If your heating system automatically switches into cooling mode during the winter and frost has built up on your condenser outside, you might understandably think that your system is doomed. However, when your HVAC system operates with a heat pump, these are actually normal operational procedures. Cool air blowing out of your vents naturally sounds like a major malfunction, but heat pumps utilize different processes to heat your home. Luckily, your local HVAC contractors in Sioux Falls, SD are here to provide a little more clarity on why a heat pump blowing cool air through your vents is not a cause for immediate panic.
Understanding the basics
During the summer months, a heat pump cools the inside of your house by removing the warm air in your home and returning it to the outdoors. The process is similar for heating your home as well, as the heat pump works in reverse and takes the warmth from the air outside, and through energy transfer turns it into warm air for the inside of your home. In order to do this efficiently, two major processes have to happen.
Heat pump processes
The first step is the removal of the frost and condensation buildup that accumulates on your outdoor heating coil, also known as the condenser, so that it can be recycled for use in the system and transferred into warm air. This is known as the defrost cycle, which your system will automatically do to make sure the condenser remains clear and air is able to flow freely across the coil.
During this cycle, the fan shuts off, and your system switches over to cooling mode, which actually heats the coil. Even though the fan is off during this process, it is possible that you might feel cool air coming out of your vents while this defrost cycle is taking place. If you hear a loud noise before you feel this cool air blowing out, you are hearing the reversing valve triggering your system to go into cooling mode so that the refrigerant in the condenser can be heated.
As the frost melts and turns into water, it falls to the bottom of the heat pump, where it is stored until the fan turns back on and your system returns to heating mode, which is the second process that occurs before heat is delivered to your home. This water is then pushed through the system and, along with the refrigerant in the expansion valve, prompts the heat exchange that is used to once again heat your home.
It is not uncommon for homeowners to be unsure whether their homes operate with a heat pump or a central system, as both outdoor units often look alike while also carrying out similar functions. Here at A & R Heating & Air Conditioning Inc., our focus is on all things heating and cooling, and if you need HVAC contractors in Sioux Falls, SD to help determine what kind of system you have and make sure it stays in optimal condition year-round, give us a call right away.