My Heater is Running: Why Does the Outside AC Unit Run Too?

When you move into a new home, the heating and cooling system is a critical component to the sale or rental. Living in southwest Florida means that you'll be warm in the summer with a few cold snaps in the winter. In most cases, you'll run this system throughout the year. Turning on the heater for the first time, however, may be met with some confusion. The heat is on, but the exterior unit is running too. Clear up this confusion with some tips from Midpoint Cooling and Heating, a great AC repair firm.

Understanding Split Systems

Many homes in Florida have a split system that consists of a furnace and air-conditioning unit. You'll find the furnace and part of the AC unit in a closet, garage or other interior area. Ducts connect to this system in order to move the conditioned air across all of the rooms. The exterior unit is normally dedicated to heat-transfer operations by the AC system. A large fan connected to the condenser allows heat to be moved from the refrigerant as the AC system tries to cool the home during the summer. The heating system is largely isolated to the interior.

The Furnace Function

When you have a standard furnace, the outside AC unit shouldn't run at all. The interior system works with a few steps designed into it. As you activate the heater, a pilot light or electrical-heating element turns on. You might hear humming noises as the system heats up. When the proper temperature is reached, the heater's blower activates and forces warm air into the rooms. The outside components are simply deactivated as the heating steps occur at the furnace level.

Improper Mode Activation

With this information in mind, you may still wonder why the outside AC unit is operating during the heating process. The activation may simply be a mistake because of the wrong mode being accessed. Take a look at the control panel connected to the split system. In many cases, the switch that activates the heating or cooling has a dual purpose. It could be in the wrong mode, which forces the AC to work instead of the furnace. Verify that the heating mode is activated, and the outside unit should immediately stop working.

Possible Heat-Pump Installation

A more complex answer to your outside-unit activation is confusion over the system's type. You may not have a furnace at all. Many Florida homes are turning to heat-pump installations because of their efficient heating and cooling operations. The outside unit may be a heat pump that's supposed to work during both cooling and heating periods. When you activate a heat pump, it draws on any warmth found outside and forces it into the system. The air is further warmed by the interior heater and distributed to the rooms. In contrast, the air-conditioning mode will operate in the exact opposite direction. In the end, the outside unit will always work when the system is powered on.

Learning the Facts

Contacting a professional about your system is crucial to your familiarity and comfort with it. Professional consultations can include descriptions of every component along with possible issues to look out for as the seasons change. Familiarizing yourself with the system will only prolong its lifespan. Professionals suggest that any items should be kept away from the interior and exterior components, such as stacked boxes or chairs. By learning the facts about your type of system, you'll know what is considered normal or unusual.

Maintaining the System

Because you'll use any heating and cooling system during each season, technicians should inspect it several times a year. They'll maintain the system with consistent filter replacements and basic adjustments. Allowing the system to break down will only cost the consumer more in the long run. Keep the components clean and free from any obstructions so that the air can flow freely between the exterior and interior areas.

Whether you need a tune-up or complete installation, Midpoint Cooling and Heating is ready to serve your needs. Give us a call at 239-561-6689. Our office staff can answer your questions and send out a technician whenever necessary. Maintaining your heating and cooling system reflects our dedication to this region with many years of experience under our belts.

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