Heat Pump Never Reaches Good Temperature In Cold Weather

image of a homeowner feeling chilly due to heat pump not keeping up during winter

Heat pumps help keep us cool in the summer and warm during the cold season. All you need to do is adjust the thermostat to the right settings, and you will soon feel a difference. This system will do all it can to ensure you are as comfortable as possible. However, it does have flaws and problems that should be addressed periodically, like other HVAC systems. Learning these circumstances will let homeowners set realistic goals and choose the best solution when it comes to troubleshooting their heat pump. Read on to learn about a major heat pump issue: a heat pump not keeping up when the temperatures outside are cold.

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Heat Pump Doesn’t Reach A Comfortable Temperature In The Winter

It normally happens. A homeowner will adjust the thermostat to a specified temperature, and the heat pump will try to reach it. The temperature of the air inside your house may remain several degrees below the target regardless of how long the system is working.

Most people aren’t bothered by this gap since it is still sufficiently warm. However, some may not be too happy with failing to find the most suitable match. They may book an appointment with a local HVAC technician. They may be able to find a legitimate issue that needs to be repaired. On the other hand, the system is likely functioning normally. Keep in mind that heat pumps generally cannot generate massive amounts of heat in frigid temperatures.

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How A Heat Pump Works

heat pump refrigeration cycleYou can better understand this underlying constraint when you know how heat pumps operate. These multifunctional systems can heat and cool your home. Most cases make it unnecessary to have a separate furnace in the winter and an air conditioner in the summer. A heat pump can control your home’s temperature independently as it can provide cooling and heating throughout the year. This means it is easier to install and maintain. It transmits heat from one side of the device to the other. This thermal transmission happens thanks to a circulating refrigerant and a well-timed pressure adjustment. Each heating cycle gets your home closer to the ideal temperature.

Heat pumps can also cool your home in the summer by having the refrigerant absorb the heat from inside the house. This heat is then released into the atmosphere via the exterior unit. Heat pumps are equipped with fans that blow air across the coils for faster operations. The refrigerant is then depressurized before the cycle repeats. This cycle is reversed during winter as the heat is transported from the inside to the outside of the home. Although it may sound strange because it is cold outside, it is still possible if the temperature doesn’t drop below zero.

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Related Article: Heat Pump Keeps Tripping Breaker


Properly Working Heat Pump Doesn’t Reach A Specific Thermostat Temperature

It is harder to gather heat outdoors as the weather cools. The efficiency of the heat pump plunges when the outside temperature drops below 35 degrees Fahrenheit. The system will have a hard time keeping the house warm once the temperature outside goes below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

This is one reason heat pumps are commonly used in regions with mild winters. Boilers or furnaces are most widely found in homes in colder climates. You can also find homes utilizing a hybrid heating system, wherein a heat pump and gas-fired heater combination are used. Heat pumps are ideal for use in mild weather, while gas-fired heaters are suitable in frigid weather.

You can also try to increase the thermostat temperature to several degrees to get around its restriction. For instance, your current temperature setting may be 71 degrees Fahrenheit, but the temperature inside can’t be over 69 degrees. Increase the temperature to 73-75 degrees to check if there are any improvements in the internal temperature. This is the most practical method to stay warm as it becomes colder. The heat pump still operates but needs some assistance to provide sufficient heat.

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Heat Pump Problems: Other Reasons Your Heat Pump May Not Meet Thermostat Temperatures

Read on to know some common heat pump issues that affect how well your heat pump blows warm air during the winter.

Frozen Outdoor Heat Pump System

frozen heat pump

A frozen outdoor heat pump unit can be why your heat pump isn’t operating well. Ice may form around the unit if the temperature plunges too low. The ice can block the flow of air and keep heat from being absorbed. Heat pumps can usually go into defrost cycles to solve this issue. This should be enough to resolve this common heat pump issue and have your unit go back to normal. Call a professional to help you if the ice won’t melt.

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Malfunctioning Outdoor Heat Pump Unit

Although the outside unit isn’t frozen, it may be malfunctioning because of a faulty component. Therefore, troubleshooting is required. Ensure that the power supply is on if the equipment isn’t responding. Inspect the openings for any clogs. Replace clogged filters to improve your heating operation and indoor air quality. Call an HVAC professional if there are no changes even after doing these steps. Other components, such as the indoor unit or reversing valve, may be experiencing issues causing failure to achieve a properly-functioning heating cycle.

Insufficient Home Insulation

image of a home insulation installation

Poor house insulation may result in your heat pump failing to achieve the correct temperature. The heat pump, despite working hard, cannot keep up with the rate of heat lost via the roof and walls. There may be open windows letting cold air in or air leaks that require caulking and weatherstripping. HVAC professionals can help you find and repair these hidden leaks for better energy efficiency.

Low Refrigerant Levels In The Heat Pump

Insufficient refrigerant in the system means the heat pump will struggle to absorb heat. Contact your local, trusted HVAC technician to find and resolve refrigerant leaks. They will also recharge the refrigerant for you. Check to see what type of heat pump you have so the technician can deliver the right one.

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The Heat Pump Is The Wrong Size

A heat pump that underperforms constantly may be because it is the wrong size. It may be too small for the house, so it cannot generate enough heat. An HVAC technician can do a load calculation. You may need to replace your small heat pump with a larger one.


Faulty Thermostat

A problem with your thermostat may be the reason for failing to reach the set temperatures. The unit may need calibration, have faulty sensors, or have low batteries. The thermostat may be near a heat source, and it can cause distorted sensor readings.

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Old Heat Pump

You may have an aging heat pump that has a lot of wear and tear. It has reduced efficiency, so it struggles to produce sufficient heat for your home. A heat pump’s average lifespan is 12 years. If you have an older model, consider a complete replacement. Have a professional HVAC contractor help you choose the most suitable equipment for your home.



Heat pumps have limited heat delivery capabilities on extremely cold winter days. This is because of how these systems were designed. Therefore, you do not have to be worried that the system may have malfunctioned. Auxiliary heat pump settings or additional sources of heat can keep your home warm until the weather warms up once more. If you aren’t experiencing frigid home temperatures but the heat pump is performing poorly, call an HVAC technician for heat pump maintenance, repairs, or replacement.

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