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How the Reversing Valve Works in Your Heat Pump

Have you ever wondered how your heat pump can offer both heating and cooling? It’s because of a special component called a reversing valve. This valve is a bit complex, which is why, should a problem develop with it, it’s best to hire a professional for repair. Without the reversing valve, your heat pump wouldn’t be able to heat and cool. So how does this component work? Let’s take a look.

Two States: Excited and Relaxed

The reversing valve is a cylindrical metal tube that has 4 valves; there is a slide inside the tube that moves back and forth when your heat pump changes modes. A small electronic component called a solenoid sits on top, and helps the valve slide back and forth as needed. Every valve has two states: excited and relaxed. The manufacturers decide which state matches which mode; for example, Manufacturer A may make the excited state the cooling mode for their reversing valve, while Manufacturer B makes relaxed the cooling mode. These assignments are permanent, so once they are made for a particular valve, they will stay that way for the life of the valve.

As the homeowner, all you have to do to change modes is press a button on your dual-mode thermostat. When the cue comes from the thermostat to change modes, the solenoid activates and starts to slide the valve in the direction opposite of where it is. As the valve change direction, so does the flow of the refrigerant; this directional change of the refrigerant is what physically changes the modes. But it is the reversing valve that allows for this change to happen.

Common Problems with Reversing Valve

Like other components, the reversing valve can develop some problems. The most common one is a “stuck” valve. Reversing valves can become stuck in a specific mode (i.e., heating or cooling) or in-between modes. A second problem that can develop with reversing valves are refrigerant leaks. Unfortunately, refrigerant leaks can’t be repaired when they are inside a reversing valve, so the valve needs to be replaced.

If your system is having trouble switching modes, there is a good chance something is wrong with the reversing valve. If you are experiencing this kind of trouble with your heat pump in your home in Whitehall, call Boehmer Heating & Cooling today and schedule an appointment for our professional heat pump service.

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