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What Is the Reversing Valve in a Heat Pump?


Whenever we describe the operation of a heat pump to our curious customers at Ierna’s Heating & Cooling, we always start by emphasizing the similarity between a heat pump and a stand-alone air conditioner. Because a heat pump essentially is an air conditioner. Air conditioners cool homes by moving heat from inside and transferring it outside. This process is called heat exchange. A heat pump operates from the same principle and mostly the same mechanisms: it moves heat from one place and puts it in another. However, a heat pump can change the direction of heat exchange, so that during cold weather, it moves heat from the outdoors and puts in inside your home. This is why a heat pump in Lutz, FL is such a fantastic option for your home comfort: you get a heater and an air conditioner in a single unit.

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However, we have to emphasize the “mostly” part when we say that a heat pump uses “mostly the same mechanisms” as an AC. A heat pump has a few extra parts that allow it to reverse the direction of heat exchange. It needs another expansion valve, and it needs a reversing valve.

The reversing valve

In a heat pump, a reversing valve controls the direction of the flow of refrigerant. Refrigerant is the chemical mixture that allows for the heat exchange to occur. If the refrigerant flows in a different direction, it causes a switch in the function of the indoor and outdoor coils, and this changes whether heat leaves or enters your house.

The reversing valve sits on the refrigerant line, and has two states: energized or relaxed. When a current is applied to the reversing valve in the relaxed state, it becomes energized and switches the flow of refrigerant. Whether the energized state produces heating or cooling is something the manufacturer sets and isn’t shouldn’t concern the consumer.

In fact, consumers shouldn’t concern themselves with the reversing valve at all: if it fails, only an expert technician can replace it. If your heat pump has lost the ability to do half of its job, then the problem may involve the reversing valve or another malfunctioning component—and you’ll need an HVAC specialist like those at Ierna’s Heating & Cooling to figure out which and make the proper repairs and adjustments.

Heat pumps are superb ways to get comfort in Florida weather. You don’t want your heat pump in Lutz, FL to fail at one of its tasks, whether it’s cooling or heating. Contact Ierna’s Heating & Cooling when you detect trouble with your heat pump, and whether it’s a faulty reversing valve or another problem, we’ll fix it for you so you enjoy year-round comfort.