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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    Unhappy Heat Pump - Nothing But Problems

    My heat pump has been nothing but problems lately. The first call began when it was toggling on and off and the compressor was cutting out. The tech found that a shaeder valve on the suction line was leaking and replaced it and charged the system. At this point I purchased a service agreement (luckily - read on). I had to call the company back out about a couple weeks later because the same thing was happening. The tech (whom I like) said the capacitor was bad, causing the toggling, and the freon had leaked out due to a leaking shraeder valve on the liquid line. I like how the tech was honest and said he probably caused it when he removed his gauges. This was Friday. The heat worked for two, almost three days until recently today, I noticed the compressor had cut out again and now I am getting cool air from the registers. I felt the refrigerant lines in the utility room to verify that the heat pump was not pumping. The fan on the heat pump runs, but the compressor does not. This is getting a bit strange/frustrating. The good news is the service agreement covers a lot; I did not pay anything for the most recent service call and won't have to pay anything for the next (as long as it's nothing major like a compressor or something). Your thoughts and experience are greatly appreciated for this matter. Regards.

    Edit: Now the heat pump is pumping again (keyword now), but I'm almost certain this will continue. I will keep you guys posted. In the mean time, any thoughts? How big would a leak have to be for it to leak around 5 lbs. of freon in 2-3 days?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Suppy NC
    Posts
    4,513
    if your problem is refrigerant a leak that size should be easy to find. Maybe not so eay to fix tho

    the key here is just what is wrong and why isnt it being fixed

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    DC Metro Area (MD)
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    Could it be in the lineset? I should have mentioned that a leak test was performed upon the first service call (soap bubbles) on the outdoor and indoor units, but not on a good amount of the lineset. Could the Lennox 13 SEER air handler that the Payne 10 SEER heat pump is paired with be causing these problems? I doubt it, but it's worth a guess. Thanks for the response.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    DC Metro Area (MD)
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    Here is what I recently witnessed:

    The heat pump started per the heat call, ran for a very short period, stopped, turn back on, and has been running ever since but with thick frost building up on the coil. Does this sound like it is low on freon? Could my compressor be dying? It sounds terrible... probably the worst I've ever heard it... very loud, too.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Durham,N.C.
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    117
    Quote Originally Posted by RyanHughes View Post
    Could it be in the lineset? I should have mentioned that a leak test was performed upon the first service call (soap bubbles) on the outdoor and indoor units, but not on a good amount of the lineset. Could the Lennox 13 SEER air handler that the Payne 10 SEER heat pump is paired with be causing these problems? I doubt it, but it's worth a guess. Thanks for the response.
    next time you call them out ask for an electronic leak check it may be in your coil and that is hard to find with soap bubbles

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Winter Springs, Fl
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    1,755
    IMO the tech should have replaced both schrader valves when he found one of the original ones leaking or at least checked them real good w/ a sniffer. A 5 lb leak in 2-3 days is a decent sized one that should easily be found, maybe even by ear if in the right place. Mismatching SEER rated equipment only gives you a more expensive power bill than if the system was matched 100% The only way to find the leak is to seperate the lineset components and pressure test/ leak check with a reliable sniffer ( electronic leak detector ) . Evap coil, suction line, liquid line, CU needs to be tested seperately to see exactly where it is. I have had on occasion the flare nut on the liquid line at the CU develop a leak due to a lawn mower or HO disturbing it.

    Good Luck with it.
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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Winter Springs, Fl
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    Quote Originally Posted by RyanHughes View Post
    Here is what I recently witnessed:

    The heat pump started per the heat call, ran for a very short period, stopped, turn back on, and has been running ever since but with thick frost building up on the coil. Does this sound like it is low on freon? Could my compressor be dying? It sounds terrible... probably the worst I've ever heard it... very loud, too.
    It could be but maybe it's not properly defrosting, partially because of the low refrigerant level. He needs to check the defrost operation and check the coil sensors. The OD coil should not appear to have frost on it right after a defrost cycle.
    If you can't learn to do something well, learn to enjoy doing it poorly.

    The HVAC-Talk Educational Forums is the best place on the net for your HVAC/R info!!!

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  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    He did test the defrost cycle; that checked out okay. I will have to take a closer look at it tomorrow when hopefully it's not raining and dark. In general, when a heat pump is low on freon, is the suction line going to be hotter? It's quite hot when the compressor is running. I will keep you guys posted. Thoughts are still more than welcome. Thanks.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Tampa, Florida
    Posts
    706

    mention this..

    I believe your problem lies in the bi-metal switch that has (2) pink wires coming from it & goes to the defrost board. I have replaced a few of these bi-metal switches on 10 seer Payne Heat pumps & Carriers as well. When the unit is in heat pump mode, eventually the outside coil begin to develope frost/ice on it, the switch clamps to an end loop on the outdoor coil. When the switch gets cold enough from the developing frost/ice, it closes the circuit path & after the pre-selected running time has been achieved ( 30,50,90 min.) it will allow the unit to go in to defrost mode. If the switch does not close, the unit will not go in to defrost. When he tested to defrost board, it only tests the circuits on the board, not the bi-metal switch. It basically ignores the switch & allows the unit to go in to defrost. But, in normal operation, if the switch does close, unit will not initiate the defrost cycle. Example - the board is set on 60 minutes ( yellow wire w/ pin connector) & the unit has been running for 45 minutes and is frosting over pretty good, the switch should close. Once it reaches 60 minutes of operating time, it sends a signal out through those pink wires, if the switch is closed it will then initiate defrost. If the switch is not closed, it will continue to run until the switch closes or the system cycles off, reseting the count down timer. Print this out and let the tech coming tomorrow read it. Hope this helps you out, I think it will. note- this bi-metal switch initiates defrost by closing & terminates defrost by opening.

  10. #10
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    May 2007
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    DC Metro Area (MD)
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    Thank you for all that info Badbillr. I'll have to mention this. I think I know what you're talking about. It's two yellow wires coming from a small refrigerant tube I think.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Beautiful, Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love!
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    1,096

    This says nothing to the fact that the compressor is not running, as he stated in his

    Quote Originally Posted by badbillr View Post
    I believe your problem lies in the bi-metal switch that has (2) pink wires coming from it & goes to the defrost board. I have replaced a few of these bi-metal switches on 10 seer Payne Heat pumps & Carriers as well. When the unit is in heat pump mode, eventually the outside coil begin to develope frost/ice on it, the switch clamps to an end loop on the outdoor coil. When the switch gets cold enough from the developing frost/ice, it closes the circuit path & after the pre-selected running time has been achieved ( 30,50,90 min.) it will allow the unit to go in to defrost mode. If the switch does not close, the unit will not go in to defrost. When he tested to defrost board, it only tests the circuits on the board, not the bi-metal switch. It basically ignores the switch & allows the unit to go in to defrost. But, in normal operation, if the switch does close, unit will not initiate the defrost cycle. Example - the board is set on 60 minutes ( yellow wire w/ pin connector) & the unit has been running for 45 minutes and is frosting over pretty good, the switch should close. Once it reaches 60 minutes of operating time, it sends a signal out through those pink wires, if the switch is closed it will then initiate defrost. If the switch is not closed, it will continue to run until the switch closes or the system cycles off, reseting the count down timer. Print this out and let the tech coming tomorrow read it. Hope this helps you out, I think it will. note- this bi-metal switch initiates defrost by closing & terminates defrost by opening.
    post. The frost build up is normal operation in cold temperatures, if however the frost turns to ice, or gets totally insane, then one could say the defrost is not working.

    Feeling the pipes is not a good indicator of operation, as the unit could be in defrost. What might be responsible for the cold air is a defect in the back up resistance heat elements or control that brings them on. Check your filter!

    A dirty filter, or other restriction of the air flow across the coil could cause your compressor to cycle off on high pressure, or compressor internal limit switch. This restriction of airflow would be akin to running your cooling in the summer with a cover on the outside unit.

    I will make a prediction, after a few more (money losing) call backs you will be informed that your compressor is bad (something not covered under the service agreement). Hopefully replacing the unit will solve the problem.

    Personally I like installing heatpumps in the summer, I however don't like to work on them in the winter. Having a tech do a through leak check in freezing weather is not going to happen. Most call backs we have are on heat pumps in the winter, I can't blame the techs, working on heat pumps are why I started my own business 26 years ago, just so I could say no service on frigging cold days. I tell customers to put it in emergency heat until it is safe to go outside.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    DC Metro Area (MD)
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    The resistance heat is working. The outside fan continues running even if the compressor turns off. I'm pretty good with changing the filter, although I will check it (I don't think it's been too much over a month, but I will check it). I think my problem is the opposite of high pressure.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
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    You state the compressor turns off, or when the unit cycles off?

    Quote Originally Posted by RyanHughes View Post
    The resistance heat is working. The outside fan continues running even if the compressor turns off. I'm pretty good with changing the filter, although I will check it (I don't think it's been too much over a month, but I will check it). I think my problem is the opposite of high pressure.
    If the fan is running all on its own or does not cycle off when the unit is in defrost then the relay that controls the fan has welded contacts. One weird possiblity would be if one leg of the fan motor is shorted to ground, while the other is hot all the time, this can happen on one pole contactors. In this case the fan motor would be running on 115 volt. One would think on a call for operation this would trip the breaker, but then again not if the wire was not connected to the other pole.

    Does the fan motor look like it is running slower than normal?

    Is the fan motor turning in the correct direction? A bad capacitor can cause the fan motor to start in any direction, or to run backwards. I believe the tech did not figure out what was wrong on either call.
    He was probably to busy freezing his butt off.

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