Tech Tip: Defrosting During The Cold & Understanding The Defrost Cycle

In the depth of winter, the weather outside is frightful and the heat pump is “chugging” away to keep the inside delightful. Without our trusty defrost cycle in these conditions our heat pump would quickly begin to look like Frosty the Snowman…minus the jolly part. There’s nothing jolly about a broken heat pump.

The defrost cycle is what allows for our heat pumps to continue efficient heating operation in cold weather. However, the actual operation of the defrost cycle is often not understood as well as desired. This leads to improper settings as well as misdiagnosis. Let’s dig into the basic concept of a heat pump operating in heat and the defrost cycle that protects it.
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Chasing SEER – Right Off A Cliff

With each season’s change, it can take a little time for technicians to adjust. It seems every summer we forget all about how heating systems work and every winter we purge the concept of the cooling cycle from our consciousness. Therefore, the first few weeks become an adjustment period where it requires extra focus to remember the fundamentals of gas pressure, temperature rise, sequence of operation, flame rectification, etc.

Recently, I have spoken with quite a few technicians and company owners on the topic of furnace short cycling.

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Three Reasons for Heat Sequencer Failure

mage from http://www.ncwhomeinspections.com/Electric+Furnace+Inspection
Image from http://www.ncwhomeinspections.com/Electric+Furnace+Inspection

As cold weather approaches and heating season enters, HVAC professionals might see an increase in service calls from customers who say that their heat has stopped working or won’t turn on. One of the most common problems identified is heat sequencer failure.

Several issues can contribute to the failure of this part:

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Most forget this crucial area when doing heating equipment check-ups. Are you?

Temp Rise

As the summer heat slowly begins to fade, the cool breeze of fall will meander into the area. Many of us will begin to shift our focus to heating equipment check-ups. These can be a bit monotonous in the early days of fall, but the most important time to check a heating system is before it endures regular run time through the winter.

A crucial area that is often overlooked on a gas furnace is the temperature rise. The temperature rise across a gas furnace is like ensuring that your vehicle has plenty of coolant in the radiator. Furnaces, much like engines, do not like to run hot!
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