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airheatman, HVAC Technician
Category: HVAC
Satisfied Customers: 8326
Experience:  Furnace, A/C and heat pump specialist.
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Should the outdoor compressors come on one the heat is turned

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Should the outdoor compressors come on one the heat is turned on in the house? Currently they are not running, but the heat is on and it is blowing mostly cold air.
Hello. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'll do my best to help. Troubleshooting often requires meters and test equipment. Let's get started and see what we can do.
Yes your compressor should be running in both heat and cool modes as this is a heat pump
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

so even if the heat is set at a low temperature like 62 the compressors should come on?

If it is not on does that mean that only the heating unit is providing the heat?

If room temperature is below 62 and you have set to 62, the outdoor unit should be on.What is temp in the house ?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

right now the thermostat is set at 60 and the temp indicator says 60. so they match up. As we increase it the temps still align. I think the cold air coming out of the vents makes us think it isn't working. But maybe 60 degrees should feel cold?

If temp is close to or matched, the compressor may have already cycled off.If both temp and set point are same, nothing should be running.Blower may run about 3 minutes after thermostat is satisfied.
Is the fan selector in auto or On position?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Fan is on auto. but the blower runs continually. air does not stop coming out of the vents once temps match. What should the other switch be on? currently we have it on heat.

Heat and Auto is correct. Do this for me, Lets turn thermostat up about 6 degrees and see if outdoor unit comes on and air gets warm.. The we can turn it back down
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

thermostat is up 6 degrees. the pumps are not running, but the air is a little warmer.

Give it just a few minutes as many of these controls have a 5 minute delay built in before they allow compressor to start, but within 5 minutes, compressor should be on. Now you are in normal heat mode, not Emergency heat mode on thermostat right?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

yes they are.

Still compressor not on?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

No compressor on.


Then you definitely have a problem It sounds like just the element is coming on with blower. You actually may have more than one problem since the fan does not seem to be shutting down.
On call for heat the compressor and indoor fan should be running.If above 4 degrees difference in thermostat, both compressor and heat strips should be running until temp gets within 3 degrees of set point at which time strips should cut out and only fan and comp run until thermostat satisfied, The fan should also cycle off withing 3 minutes.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

What specifically should we say to the repairman to explain the problem?

Tell him we appear to have 2 issues. First being that the heat pump outdoor section is not coming on in heat mode and second, the indoor blower runs continuously on call for heat.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

ok. thanks. Can you explain how exactly the heat strips work? Are they more like a standard furnace? ... also, you should be aware that this website appears to be getting hung up - this is my fifth attempt to post this question

I am having issues also with the website hanging up.

In your heat pump system, the heat strips are primarily for backup heat, but when heat pump doesn't work, they take over and operate as a straight electric furnace would.

The elements are energized and heat up, then blower just blows air across them to heat the air.

It costs about 3 times as much to heat the air using the heat strips as it does using the heat pump compressor.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

ok - so, if our system was working properly, would the heat strips still kick on for a little while when we crank up the thermostat, until the heat pump gets going? ... or would they turn on only when we turn on the "emergency heat"?

If setpoint is more than 4 degrees above room temp, then the heat strips and pump work together for what is called "fast heat" the as soon as thermostat is within 4 degrees of what you are asking for , the strips cut out and stay out unless unit goes into what is called a defrost mode.At that time they come back on and keep you warm until defrost is complete. The heat pump takes back over.

Then if you turn thermostat to Emergency heat, the pump doesn't come on at all, just the heat strips

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Got it. Thanks so much for your detailed explanations. Since all we've ever had before is a standard furnace, it has been extremely helpful to learn how the heat pump and heat strips work. Much appreciated.

Thanks for allowing me to work with you and good luck with the heat pump.I would definitely get it checked though so you don't end up with outrageous power bill
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