Service FAQ's

Can I repair my own heat pump?

In most cases, no.  Heat Pumps are on a 240-volt circuit.  Severe shock or electrocution is possible without a thorough understanding of electricity.  Also, cooling systems today are more complicated to service than ever with solid state circuit boards and sensors.  They usually require expert attention in order to comply with federal regulations, such as the Clean Air Act which prohibits releasing refrigerants into the atmosphere.  An EPA – certified air conditioning contractor or a service technician should be called at the first sign of trouble.

Here is some Basic Troubleshooting you can do:

  1. Make certain that the thermostat is set higher than the actual room temperature and the selector switch is on heat if heat is needed, or that the thermostat is set lower than the actual room temperature and the switch is on cool if air conditioning is desired.  If the thermostat is programmable, be sure the batteries are fresh.
  2. Test for power to the air handler by moving the fan switch from “auto” to “on”.  If the blower runs, the air handler is functional.  If nothing happens, check the circuit breakers on the air handler cabinet and the breakers or fuses in the main panel.  If any breakers are tripped, reset them once.  If they trip again do not reset them.  Deadly high voltage conditions exist inside the air handler cabinet and inside the access panel of the condenser.  Let a qualified serviceman open them.
  3. If the air handler runs constantly but cannot satisfy the thermostat setting, it is possible the backup heat is running but the condenser is not.  Some condensers have the high-pressure cut-out switch externally accessible.  Look for a button sticking out of the cabinet in the vicinity of the refrigerant pipes.  Press it on.  If the machine starts up and the head pressure gets too high, this is most likely caused by a plugged air filter or plugged indoor coil. As the unit ages, the switch can weaken and pop easily.  If the condition repeats itself often, have a serviceman check it.
  4. Because all the controls are internally mounted, and high voltage wiring is exposed, only a serviceman should open panels.

Should I build a roof over my heat pump?

For units that blow air out the top of the unit, a roof should be at least 4-6 feet above the top of the unit, depending on the manufacturer. If the roof is built too low it can cause air recirculation which reduces heating output drastically.

For units that blow air out horizontally, a roof can go 1 foot or more above the outdoor unit so long as there is access to top panel for servicing.

Why is white smoke or steam coming off my heat pump?

It’s OK! This is a very common question. Your heat pump is automatically melting built up ice. The outdoor fan will stop, the unit will switch over hot gas to the outdoor coil for a few minutes and the unit should thaw out. When the fan turns back on it will blow steam off. Make sure the units have space around it for the runoff. Built up snow or debris should always be cleared. It should resume normal operation after a few minutes.

Why is my heat pump frozen?

Heat pumps can and will frost up in cold weather. Within maximum 90 minutes, the heat pump should go into a defrost cycle in which the fan stops and the outdoor coil becomes warm until all the frost is melted (about a 4-10 minute cycle).  A North American style ducted heat pump has a backup stage, the secondary heat source is the auxiliary heat source.

If the unit does not defrost the first thing to do is change the thermostat mode to emergency heat to lock out the heat pump.  This will switch the unit to use the secondary electric or gas heat until the defrost problem is repaired.  It is important to do this as a heat pump that is covered in ice or frost and allowed to keep operating is not collecting heat and is wasting power, also if not repaired the ice can crush the refrigerant pipes in the heat pump.

Why does my heat pump run all the time?

Heat pumps extract heat from the air and therefore do not produce the same amount of heat as most fossil fuel furnaces.  On a cold day, your heat pump should run continually.  If your heat pump runs continuously on a moderately cold day, it might be an air flow problem or a refrigerant problem.  Airflow can be interrupted by a dirty filter or a dirty coil.  Check and replace the filter if it is dirty, if this does not remedy the situation, you will have to call a qualified serviceman.

Do cleaning my ducts relieve allergies?

Some people feel it does, while others don’t notice much of a difference. It may depend on what you are allergic to. Clean ducts certainly won’t make them worse. The only way to know if it will work for you is to try it. If dust is impacted on the surface of the ducting over the years it likely will stay where it is.

Do plastic air deflectors improve airflow?

Not usually. Plastic air deflectors are not normally beneficial to heating. They cause drafts and can cause ice to form on windows. Registers are placed below windows to allow the heat to rise and insulate the window with warm air. When this does not happen the air that is in contact with the cool window will drop to the floor forming drafts that will make the room less comfortable.

What areas does ServiceXCEL do repairwork?

We service Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast, and the Gulf Islands*

*Service areas include:  Campbell River and area, Comox and area, Courtenay and area, Duncan and area, Gold River and area, Lantzville and area, Nanaimo and area, Parksville and area, Port Alberni and area, Powell River and area, Qualicum Beach and area, also the Gulf Islands:  Denman Island, Gabriola Island, Hornby Island, Pender Island, Quadra Island, Salt Spring Island, Thetis Island.