How to Unstick A Reversing Valve On A Heat Pump 

Heat pumps are great central heating technology, giving homeowners heating in the winter and cooling in the summer. But that only happens when everything is working properly. 

Today, we will shed light on a common problem that heat pump owners might encounter: a stuck reversing valve. This essential component, vital for the proper functioning of your heat pump, can sometimes become jammed, affecting your system’s performance.

If it sounds difficult, don’t worry! We’ve simplified the process for you, breaking it down into easy-to-follow steps to get your heating system up and running again. 

How heat pumps work

If you have a heat pump, this might be a review, but here’s some background on how these work.

They transfer heat – they don’t generate it. Think of it as a heat “mover” or heat exchanger. In the winter, your heat pump takes warmth from the air outside and brings it indoors to keep your home cozy.

Come summertime, the process is reversed. The pump collects the heat from your inside and pushes it outside to cool down your indoor living area. These two processes are largely powered by a little device called the reversing valve —  our topic of focus today. 

What is a reversing valve on a heat pump, and what is it used for? 

The reversing valve controls the direction the refrigerant flows, changing the heat pump from heating to cooling mode and vice versa. 

When you adjust your thermostat, the reversing valve responds. In the heating mode, it sends the refrigerant one way; when you switch to cooling mode, it sends the refrigerant in the opposite direction – or at least it should. Failure to do that means your system will be stuck in either heating or cooling mode.

When it gets stuck, it’s a bit like a traffic jam in your heat pump, and the temperature in your home can start to fluctuate. Don’t worry we’ll go over how to fix it. 

What happens if your reversing valve is stuck or not working properly 

When the reversing valve isn’t functioning correctly, it can lead to several issues that might disrupt the comfortable climate of your home.

When it’s stuck or not working properly, it exhibits several tell-tale signs. Here are some common symptoms you should keep an eye out for:

  • Unusual noises: If your heat pump starts making odd noises, this could be a sign that the reversing valve is struggling to switch the flow of the refrigerant.
  • You can’t switch heating and cooling modes: If your system is stuck in one mode and can’t switch, the valve might be jammed in one position.
  • Temperature inconsistencies: Perhaps the most noticeable symptom is experiencing inconsistent temperatures from room to room. This indicates that the reversing valve isn’t regulating the refrigerant flow properly, disrupting the heating or cooling process.
  • Higher energy bills: A malfunctioning reversing valve might cause your heat pump to overwork itself to maintain the desired temperature, leading to increased energy consumption and, consequently, a spike in your energy bills.

Noticing any of these issues? The next section will guide you through troubleshooting and fixing a stuck reversing valve to get your system back in business.

How to unstick the heat pump valve: DIY troubleshooting steps

While heat pumps are complex HVAC systems, homeowners can attempt some basic troubleshooting to resolve common problems like a stuck reversing valve. 

Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Use a magnet to activate the valve: Try activating the valve with a magnet. Place a strong magnet near the valve. If the valve is functioning correctly, you should hear a click indicating that the valve’s solenoid is energized and moving.
  2. Gently tap it: If the magnet doesn’t work, you can attempt to unstick the valve by applying a gentle tap. Use a rigid but soft object, like the handle of a screwdriver, to tap lightly on the body of the valve. This can sometimes free the valve and restore its operation.

Remember, these steps are safe to try at home. However, if you feel uncomfortable performing these actions or if they don’t resolve the issue, it is time to call a professional.

When to call a professional technician 

If your efforts to unstick the valve have been unsuccessful, or if you’re not comfortable attempting these steps, for your safety, it might be a job best left to the professionals. 

Need a team? Call Anderson Air. With over 50 years of experience servicing the northwest Arkansas area, our team has the experience, knowledge, and specialized tools to repair heat pump problems effectively and safely. 

With experience in heating, cooling, ventilation and air purification, we make sure our customers are well taken care of. Our trusted professionals can also take a look at your entire system to ensure everything is working correctly. Contact our office today. 

Prevention tips: How to keep your system working 

Keeping your heat pump well-maintained can go a long way toward preventing reversing valve problems. Maintaining your system keeps it working well and prolongs your unit’s lifespan. 

Here are a few ways to keep your reversing valve in working condition: 

  • Regular inspection: Regularly inspect your heat pump system or get it inspected by a technician. Look for signs of wear, rust, or damaged parts. If you notice anything unusual, call a professional technician for a more detailed inspection.
  • Routine cleaning: Over time, dust and debris can build up in your heat pump system (coils, tubes and other equipment), leading to blockages and hindering performance. Regular cleaning is essential to maintain system efficiency and prevent malfunctions. Always ensure the system is switched off before you start cleaning.
  • Scheduled professional servicing: Schedule an appointment at least once annually. A professional technician is like calling tech support. They can perform thorough system checks, identify potential issues before they escalate, clean hard-to-reach areas, and provide advice on maintaining system efficiency.
  • Proper system operation: Use your system as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Incorrect usage can strain the heat pump system and lead to problems like a stuck reversing valve.

Remember, prevention is always better than cure. By following these tips, you can keep your reversing valve working efficiently, maintain a comfortable home environment, and avoid unexpected increases in energy bills.

Anderson Air – Quality, reliable service at an affordable cost

Reversing valve issues can cause significant disruption to your heat pump’s performance, but identifying the problem early and acting quickly can effectively mitigate the impact. If your system is giving you trouble, contact a pro to get it checked out. Life is complex enough without having to worry about your home comfort. 

If you live in Springdale, Arkansas and need assistance, reach out to our office to book an appointment. We’re here to help you stay comfortable in your home and have peace of mind no matter the weather. For the best HVAC care in the city, book an appointment today

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