4 Signs Of Heat Pump Problems (And What They Mean)Heat pumps are an excellent way to keep your home comfortable and your expenses down — when they’re working the way they should, of course. 

Like any piece of machinery, heat pumps can develop problems or stop working as well or as efficiently as they used to. The good news is that most of these problems are simple fixes, especially if you catch them early. 

Then, it doesn’t take much work at all to get them back to peak performance. 

So, in this article, we’ll help you catch those early warning signs of problems. This way, not only will repairs cost less, but you also won’t go a while with your home not staying as warm or as cool as you’d like it. 

If you recognize any of these problems in your Boise Metro or Valley County home, call or email us here at Snowflake Air today! As Mitsubishi Diamond Elite Dealers, we’re bona fide experts when it comes to mini splits and heat pumps in general.

Four Signs Something’s Wrong With Your Heat Pump

  1. Weird Noises 
  2. Hot And Cold Spots
  3. Electric Bill Suddenly Goes Up
  4. Strange Smells

Weird Noises 

Four weird noises to watch for from a heat pump are: 

  1. Grinding
  2. Gurgling
  3. Buzzing
  4. Clanging


Grinding indicates a mechanical problem. Most likely, it’s dirty motor bearings. If you’ve just noticed this, it may not be an emergency yet. But, you should call your HVAC contractor right away. You don’t want the problem getting any worse. 


A gurgling sound means your system needs a recharge on refrigerant. But remember that the coolant runs in a closed loop all the time. Meaning you’re not supposed to run out. 

If it’s running low, there’s a leak or other problem somewhere.


Buzzing on an air handler, or indoor unit, usually also means a refrigerant leak. It’s more of a threat inside because the refrigerant can be harmful. 


If you hear clanging or banging from your outdoor unit, shut off the system. The fan is hitting against another metal piece and causing a racket. You want to stop this before something cracks. 

Hot And Cold Spots

Are parts of the house suddenly getting chilly in the winter (or warm in the summer)? If so, your system’s not working right. That’s especially so if you have a mini split with an Inverter or variable-speed heat pump. 

These models run almost continuously to maintain a steady temperature all the time. If you’re noticing temperature swings, it’s having trouble keeping up with demand.

Electric Bill Suddenly Goes Up

Even if your system is working fine, a sudden rise in your electric bill is cause for concern. After all, one of the significant benefits of a heat pump is energy efficiency

When that’s not happening, you know something’s wrong. 

You’ll often notice this along with other problems: Maybe weird sounds or smells, or your home not feeling as comfortable. Whatever’s happening, it’s causing your heat pump to use way more energy than usual to keep going.

Strange Smells

Three strange smells to watch for from a heat pump or mini split are:

  1. Dirty Socks
  2. Fish
  3. Vinegar

Any of these odors means you should call a professional. But, while you’re waiting, here are some clues as to what the problem might be. 

Dirty Socks

Call it stale, call it cheesy, call it similar to an old gym bag: This odor is typical enough to have its own name: Dirty Sock Syndrome. 

It’s a sign of mold or mildew buildup somewhere in the system. It’s most likely in your air handlers if you have a mini split with multiple indoor units. We’ll talk about this more in a little while. 


A fishy smell is often a mechanical issue and sometimes related to overheating. It may be a wiring problem. Or, you’re smelling an overheated motor. Or parts that are starting to melt. 


A weird, vinegar-like odor from a heat pump or air handler means there’s an electrical issue somewhere in the system. 

Why It’s Important To Have Your Mini Split Cleaned Regularly

Cleaning The Ductless Unit Is ImportantDirty Sock Syndrome, rising electric bills, and hot and cold spots can have a single, easily treatable, problem: Mold. 

We’re sorry to say that mold and other organic buildup inside mini splits is very common. Even if you clean the filters every month, microbes, mold spores, and other nasty stuff can take root inside the component. 

And, it’s deeper than you can reach without damaging something. 

If you’ve noticed these problems along with indoor air quality issues or respiratory issues, then mold in your min split is probably the culprit. But, as we said, the fix is easy. 

You need a mini split deep cleaning. It’s a process that only takes about an hour, and afterward, you’ll be amazed at how much better your system will work overall. 

Here in the Boise Metro and Valley County area, we’ve partnered with Hydrokleen for expert cleanings. These go deeper than anything you can do yourself and are more in-depth than what you’d get from a regular maintenance call. 

If you’ve had your mini split for more than a year, call us or Hydrokleen directly for a cleaning. The tech will show you what’s inside the system to see the difference even before you feel it. 

Click Here: Ductless Mini Split Cleaning From Snowflake

Heat Pump Repair In McCall, ID

Call Snowflake Air at (208) 205-9078 for heat pump repairs in McCall, ID, or anywhere in Valley County or the Boise Metro Area. We focus on heat pumps and other high-efficiency HVAC equipment. And, with dozens of five-star reviews and certifications from major manufacturers, we’re the name to trust. Call or click below to set an appointment.