Apologies if you have answered this a 1000 times.
--I live in NC.
--I have two 30 yr old heat pumps.
--I keep at 80 or higher in summer, 62-68 in winter. My summer bills are traditionally lower, even this yr with over 90 days when temps went over 100 degrees.
--For the last mo, it's been cold enough to want heat but not cold enough to freeze my annuals, or for properly-working heat pumps to kick into auxillary upon starting.
--They worked fine on AC right up through Sept. (then didn't need ac or heat for awhile)
--It seems heat strips come one INSTEAD of regular heat, for both units. (I can tell by what's coming out the registers--I've been in house 22 years so I know)
--Heat strips seem to come on EVERY time the heat comes on, even if it's 60 outside and set the temp inside at 62.
--I can hear fans on outside unit running when this happens.
--It does not run continuously, only when temp inside starts to drop.
--The blue lights on t-stat does NOT comes on. However, they do work--they will light up if I set t-stat at 80+
--Fact that it works well on AC seems to indicate it is not a leak issue.
--No problems for 10 years or more
--In 2005, I had a job away from home, came home to find something on circuit breaker under house near air handler had melted. Repair guy No. 1 fixed it.
--He also replaced the downstairs thermostat. NOTE--this might be important--the new t-stat had one less wire than old one. That might have to do with auxillary? Since then, the temp it reads is completely off--it will say it's 60 when every thermometer says 65, etc. So we just adjust heat settings accordingly. Upstairs t-stat was not changed and seems to work more or less normally.
--It then cooled better. Later found it didn't work well on heat (heat strips coming on). Later figured out upstairs unit ran constantly on ac, heat strips on heat.
--Repair guy No 2 said lower unit had leak, put in freon (more than unit holds--I found the tag later). It seemed to work better but as it was spring, couldn't really tell. He said upstairs unit had a problem in attic but refused to go in attic to look.
--Repair guy No 3 found leak on upstairs unit right at outside unit, fixed, added very small amount of freon. Still ran constantly.
--Repair guy No 4--ME and friend--found relay/contactor on upstairs unit was clearly bad, replaced.
--Both units then ran well on ac all summer.
--Now neither are working properly in heat mode
I work for nonprofits, my total income this past year was about $7k and $400 of it has already gone to heat pump repairs (another big chunk to electric bills), so I want to see what I can do myself, or at least use a repair person's time more efficiently.
The repairmen seem to come look for the quickest, most obvious thing, fix that, and leave. I feel it must be partly my own fault for not asking the right questions are demanding a guarantee that it will work properly or they come back and fix without another service call fee. I want to be a better consumer but also fix things myself if I can.
So can you all help me figure this out? Thanks!!!!!