During the “in-between seasons” in eastern North Carolina, if you’re using a heat pump to both heat and cool your home, the process for controlling comfort can get complicated during days when it’s cold at night and warm in the daytime. One of these seasons, fall, is fast approaching. You’d think it would be easy enough to switch back and forth between comfort modes, but transitioning seasons can result in system breakdowns and other problems.
Most of the time this isn’t a problem. However, in some cases, switching between cooling and heating in the same system can make the system shut down. “Short-cycling” the heat pump’s cooling mode (operating it so the equipment is turning off and on frequently) can trip the circuit breaker for the split-system’s outside unit.
This is a common mistake. When your heat pump is operating as an A/C, and the thermostat is set to “cool,” the outdoor condensing unit is operating. If the so-called “set-point temperature” is set higher to shut down the cooling, and then later set lower for cooling, this can confuse the system and lock up the outside compressor.
It works in the opposite way, too. If the heat pump completes a cooling cycle and shuts down, and you set the thermostat at a lower temperature, the equipment will try to restart, but as with the other scenario, the compressor may lock up and shut down. The pressure in the system has not equalized sufficiently.
Fortunately, some heat pumps have safeguards against this problem, either in the digital thermostat or in an “anti-short-cycling” timer in the unit itself.
To prevent situations where your heat pump locks up, try waiting at least five minutes after shutting down the system before beginning another cycle. This way, the refrigerant pressure will have more time to equalize. If your system does end up locking up and resetting the circuit breaker doesn’t fix the issue, call your trusted HVAC contractor to come and assess the problem.
For help transitioning seasons with your Eastern North Carolina home’s HVAC system, contact the professionals at Jackson and Sons, Inc.
Jackson & Sons, Inc.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Eastern North Carolina (including Wayne, Johnston, Greene, Lenoir, Pitt and Duplin Counties) about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).
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