Why is My Heat Pump Blowing Cold Air [Solutions]

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Is your heat pump blowing cold air? Don’t worry, it’s not unusual for a heat pump to blow cold air when it’s on heat.  There’re many reasons your heat pump could be blowing cold air. These could be any of the following issues, your heat pump is in defrosting mode, your thermostat settings, the refrigerant is leaking, dirty outdoor unit, circuit breaker tripped, leaky ductwork.

We shall be discussing these and many other issues shortly in this article. And because we hate to leave you with no solution, we have also provided DIY try outs on each of the potential causes.

heat pump blowing cold air

Why is My Heat Pump Blowing Cold Air?

When you first turn on your heat pump, it’s very normal for it to blow cold air then warm air. This happens more often when the cold air trapped in the ductwork is flushing out but soon the warm air should start coming out of your vents.

Other times your heat pump will blow cold air when your outdoor unit is covered in ice or snow. It will start defrosting your outdoor unit by going into the defrost mode. In defrosting mode, it will temporally blow cold air to warm up the coils in your outdoor unit and melt away the ice and snow.

Defrosting typically takes up to 10 minutes, and if your heat pump continues blowing cold air beyond 10 minutes it could a sign of any of these issues.

1. Reverse Valve Issues

Heat pumps are equipped with the reverse valve for switching between the cooling and the heating modes. Did you switch to the heating mode? If a reverse valve is not working or dead its always left on the cooling.

The Fix?  If you think you have a problem with the reverse valve, a call to the HVAC experts is in order.

2. Heat Pump Blows Cold Air: Leaking Refrigerant

Have you checked the reverse valve, and everything looks great? There is one possible reason your heat pump is still blowing cold air on heat. That is, the refrigerant is too low or leaking.

Sometimes leaks can develop within your HVAC system and this could cause the refrigerant to escape. And, when it does escape, your HVAC system will not blow hot air when put it on the heat mode and neither will it blow cold when put on the cooling mode.

This is because Heat pumps do not generate heat like furnaces do. Instead, they use the refrigerant to transfer heat from the cooler side to the warmer side.

The Fix?  If you think your system might be running low on the refrigerant. Call in a technician to come and take a look.

3. Blocked Outdoor Unit

Heat pumps usually are installed with an outdoor unit and an indoor unit. The outdoor unit has a coil and a fan, and the indoor unit has the coil and a fan too.

On the heating mode, the outdoor unit will work as the evaporator and the indoor unit as the condenser.

So, if the outdoor unit(evaporator) is covered with debris or leaves, it won’t be able to absorb much heat energy. Because of that, the heat pump will blow cold air.

The Fix? Make sure that the outdoor unit is always kept free of objects such as leaves, dirt or even snow and ice. If your outdoor unit is covered with grass, you can blow the grass away. if there is ice covering it, you can pour hot water on it to melt down the ice. This is an easy fix which should get your heat pump back on track quickly.

4. The Mix Up in Your Ductwork

You could be getting cold air from vents when your heat pump is on heat because there are leaks in your ductwork.

Air ducts carry the warm air from the heat pump’s fan for distribution throughout your home. However, if your ductwork has leaks, the hot air could be escaping and the cold air could be getting into the air ducts. This mix up of air is what could be making the cool air blow out of vents.

The Fix. If you think you have leaky air ducts, you can seal them off using the duct tape (metallic duct tape is more effective than any other duct tape). If it’s something that you can’t fix yourself, call HVAC professionals to come and help.

5. Circuit Breaker tripped

 Another thing that could negatively affect how your heat pump works is a tripped circuit breaker. When power to your outdoor unit is cut off, it will not absorb any heat from the outside air. Meanwhile the fan from the inside unit (the condenser) will continue blowing air on the cold coils. Because of that, only cool air will be blown out of your vents.

The Fix: If the outdoor unit is not working. Check the circuit breaker panel and look out for the outdoor unit breaker. If it has tripped, reset it. This should start your outdoor unit. If the breaker keeps on tripping, it could be a sign that there is a problem with your HVAC system or its safety measure.

In this case call a licensed HVAC professional.


How do you reset your heat pump?

You can reset your heat pump by doing this:

  1. Turn off your heat pump by using the thermostat.  Then switch it off by using the power switch
  2. Go into the breaker panel and switch off the breaker for both the outdoor and the indoor unit
  3. Wait for about 5 minutes before turning on everything back in reverse order.

Can a heat pump run without freon?

A heat pump cannot run without freon (refrigerant). A refrigerant is needed in a heat pump to transfer heat from the outside air to the inside of your home. And it also works in the reverse when you need cooling in your home. A heat pump that has leaking or no freon would

  1. Not provide any heating or cooling for your home
  2. If your heat pump is not recharged for a long, this could damage your air compressor, bringing in more costly repairs.

Do heat pumps lose Freon over time?

A heat pump does not lose freon no matter how long it is used.  A refrigerant can only escape if there is a leak withing its path. If you suspect a leak of your refrigerant, call in an HVAC technician who can come and verify the refrigerant charge.

Final Thought on Heat Pump Blowing Cold Air

There are countless things that can negatively affect how your heat pump works. But when your heat pump blows cold air, go through these tips we have provided before calling an HVAC technician.    If you are not sure about anything, call in professionals.

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