Inspecting heat pumps: a little advice please

In Colorado heat pumps are rare so I don’t know a lot about them and I don’t seem to find a lot about their inspection online, so the InterNACHI Library has a total of only about 10 comments covering heat pumps.
I’d like to provide more detailed narratives both as a service to those inspecting them and as a teaching tool to newer inspectors. Any suggestions?

Kenton - For WA, If installed with one, typically the heat pump will be a primary heat source and I walk people through the thermostat function of the differences of what they are calling for with Heat vs. Emergency Heat and then Cooling. I will test the heat pump only, and then crank it up to see if the furnace will kick on with a larger temperature swing on it’s own or if it will only kick on when switched to emergency heat, and then make sure they understand the difference of how they have the thermostat set if needed or automatic. I think it is an important fact to know that the Heat Pump is primary and then it may be a bit slower than the secondary heat source (Furnace or zone controlled wall heat etc.) but it will also be more efficient in the long run, even though the furnace blower fan will run longer to distribute the heat. I also explain to them that the heat pump will work through their ducts if connected that way, and the filter is still an important piece of equipment. For me, the explanation of the system and it’s design is the key to their understanding of it’s operation. I also discuss the air handler and a condensate drain or pump and the expectation of seeing condensate on the days of running the Cool Setting.

Almost all down here are heat pumps.

1 Like

Do/should heat pumps ever run when “emergency heat” is operating (at the same time)? TIA.

The one That I had for 8 years said to wait 3-4 minutes between changing from regular to 'emergency heat"…Yours may me different of they may have improved them. IDK

Em heat is usually the strip heat inside your AHU. Has nothing to do with the condenser.


My emergency heat was a commercial water heater backing up a ground water heat pump.

1 Like

For systems that have an emergency heat strip in the AHU and a Heat Pump, aka “Reversing Valve” in the Condensing Unit, the Heat strip can and will activate to support the Heat Pump. As Jordan mentioned, I check for the same; systems each work independently. When checking the condensing unit for cooling or heating it is a good idea to make sure that the fan is rotating in the proper phase. I have, on rare occasion, found them spinning in reverse; pulling air down into the coil instead of up and out. This is not correct and needs to be called out. “Condensing Unit fan observed operating in reverse phase, (spinning backwards).”

Guess your talking 3 phase condenser, home condensers are single phase.

Heat pump.
Types: (Air source) (Water source) (Ground source) Central) (Ductless Mini-Split) (Package unit) (Independent unit)
Manufacturer. (Amana) (American Standard) Carrier)
Compressor type:
(Electric) (Gas) (Reciprocating) (Inverter) (Scroll) (Screw)

Observation: Air source heat pump.
Secured to the base.
Poor clearance.
Light compressor cabinet corrion.
Dirty cooling fins.
Excess noise or vibration.

Hope that helps.

No, single phase, but running backwards. I have only seen it happen twice, both times it was a Bryant. One of these times it was mine… lol

Kenton, hope this post finds you well.
What particular narratives are you looking for.
What Is A Heat Pump: ‘A heat pump is a device that transfers energy in the form of heat from a source of heat energy to what is called a Thermal Reservoir under the second law of Thermodynamics.
Heat pumps convey thermal energy in the opposite direction of spontaneous heat transfer through heat absorption from a cold space releasing the energy to a warmer transfer point.’ Please excuse the narrative facsimile. I derived the narrative, What Is A Heat Pump, from articles and interjected precise and operational dynamics.
Observations? Cabinet and Physical dynamics of observable parts? Manufacturer. MN/Model Number, SN/Serial Number. Capacity/electrical. Disconnect. BTU, Refrigerant. Stability. Clearance.
Types? Posted above.

Looking forward to your reply.

That’s crazy, motor must be opposite hand.

No, it is not opposite hand. It literally reversed its phase and began spinning in the wrong direction. I would never have believed this possible if it had not happened to my own unit. Even the tech that came to repair it could not explain this very well. He said that this sometimes happens. I noticed my system was not cooling well and running constantly. When I went out to look at the unit I notices that air was being drawn down into the unit and forced out through the coil. I was flabbergasted. A few years later I noticed this happening during and inspection. Oddly enough, it was also a Bryant. I always check that the fan is spinning in a direction that causes air to be drawn through outside of the coil and forced up through the fan. I do understand that some fan blades are reverse pitched, so the fan spins in a different direction. This is fine, as long as the direction it spins in forces air up and not down. Yes, it is totally crazy, but it really does happen. That is why I am offering this to you all. Kenton’s request sparked my memory of this strange anomaly.

1 Like