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Why is my Heat Pump Blowing Cold Air? A NJ Tech Answers

Oct. 23, 2020
Have your heat pump on but notice that the air coming from your vents is a little cooler than you’d expect it to be?
If your heat pump is blowing cold air, there are three possible explanations: 
  1. Your heat pump isn't actually blowing cold air, it just feels cold to you 
  2. Your heat pump is in defrost mode
  3. There's an actual issue with your heat pump
Below, we’ll look at each of these potential answers in more detail, so you can determine why your heat pump is blowing cold air and what you can/should do about it.

If you’d rather have a professional take a look at your heat pump, we’d be happy to help. We have over 26 years of experience helping NJ homeowners with their heat pumps, and we can certainly help you too. Learn more about our heat pump repair services or schedule service! 
 

Answer #1: Your heat pump isn’t actually blowing cold air

On average, heat pumps produce air between 90 and 100 degrees. However, cooler temperatures outside can sometimes impact the temperature of air produced by your heat pump. Here's why:

Heat pumps actually heat your home’s air by absorbing heat from the air outside and drawing that heat into your home. The colder it gets outside, the less warmth there is for the heat pump to bring inside. Ultimately, this means the temperature of air the heat pump produces will decrease. 

However, 90 degree air is perfectly hot enough to adequately heat your home, it just may not feel very warm because the average body temperature is 98 degrees.

So when it’s really cold out and your heat pump starts to produce air that’s closer to 85-90 degrees, it may feel cold, but is probably still heating your home perfectly.

Our suggestion would be to raise your thermostat a few degrees. Does your home get warmer? If so, your heat pump is probably working just fine. 
 

Answer #2: Your heat pump is in defrost mode

As we mentioned above, heat pumps heat your home by drawing in heat from the air outside. But, if your heat pump is frosted over, it can go into defrost mode, which actually directs heat TO your outdoor unit in order to melt the frost and get your system running properly.

This means your heat pump will switch from bringing heat from your outdoor unit into your home to taking heat from your indoor unit to your outdoor unit — essentially, your heat pump goes into cooling mode.

Usually, it doesn’t take long for your heat pump to defrost the outdoor unit, so if you only notice cold air coming from your vents for a few minutes, your heat pump is probably working to defrost your outdoor unit.
 
Our suggestion would be to go take a look at your outdoor unit. Is it covered in frost? If so, your heat pump is probably just in defrost mode. 

If not, or if your heat pump continues to blow cold air after a few minutes, read on to the next section where we’ll talk about what could be wrong with your heat pump.
 

Answer #3: There's an issue with your heat pump

If your heat pump isn’t  producing air hotter than 85 degrees and it’s not in defrost mode, there’s probably an issue with your system.

Some heat pump issues that may cause your heat pump to blow cold air include: 

A broken reversing valve- The reversing valve is the part of your heat pump that determines whether your heat pump is in heating mode or cooling mode. In heating mode, your heat pump absorbs heat from the air outside and draws that heat into your home. In cooling mode, your heat pump absorbs heat from the air inside and dumps that heat outside. If the reversing valve is broken or faulty, your heat pump may be in cooling mode, which may be why you notice cool air coming from your heat pump. 

A refrigerant leak-  Refrigerant is the substance that absorbs heat and carries it into your home. If your heat pump has a refrigerant leak, there won’t be as much refrigerant to absorb heat, which means less heat will be taken into your home per heating cycle, making your air cooler. 

Frozen parts- If parts of your outdoor unit are legitimately frozen, your heat pump will not be able to bring heat into your home to heat your indoor air, which is why you may notice cold air coming from your vents. If you notice that one or several parts of your outdoor unit are frozen, you’ll need to reach out to a pro for help. 

Aging heat pump- If your heat pump is aging it may no longer be able to work efficiently, which means it could struggle to heat your home properly. On average, heat pumps last about 10-15 years, so if your heat pump is near this range, your heat pump may simply need to be replaced.

If you’re experiencing any of the issues we listed above, you’ll need to reach out to a professional for help. An experienced tech will be able to accurately diagnose the issue and provide you with recommended solutions and their costs.
 

Need help with your heat pump? Contact Air Experts

If you’re having trouble with your heat pump and need a professional to accurately diagnose the issue, we’d be happy to help. We’ve been around for quite a few years, so we know a thing or two about why your heat pump may be producing cold air and what needs to be done to fix it.

Schedule repair!