DIY Heat Pump Repair: Troubleshooting a Broken Heat Pump

A heat pump works like an air conditioner in reverse, absorbing heat from the outdoor environment and transferring it into the home. Heat pumps can struggle to work efficiently when temperatures dip below freezing. Due to the difficulty in extracting heat from very cold outdoor environments, some heat pump owners need a supplemental heating system to feel comfortable. Most heat pump units are equipped with electric heat strips that can be used when outside temps are extremely cold. This is known as emergency or auxiliary heat. Some units will automatically switch over, but some may require you to manually switch via your thermostat. Check out these expert tips for how to troubleshoot a broken heat pump:


If your outdoor condensing unit is iced up, airflow will be severely restricted. The most common solution to a frozen heat pump is running the defrost cycle. It normally turns on automatically at timed intervals or when the unit detects frost, however, some systems have a defrost option. The defrost cycle basically reverses the heat pump into air conditioning mode so that it can pump heat to the outdoor unit until it unfreezes. The defrost cycle only runs for around 10-15 minutes.

If the defrost cycle isn’t thawing your iced over heat pump, try these steps:

1. Check the air filter and replace if needed.

2. Make sure there is no debris near the outdoor unit that may be preventing airflow. Always maintain a minimum 2-foot clearance around the unit.

3. If there is no air flowing from your vents, you may have a malfunctioning blower motor. Try setting the thermostat to “fan” to see if the blower motor or some related component is at fault. If the indoor blower is working, the outdoor condensing fan motor may be the problem. Make sure your heat pump is on and then check the outdoor condenser unit—the fan should kick on.

If the solutions above do not work, prevent any further damage to your unit by contacting a professional right away.


Make sure all of your vents are open to allow proper air movement. It’s never a good idea to close vents and registers in the home to try and keep the heat in one area of the home. This “manual zoning” solution can create unwanted pressure within the system and cause duct leaks, system failure, and other problems. If you are feeling cold air blowing from the vents, the heat pump could be in defrost mode. This is normal if you don’t have a supplemental heating system, such as heat strips. Defrost cycles normally last around 10-15 minutes and then the heat will kick back on.


1. The outdoor unit is not running at all.

2. The thermostat isn’t working properly.

3. Ice/frost remains on the unit for over half a day.

4. Annual routine heat pump maintenance has not been performed on your unit within the last year. Even if you have a newer system, and especially if you have a system still under the manufacturer's warranty, you should consider opting for an annual maintenance plan.


Turn to Beco Air and Heat for all your heating services in the Greater Fort Worth area. Our NATE-certified technicians are highly skilled and ready to repair any make or model of heater. For situations that need to be addressed immediately, we offer 24/7 emergency availability. Contact us at or call 817-921-3724.

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