I recently had a breaker to my outside unit trip (a Trane XL1400 heat pump, just turned 10 yrs old) and figured it was a blown compressor. The service guy came out and luckily it was just a shorted heating element that sits at the bottom of the can. He explained this is always "on", which explains why the breaker would trip when it wasn't even calling for AC. He said it wasn't really necessary and just removed the connections to the heating element and all is working fine again.
I assume the element is in place to keep the oil in the compressor fluid when it's cold outside. Or some other purpose? My question is... should I have this element replaced anyway? What's the downside to "not" having it? Could I have harder starts or lessen the life of the compressor without this? I'm in the mid-atlantic area... not real harsh winters but do get down to single digits in the winter.
Thanks in advance!