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Why Does Our Heat Pump Blow Cold Air in the Winter?

2014 Jan 16
Posted in: Heating

Arizona doesn’t get cold very often. But when it does, your heat pump blowing cold air is the last thing you need.

So what’s the deal?

There are two possibilities:

  1. Your heat pump is actually blowing cold air.
  2. You just THINK your heat pump is blowing “cold” air.

Let’s explore the second possibility first to explain what we mean.

Your body is tricking you

OK, we’re not calling you crazy, but hear us out. Heat pumps don’t heat the air nearly as hot as gas furnaces do. Furnaces put out heated air at around 130-140 degrees.

But a heat pump, when it’s cold outside, puts out air around 90 degrees. And the colder it gets outside, the lower the temperature it puts out because the heat pump has to work harder to extract heat from the outside air.

Learn how a heat pump works.

Your body’s average temperature is around 98 degrees, so that 90 degrees feels “cold” to your body. But it’s still warmer than your home’s air. So it’s still heating your home. It just takes longer to do it.

To find out if your heat pump is actually blowing cold air, hold an accurate thermometer up to the supply and return vents. If there is no difference in the temperature, you’ve got a problem.

Reasons your heat pump is actually blowing cold air 

If your heat pump is blowing cold air, common possible causes include :

  • Low refrigerant charge (Signs this is the problem: the outside unit is covered in ice and there’s a refrigerant leak.)
  • Problems with the reversing valve (the mechanical valve that allows the heat pump to pull heat from the air)
  • Refrigerant flow problem
  • Thermostat accidentally set on “cool” mode. (It’s ok, we all make mistakes.)
  • Problems with the outside unit’s compressor


1) Don’t call for service from a professional until you test your heat pump’s supply and return air with a thermometer.

2) If your heat pump is blowing cold air, call and schedule a professional to visit your home and fix your heat pump.

Did you find this article helpful? Check out our other blog posts for money-saving tips and helpful how-tos about heating and cooling.
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