Learn the basic steps to troubleshoot a Trane Heat pump. Learn the early warning signs of trouble before a small problem becomes a large one.
In response to many of your questions and comments, we have put together this short list of common questions about the proper care and troubleshooting of Trane heat pumps . Although Trane heat pumps are reliably constructed, like any heating/cooling unit they need to be inspected regularly, and routinely serviced, in order to keep them working at peak efficiency.
“I’m a homeowner with an installed heat pump — I have a lot of specialized tools at home — I think that I can handle simple repairs on my heat pump. Do you think that I should try?”
I think that to ask the question is to answer it — for most people, even those who are “handy,” attempting to service your Trane heat pump brings with it certain risks: risks of damaging the equipment (and perhaps even voiding your manufacturers warranty) as well as a possible risk of personal injury (such as a serious electrical shock). Unless you are a properly trained professional, you should resist the urge to fix your equipment yourself — limit your involvement to regular inspection and cleaning, in accordance with the directions spelled out in your Trane heat pump owner’s manual.
“We installed a new heat pump last fall, how often should we change/clean the air filter?”
In general, the more your heat pump is operated the more air it will be circulating — and as a consequence the air filter will get dirty that much quicker. During the fall and winter you should certainly inspect your heat pump air filter monthly, and change them every month or even twice a month, depending on how quickly they get dirty. In addition, if you have purchased a Trane heat pump model that allows you to use it as an air conditioner in the summertime, you should also inspect it for a dirty air filter during the these summer months. Remember that a Trane heat pump with a dirty air filter will not work efficiently — it will need to run for a longer period of time, which will obviously increase your operating expense.
For example, the Trane XB13, which is a single-stage heat pump unit, has this to say in their owner’s manual (page 3): “Clean or replace your filter twice a month during seasons when the unit
runs more often. When replacing your filter(s), always use the same size and type that was originally supplied. Filters are available from your dealer. Where disposable filters are used, they
must be replaced every month with the same size as originally supplied.”
“Is it normal for my heat pump to have a great deal of ice buildup?”
Keep in mind that Trane heat pumps are some of the most well constructed and technologically advanced units on the market today — so you should not be unduly alarmed if you see a recurring ice buildup on the coils of your heat pump. Most Trane heat pump models are equipped with a “defrost” cycle — and your unit will reliably detect this ice buildup and switch over to the defrost cycle to melt it. This is a part of their normal functioning. In fact, as the ice melts during the defrost cycle you may notice steam vapor coming from your heat pump — this is a sign that your Trane heat pump is “taking care of business.”
What you need to watch for is a buildup of ice on your coils that never seems to go away. Also, if you listen for, but never hear, your heat pump switching over to the defrost cycle, this could indicate a problem.
One of the Trane heat pump models I really like is the Trane L19i, a 2-stage compressor unit, and one of their most efficient (SEER: up to 17.90, HSPF: up to 8.9), which you can get with their ComfortLink II technology, which “connects all of your key components so your system automatically charges, configures and calibrates for optimal performance through the lifetime of your products.” This means that this model will AUTOMATICALLY adjust its operation to suit current environmental and operational conditions — including the presence of ice on the coils.
“When I looked inside my heat pump recently, I noticed that one of the circuit boards looked like it had a crack in it — is this something I should worry about?”
Trane heat pumps, like all heat pumps, have two types of equipment inside them — electrical components and mechanical components. The mechanical components include various motors and compressors, evaporator coils — basically, these are the parts that move or “do things.” The electrical components are a different matter — this includes the inside electrical wiring, fuses, heating elements and thermostatic controls.
The electrical components of the heat pump can become damaged by the weather, rough handling, improper installation — even attacks from rodents and other “wildlife” that might be able to get inside. Better heat pump units are built properly so that they will not be easily damaged.
One of the advantages of purchasing a Trane heat pump is that they are incredibly well-constructed, using heavy-duty metal and hardware components. For example, the Trane XL15i is a single-stage compressor unit that balances cost and operational efficiency, yet it boasts a heavy-duty Climatuff compressor, a non-corrosive basepan, an almost indestructible metal housing, as well as a ten-year limited warranty on all the internal functional parts. This type of heat pump is far less likely to suffer damage from animal infestation or bad weather than less well-constructed models.
Obviously, if you notice that these (or any other) electrical components have been damaged you should contact your service professional so that they can come out and assess the situation. They have the necessary equipment and experience to test the components and replace them if necessary.
Regardless of model or installation specifics, you should have your Trane heat pump unit inspected (and also serviced, if necessary) by a qualified HVAC professional at least once a year (actually, I would strongly advise two checkups a year – once at the beginning of the heating season, and another at the beginning of the cooling season).
Regularly inspected, cleaned and serviced, your Trane heat pump will give you many, many years of quiet, efficient heating and cooling for your home. How do I know? Because I own one!