brunt of the extreme weather conditions. As a result, the coils can become accumulated with dirt, dust, and debris, making it difficult for them to perform.

If they are ignored and not maintained, these coils turn hot and reduce efficiency. As a result, they will simply give up and you will need to replace them. It can also be that dead shrubs, branches and leaves have found their way inside during a thunderstorm and are blocking the heat dispersion of the coils.

So, if there is anything as such, you should remove it and make sure the coils are in perfect working condition, without any cracks or damages.

The Outdoor Unit Is Frozen

Since heat pumps are mostly used in the winter season, it is normal for them to freeze when several layers of ice cover the outside unit. If you own a newer version heat pump, it must include an automatic defrost cycle feature that will automatically make the unit go into defrost mode.

However, there is still going to be a layer of thick ice that impedes the transfer between the outside coil and air. As a result, the heat pump will not be able to warm up your house properly. Furthermore, if the thick layer or layers of ice are left to sit for too long, it could permanently damage the heat pump.

The Outdoor Unit Is Not Defrosting

As mentioned previously, newer heat pumps come with a defrosting feature that helps the unit melt ice by switching to air conditioning mode. The air conditioning mode heats the outdoor unit, which causes the ice to melt away. However, in some cases, the defrosting process may simply not work.

If that is the case, you should check the reversing valve as it is responsible for switching the heat pump from heat to air conditioning mode. If the reversing valve happens to be faulty, the heat pump will not be able to switch between modes.

Moreover, it could be that your heat pump’s defrost timer has given up. The defrost timer is designed to turn on periodically. And if the defrost timer is faulty, the heat pump will simply not defrost periodically as it should.

The Heat Pump Needs Replacement

Finally, if your heat pump is regularly experiencing problems, it simply means it has outlived its timespan. At this point, you cannot do much about it but opt for a replacement. Spending money on expensive repairs and replacements won’t do you any good as the unit’s overall efficiency would have decreased as well. That said, it is better that you save up the money and buy a new heat pump.


In the end, troubleshooting a faulty outside heat pump unit can be both easy and complicated at the same time. Keep the tips mentioned above in mind and consult heating repair services for the best possible solution. topac


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