How to Troubleshoot Your Pool Heat Pump—And Fix It Fast

Uh, oh. Let me guess: you just went from swimming in the deep end to shaking your head faster than you can say “trichloroethylene.” (That’s chlorine, by the way, which in 2021 is facing a major shortage.)

If you’re here, your heat pump isn’t working properly. And you’re looking to fix it back up ASAP.

Here’s the good news: like all electrical devices, heat pumps can run into their fair share of issues. But most of what causes them to refuse to power on, run cold, or make eerie that-doesn’t-sound-good noises can usually be solved by anyone. Including you! 

The simple steps I’ll outline here don’t require a degree in engineering, and won’t void the warranty of your heat pump. Read on to save yourself waiting that six-hour window for service—and signing the check that’ll follow the visit (yikes).

Now for the bad news—except there is none, unless these methods don’t work for your heat pump and it’s not protected under warranty. (Seriously, always get equipment protected by warranty!)

Ready to get back to swimming in warm waters? I don’t blame you. Let’s get right to it, as soon as we cover some basics as to (1) why you made the right call by getting a pool heat pump in the first place and (2) whether or not you got the best one for you. If you’re back on the market for a heat pump soon (fingers crossed this won’t be you), we’ll get you and your pool set up for success.

Why a Pool Heat Pump is Always a Good Idea

It’s tough to remember the good times when things turn sour. But can you remember why you got a pool heat pump—and why you should always have one? I’m here to help you out.

Any expert will tell you that a pool heat pump is the best way to heat your pool. Here’s why.

The Most Important: More Swimming!

Haters will say I’m reaching for low-hanging fruit (and just like that, I’m craving pineapple). But let’s not forget the reason pool owners everywhere choose to heat their pool: more swimming, longer swimming, and better swimming.

Heating your pool will extend the swim season. This means that depending on where you live, you can open your pool up earlier and close it later. 

If your local temperatures never or rarely hit freezing, you might be able to keep your pool open all year long with a heat pump. (Sorry, Midwesterners.) 

Plus, having a heat pump makes swimming in your pool more enjoyable even during the swim season. There’s nothing like night swimming or taking laps in the morning without your hair standing on end. You might even be able to cancel that gym membership once and for all. 

Save those Sun Rays, Save Your Wallet 

Other heating devices certainly, uh, try. But nothing is as cost-efficient (and just plain efficient) as a pool heat pump. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, there are three ways to heat your pool: gas pool heaters, solar pool heaters, and heat pumps. Unlike the other two, gas pool heaters waste energy (and sky-hike your monthly bill) by producing heat.

Heat pumps, on the other hand, use heat that already exists. Using the ambient air around it, a heat pump pulls in warmth, compresses it, and transfers that heat to your pool water.

The result: your pool water is at optimal temperature for comfortable swimming, and your monthly energy bill is no cause for worry. 

Takes the Trouble Out of Troubleshooting 

Quality pool heat pumps are known to be fairly reliable. But if there are issues, they’re easier to troubleshoot than any other heating type—solar pool heaters involve solar panels on the roof and gas pool heaters involve working with gas, both of which make for a heightened level of danger. 

A pool heat pump is similar to the pool pump itself. The unit itself is accessible, and the steps for troubleshooting are usually non-invasive. Plus, finding a solution is pretty easy to do yourself. 

Always looking to cut operating costs—especially if you get even better perfomance as a result? Try the 1.5 HP Variable Speed Blue Torrent Thunder In-Ground Swimming Pool Pump—it pays itself off in under a year, is eligible for rebates, and also comes with a warranty. As customer Eric D says, “Day one, I fired this pump up and it ran clean and fast.” 

How to Choose the Right Pool Heat Pump for You 

Hopefully you won’t need this information any time soon. But if troubleshooting doesn’t work for your heat pump, and it’s not protected by warranty... well, someone’s got to say it. 

If you do get back on the market for a pool heat pump, you can save yourself a lot of money (and the headache you probably have right now) by getting the right one for you and your pool. 

Ideally, your next heat pump will be powerful, reliable, and worth showing off. I recommend the Energy-Saving ComforTemp Pool Heat Pump. For every dollar you spend, it returns five dollars of heat to your pool water. Long term, those are some mighty savings. And it comes with a warranty, because every piece of equipment for your pool should. 

If you’d rather not take my word for it, do your research (you might find that ComforTemp is still the way to go, especially since it’s the best-priced on the market). 

Some other considerations to keep in mind are pool size and features, which are all-too-often overlooked. 

Try On for Size 

Pop quiz: how many gallons of water does your pool contain? You do know, right? 

Right? 

Well, if you don’t, now is the time to find out. In fact, the sooner the better. 

Knowing your pool size allows you to get the right heating, but it also helps you choose the right equipment, set up the right plumbing, even add the right amount of chemicals to your water.

Once you know your pool size, you can also determine just how long to run your pool pump every day—which affects how long your pool heat pump, filter, and other accessories are running, too. 

So how do you match your pool size to the right pool heat pump? Most heat pumps should tell you how many gallons of water they’re capable of heating up efficiently. For example, if your pool contains 13,000 gallons, this is the pool heat pump for you.

You’ll also notice that heat pump descriptions often use the abbreviation “BTU.” This means British Thermal Unit, and refers to the amount of energy that’s required to increase the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. The more BTUs, the faster your heat pump will work. 

Function in Features 

The engineering of pool heat pumps takes a lot of time and resources to get just right. These devices aren’t inaccessibly complex, but sometimes the genius of design lies in its simplicity. The flip side of this truth is that some pool heat pump manufacturers overlook the extra details that make pumps easy to use.

Whatever heat pump catches your eye should be BT-certified for reliability, include easy programming tools, and come with a self-diagnostic system to automatically solve any issues that might occur. Ideally, its evaporation condenser should be made from a durable metal like titanium, which is also resistant to corrosion. 

One way to ensure your pool is even more comfortable for swimmers is to make the switch over to saltwater, so that your chlorine is operating at the lowest, safest, and most consistent levels possible. Make a smooth transition with the Salt Ways Eco Friendly Salt Chlorine Generator. It’s ultra-reliable and comes with a warranty.

Pool Heat Pump Troubleshooting 101

Alright, down to business. Chances are the first indicator that you had a problem is that your pool hasn’t been as warm as it should be. Maybe your heat pump is making an uh-oh noise, or maybe it doesn’t appear to be powering on at all.

Whatever your warning sign, the steps below cover all the DIY solutions at your disposal. Take a deep breath, and keep reading.

1. Check for Clogs

If you’ve ever needed to troubleshoot your other pool equipment—including your pool pump, filter, return jets, and more—you’ve probably started here. 

It’s the right place to start. 

In this case, you’re going to want to look at the heat pump’s evaporator coil. This part is usually viewable from the exterior of the heat pump through the mesh paneling. When airflow is reduced by a dirty coil, your heat pump won’t be able to work efficiently. 

In no circumstances should you insert tools to try to remove the dirt, leaves, twigs, and other debris that might’ve gotten caught in your evaporator coil. Spraying water should do the trick. 

Oh, and pay attention to your surroundings! If your heater is located in a dusty environment, you’ll need to clean it more often.

If your evaporator coil looks okay, clean your pool filter and make sure your valves are open. Low water flow is a common problem with pool heat pumps. If not enough water is flowing through your heat pump, your pool will take a lot longer to warm up. 

2. Give Your Settings a Second Look 

The possibility of this step depends on your control panel—if it’s advanced and has self-diagnostic features, it’s all the more likely to communicate its issues. One particular error code you might read is or freon pressure, which helps to compress heat in the unit. 

If your freon pressure is too low, it’s an indicator that it’s too cold outside for the heat pump to operate. After all, it needs at least some warmth in the ambient air around it. (Ice might also be an indicator!) The solution in this case is to turn off the heat pump and wait for the weather to warm up before powering it up again. 

If freon pressure is too high, you probably have a low water flow. Again, check for clogs as directed above and you’ll be good to go.

3. How’s that Temp? 

So... you did set the thermostat to the right temperature, right? Double check that the settings are correct, and remember: the number on your thermostat needs to be higher than the actual temperature of the water for the pool heat pump to operate. 

Check your pool water with a thermometer to make sure it’s below the temperature indicated on your heat pump. If everything is in order, you might have to replace the thermostat. That’s an easy and fairly inexpensive fix.

4. Rule Out Leaks

See water in and around the pump? It could be a leak, or it could just be condensation. Thankfully, confirming which is which couldn’t be more straightforward. 

Using a chlorine test strip, test the water around the heat pump. If it detects chlorine in the water, you’ve got a leak. If not, it’s just condensation. Whew. 

But not so fast: even if it is just condensation, chances are your heat pump has a clogged drain. Remove any debris and consider the job done.

5. Back to Basics. Flip that Breaker!

If the issue is that the pool heat pump doesn’t appear to be turning on at all, you’ve probably already thought to reset your breaker. But even if it’s on, it’s possible the breaker has tripped.

Check the breaker box. If it looks good, you might have an issue with wiring. In this case, or if these other steps didn’t do the trick, it might be time to call in a professional. 

And if your heat pump is really kaput—get an even better this time around. (Again, with a warranty!) 

Do you have a variable-speed pool pump yet—and the lower monthly energy bills to show for it? The Blue Torrent 2 HP Variable-Speed Pump is the one to try—it’s ultra-powerful, allows for more thorough circulation, is eligible for rebates, and pays itself off in under a year in energy saved. As customer Dave Schmidt says, “My pool has never looked cleaner. I am pleased with my new pump!” 

Ahhh... Back to the Pool

As all pool owners know, more creature comforts mean more responsibility. It might’ve been tough to discover that your pool heat pump was having a bit of a struggle. But you did the right thing: you took it into your own hands, and did everything you could. Hopefully, you didn’t have to call in a professional at all. 

But in any case, it’s all resolved—and there’s nothing like enjoying the fruits of your labor. And I mean a cracked-open coconut with a straw, right by the water. See you at the pool.

Above ground poolIn-ground poolsPoolPool accessoriesPool maintenancePool pumpPump