Brand New Rheem Heat Pump Outside Fan not Blowing

karao2009February 13, 2012

Hello All,

Here is a problem concerning a brand new 5 Ton Rheem heat pump installation for any information or guidance other knowledgeable readers can provide.

First the facts: I had a 5 Ton Rheem heat pump installed in our home to replace an 18-year old Lennox heat pump (Model HP22-461-2P) of about 3 or 3.5 Ton capacity which ran its course of life. The Air Handler is installed in the Attic and the external unit is outside. I bought the unit brand new and had it installed by a licensed HVAC contractor. The model of Rheem Air Handler Installed inside the Attic is RHPL-HM6024JC. The model of Rheem Heat Pump (External unit) is RPRL-060JEC. They are purchased as a packaged unit from a Rheem wholesaler through the web and I confirmed through Rheem officials that the units are compatible with each other and the seller is licensed to sell them. These are installed by a local contractor with a Honeywell FocusPRO TH6000 series thermostat which he, the contractor supplied on his own as per the agreement we signed.. The heat pump is advertised as 2-stage.

Now, the problem: From the time it is installed on January 26, 2012, the outside fan is not blowing. I asked the contractor about it, and he seemed not sure, but told me not to worry about it and that it will come on when necessary. Then I read a little bit about heat pumps and also recalled that in the case of the earlier heat pump, the outside blower was running much of the time. Toward the end of its life (i.e., just before the installation of the new unit, however, the outside unit had ice formed all over it, and the fan was still struggling to run. A few contractors who came to look at it to give an estimate said that the old unit pretty much ran its life and that it needed to be replaced. One of them said with so much ice outside the heat pump is doing nothing but wasting electricity and disconnected the outside unit from the socket and asked us to put the inside thermostat to emergency heat because that is how we were getting the heat anyhow. This was the condition at the time of the new installation. The new contractor of course, threw out the old outside unit as well as the in-the-attic air handler and and replaced them with the new Rheem units and installed the Honeywell thermostat FocusPRO TH6000.

Since the installation, I kept observing the outside unit and found that it was never running. I contacted the contractor after a couple of days and he said we could test it by turning off the circuit breaker for the outside unit off and wait for 5 minutes and then turn it on to see if it would come. When we did that, the outside unit fan did come on, but within a minute or two after picking up speed, it shut itself off. The home is getting heated, but I am concerned that the unit is running as an electric heater rather than as a heat pump because the outside fan is not running at all. This seems extremely unusual.

I wrote to the supplier and he says the problem is most likely caused by wrong installation or wrong wiring. When I asked the contractor about it, he adamantly maintains that there is Zero Wrong with his wiring, but he does not have an explanation as to why the outside fan is not blowing. I wrote to the supplier again, and he says that in the most unlikely event that something is wrong with any of their components, they will replace them under warranty if I get a written estimate and a confirmation of the problem. My guess is that the contractor made some error in the wiring, perhaps a simple one, but am not sure what it is.

According to the Owner's manual I downloaded, the Rheem heat pump is with serial communicating technology and it consists of Indoor Air handler, Outdoor air conditioning condensing unit/heat pump, and a touchscreen thermostat. The touchscreen thermostat is not supplied along with the heat pump and air handler. I asked the supplier about communicating technology and he responded that they could supply it for about $400 extra. They confirmed that "The heat pump system is definitely equipped with Rheem's Comfort Control System Serial Communicating Technology. Looking at the specs document you can see that the heat pump is equipped with this technology. The air handler you bought RHPLHM6024JC is also Communicating. This system was designed as a matched Communicating system. In order to achieve the benefits of the Communicating system you will need a Rheem 500 series thermostat. The thermostat is not included in in what you purchased. To keep prices low we sell matched split systems and let customers choose their own thermostats."

I would like to know:

a) How we can diagnose the reasons for the outside fan not running

b) Whether the outside fan is supposed to spin when the unit is on Heat and the temperature is cold outside.

c) How we can fix it to ensure that the unit is functioning as a heat pump

d) Is there a way to verify that the cooling system is working when the outside temperature is very low as it is?

e) Whether it is advisable to consider purchasing the thermostat recommended by Rheem have it installed.

Thank you for any info or guidance you can provide. I know that it is heating up the home----but after spending nearly $9000, I am still not sure if it is working as a heat pump or as an electric coil heater.

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You need a qualified Rheem dealer familiar with this high end system to look at all your problems.

You do need the Rheem communicating thermostat to take advantage of all the features of this nice system.

The idea that you went up from a 3-3 1/2 ton system to a five ton raises all kind of issues including correct sizing of system itself as well as a ductwork system that is sized properly both supply and return..

Yes, outside condenser fan should run in normal heating operation.

An experienced and qualified dealer would charge a HP system based on Rheem's charging charts. Dealer should follow up in spring and re-check refrigerant charge especially for AC cooling.

What size is your heat strip?

I would say your installer is not experienced or qualified to help you.

What size is your home?

What is your location?

That would be a good starting point. Have you registered new system for warranty?


    Bookmark   February 13, 2012 at 11:57AM
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Dear IMO, The contractor recommended the 20 KW Heat strip (the max). He also recommended the 5 Ton capacity and said the earlier unit is under-capacity. He added some duct work for the basement which was not included in the earlier heating system. He claimed to have experience in Rheem, but evidently does not seem to have it. Now he is avoiding all my emails and is coming up with one excuse or the other. The home is about 2500 sq feet. I am in Northeast PA. Since I bought the heat pump system via the Web from the Dealer in Florida, there is nothing much he can do. He, however, offered to replace any defective part free of cost. I did register the new products under the warranty. We are in a small town and not many people are familiar with this product.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2012 at 1:28PM
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Just an update on my earlier post. A technician who works with Rheem pumps examined the installation and says that the fan is not coming on due to high pressure in the refrigerant line. He said that this could have been caused due to clogged refrigerant line on account of its not being cleaned well and purged with Nitrogen before charging, too much of the refrigerant or a similar cause. He also suggested that to fix it he would have to start all over again by removing the refrigerant, purging it and refilling it with refrigerant and that it would cost him a good deal of time, so he would rather have the original installer correct his mistake. He also said it would not run in the cooling mode either because of the same reason.

He also indicated that the system is better put on emergency heat because it is anyhow running as an electric heater. By not putting it in emergency heating, he said the thermostat is sending unnecessary signals to the outside unit to run though it is unable to run due to the high pressure fault switch.

If anyone can further throw any light on this problem, I will greatly appreciate it.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2012 at 6:08PM
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It sounds like the installing contractor did not follow the proper procedure in connecting the refrigerant lines. The procedure is not specific to Rheem equipment.

Call back the contractor and have him fix the problem he has created.

I think the 5 ton unit is over sized for your house. You may experience short cycling during the summer. Your duct work may not be sufficient to handle the air flow for the 5 ton unit. This may lead to more problems in the future.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2012 at 7:58PM
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Thank you for your comments. This certainly helps. I will make sure to call the contractor and have him fix the problem with the refrigerant line.

However, I am not sure what I can do about the size of the unit. How can I tell if the cycle is short or long? Is there any way to resolve this problem if it is indeed oversized?

Also, does the 5 Ton capacity refer to the air handler in the attic or the outside unit? In other words, if it is over-sized, do you think, I should replace the outside unit or the air handler or both?

    Bookmark   February 13, 2012 at 8:55PM
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Short cycling occurs when the AC has much more capacity than the heat load of the house. The AC turns on and cools the house very quickly. Quickly could mean 10 - 20 minutes. The short amount of time does not allow the AC to lower the indoor humidity. You feel cool but your are still sweating. It becomes a problem if you live in an area which has high humidity.

The 5 ton capacity refers the size of the condenser. The blower in the air handler is adjusted to work with various condenser sizes. Your handler may be able to work with a smaller condenser.

I don't have a good feeling about the installation contractor. He has done a poor installation and appears to be avoiding you. What type of warranty does he provide? Make sure you document the problems and stay on top of him.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 7:47AM
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What's sad about this story is the obvious pitfalls of an average homeowner purchasing expensive HVAC over the Internet.Any cost savings will probably quickly evaporate.

It is going to take a knowledgeable person/HVAC Rheem dealer to help sort this mess out. Plus on the surface without a load calc performed, I would say 5 tons is oversized for 2500 sq ft home.


    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 8:14AM
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Thank you for your explanation. Please correct me if I am wrong, but if I understand it correctly, oversize is not an issue during the winter season. As far summer is concerned, I do not think the area we live in (Northeast PA near Hazleton) is high humidity area, so I am hoping that it may not be a serious issue to deal with. However, if it becomes one in summer, would it be possible to have one or more dehumidifiers installed installed inside the house and resolve this?

    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 11:31AM
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I smell a do it youselfer. Why would you buy a unit off the internet when a contractor can do it for the same price or less? I assume this is a r410 a system, dirty filter drier. I hope you get everything you paid for..

    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 12:43PM
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I am really not a do-it-yourselfer---unless plugging in something is a do-it-yourself project! I trusted the contractor for the size and for the installation and paid him for the entire installation. Now that he is trying to minimize his work, I am simply trying to explore different solutions in case I experience problems in summer. I asked about dehumidifier because I thought it is something I can buy and plug in rather than try to exchange the current equipment for a lower sized unit and have another contractor install the new unit all over again. However, if that is the only way to go, I will of course, have to consider that option. Thank you for whatever insights you can provide given the constraints.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 7:02PM
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You can use a dehumidier if you have humidity problems. Depending on the conditions it may or may not be necessary.

The bigger problem is the air handler is tyring to push 2000 CFM of air when it used to push about 1200 CFM with your 3 ton system. This could also lead to problems the least of which is a noisy duct system.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 7:27PM
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Using a dehumidifier to control humidity in your whole house will likely be VERY expensive as far as electric usage.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 8:45PM
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If the unit is sized right it will drop the humidity tremendously even if it is not a variable speed with txv.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 11:15PM
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