A basic heat pump system consists of an appliance that utilises electricity or some other power source to move cold air to warmer places or warm air to cooler places. In order to work properly, the heat pump system must contain a refrigerant, or chemical that can absorb and transport heat. In many heat pump systems, Freon is the main refrigerant used. Although it's best to have an HVAC professional refill Freon levels in a heat pump, you can pay attention to certain symptoms that may be signs that Freon levels should be checked.
A compressor that runs too often, or works longer every time that it becomes initiated by the heat pump system, is a clear symptom of low Freon levels. When Freon levels have dipped inside the evaporator coil, the compressor needs to work harder to achieve the same heating effect. Compare the compressor run times of your heat pump system versus a similar system in better condition, or compare against the running time of your compressor when the system was in better working order, if you happen to know those times.
Low Freon in a heat pump system will reduce the ability of the heat pump to regulate the temperature of the evaporator coil. As a result, condensation from the heat pump can form on the evaporator coil and will freeze over in lower temperatures. Check the owner's manual of your heat pump in order to learn the location of the evaporator coil as well as any procedures related to inspecting the evaporator coil.
High Utility Bills
Although not directly related to low Freon levels, increased costs on your utility bills may indicate a problem with your heat pump system. Low Freon will cause the compressor and the entire heat pump system to work harder, increasing energy use and either your gas or electricity costs.
Many of the symptoms associated with low Freon levels, including lower compressor efficiency or a frozen evaporator coil, will contribute to improper heating from your heat pump. Check the thermostat found on your heat pump system and compare that to the actual temperature of the area being conditioned by the heat pump. Low Freon levels can contribute to slower than normal heating or temperature levels that never reach the desired output found on the thermostat.