Is Your Heat Pump's Reversal Valve Broken?

Posted on: 25 July 2023

Heat pumps are pretty amazing HVAC appliances. In the summer, a heat pump works as an air conditioner and cools your home. In the winter, it works as a heater and heats your home. This is made possible by a part called the reversing valve, or the reversal valve. The reversal valve, when flipped, switches the heat pump from heating to cooling mode, or vice versa. Usually, this happens seamlessly. But sometimes, your reversal valve may break. Here's what you need to know about this relatively common heat pump problem.

Signs That Your Reversal Valve Is Broken

If your reversing valve breaks, then your heat pump will not switch from heating to cooling mode, or vice versa. Depending on your system, your thermostat may still show that the heat pump has swapped modes, but the air blowing out will be the wrong temperature. Some heat pumps are a little more high-tech and will detect that the reversing valve is broken. They'll turn off and stop working entirely in response.

How to Handle a Broken Reversal Valve

If you think your heat pump's reversal valve is broken, contact an HVAC contractor near you. These days, most HVAC contractors do work on heat pumps as they've become quite common.

This is not a hard repair for an HVAC contractor to make, but it does require them to partially disassemble your heat pump. They'll locate the damaged valve, remove it, and put a new one into place. This should only take a few hours, at most. A reversing valve is not an expensive part, and an HVAC contractor can often use a generic one to save you a little more money, if needed. If your heat pump is under warranty, this repair will usually be covered.

How can you keep the reversing valve from breaking again?

The best way to protect your new reversing valve is to avoid using it more often than needed. Don't switch your heat pump from heating mode to cooling mode unless needed. Turn it from heating to cooling in the early summer, and from cooling to heating in the fall. Also, schedule annual maintenance appointments with your HVAC technician. This way, they can tighten and lubricate moving parts in your heat pump, which will reduce wear not only on the reversing valve but also on other parts.

While most heat pumps are made with durable reversing valves, these valves can fail from time to time. Make sure you call an HVAC contractor if you think yours has broken and ask about heating repair.