The Importance of a Reversing Valve in a Heat Pump System

There are other ways to heat your home during the winter besides using a furnace. You can use a heat pump. Heat pumps are common in the Southeast. With the region’s mild winters, a heat pump offers an energy-efficient but effective way to warm your home. Best of all, it can cool your home during the summer by working in reverse. With a heat pump system, though, you’ll need to ensure it has a functional reversing valve.

What Is a Reversing Valve?

A reversing valve is a regulator device that’s designed to control the direction of refrigerant. It essentially allows a heat pump to perform both heating and cooling processes. The reversing valve in a heat pump system will change the direction of the refrigerant so that it either warms or cools your home, depending on the thermostat settings.

Both conventional heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) systems – those that contain a furnace and an air conditioning system – as well as heat pumps contain refrigerant. Refrigerant is a chemical that absorbs heat from the surrounding air in one place so that the heat can be transported to another place. Heat pump systems are different, however, in the sense that refrigerant can travel in different directions.

Why Your Heat Pump System Needs a Reversing Valve

Your heat pump system won’t work without a reversing valve. It may warm your home, or it may cool your home. Nonetheless, your heat pump system won’t perform both heating and cooling processes unless it has a functional reversing valve.

The reversing valve is what allows your heat pump system to alternate between an air conditioner and a heating system. To warm your home, refrigerant must travel from the outdoor coil of your heat pump system where it absorbs heat to the indoor coil of your heat pump system where it releases the heat. To cool your home, refrigerant must travel in a reversed direction: It will travel from the indoor coil where it absorbs heat to the outdoor coil where it releases the heat.

Your heat pump system relies on a reversing valve to change between these two modes. If the reversing valve gets “stuck,” it will remain in either the cooling or heating mode. Fortunately, reversing valves are relatively inexpensive and easy to replace. If your heat pump system has a faulty reversing valve, contact a professional HVAC technician to inquire about replacing it.