How to Maintain Your Heat Pump System to Last Longer
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How Does a Heat Pump Work?
A heat pump is an HVAC system that can be used for heating and cooling that utilizes a small amount of energy to move heat from one place to another. They are most commonly used to pull heat out of the ground or air and transfer it inside your home during the colder weather. In the summer, it will act like an air conditioner, pulling the heat out of your home and transferring it outside. These systems are known to be highly energy-efficient and can function as both an AC unit and a heating system for your home. Read more to find out about heat pump maintenance out why you would choose a heat pump for your home.
Homeowners choose heat pumps for their HVAC system because only one system will need to be installed and maintained, and they are a more environmentally-friendly option. Their noise level is comparable to central air conditioners, which means they are not the quietest to operate but have a significantly quieter operation than window air conditioners or portable air conditioners.
There are various kinds of heat pumps, but they all follow a heat transfer process instead of requiring fuel to generate heat. This heat transfer process is possible due to thermodynamics, which will naturally flow heat from higher temperatures to lower ones.
Types of Heat Pumps
There are three primary types of heat pumps, and the type depends on where the heat is drawn from, whether air, water, or the ground. The type you choose will mainly depend on the amount you can invest, the climate in your area, and the type of land surrounding your home.
Air-Source Heat Pumps
An air-source heat pump is one of the most common types of heat pumps found in homes. These systems work by transferring heat between your home and the air outside. These systems can provide up to 50% energy savings compared with furnace and baseboard heating. Their ability to help dehumidify the air also helps lower summer energy costs. They work for any size of home, no matter how high the square footage, making them the perfect room air conditioner or whole-house AC system. While these systems are now designed to work better in colder climates, they are not as efficient when the temperatures drop significantly.
Geothermal Heat Pumps
Geothermal heat pumps can be ground to source or water to source and are not as commonly found. These systems can gain the highest efficiency rating over other systems but can be significantly more expensive to install, and installation may not be possible in all locations. For some homeowners, though, the high energy efficiency rating is worth the cost to install, especially in areas where energy costs are high. A geothermal heat pump can save you 30 to 60% off your energy use and help manage the humidity. They also can be used in areas that see colder temper
Absorption Heat Pumps
A heat pump system that is significantly newer to the market is absorption heat pumps. Also known as gas-fired heat pumps, absorption heat pumps will use thermal or heat energy. This means they can be driven by a wide range of sources, such as natural gas, air, geothermal heated water, or steam from solar-heated water. This is how they differ from heat pumps that use mechanical energy to function. These units are significantly larger, but they do consume less electricity than compression heat pumps.
Does a Heat Pump Also Cool?
One of the greatest benefits of having a heat pump for your HVAC system is that it can take the place of a central air unit or provide you with a cooling option if you have a ductless system. It is one of the best air conditioner systems available. During the summer months, your heat pump will reverse to transfer heat out of your home instead of pulling it in.
During the cooling process, your heat pump will pass a liquid refrigerant through an expansion device, which will be changed to a vapor mixture that is low pressure. After it changes form, the mixture will go to the indoor coil, which functions as an evaporator coil does in a split system. The heat from the inside will be adsorbed by the refrigerant, where it will turn into a low-temperature vapor.
The vapor will then continue through a reversing valve and onto the accumulator, where the excess liquid will be collected. Its final stop is the compressor, where its volume will be reduced, and it will heat up.
The gas has now been heated and will go through the reversing valve outside to the outdoor coil, which acts as a condenser and transfers it to the outdoor air. The refrigerant will return to a liquid state and return to the expansion device, where the process will repeat.
The heat pump will also act as a dehumidifier in your home during the cooling process by drawing the moisture to the indoor coil, which will condense and be collected into a pan. A condensate drain will connect the pan to the house's drain system.
How Often Should You Do Heat Pump Maintenance?
Whether you use your heat pump for heating or as an air conditioning unit, it will need to be regularly maintained to improve its longevity and ensure it can deliver warm and cool air when needed most. You can choose to have your heat pump service seasonally or annually, or you can even DIY your heat pump maintenance, ensuring that your indoor and outdoor units are operating as well as they should.
While monthly maintenance isn’t necessary to have a visit from an HVAC technician, there are a few things you should check each month to keep your heat pump operating at its greatest efficiency. Every month you will want to check your filters in the indoor unit and wipe them down if necessary to remove all dust and debris buildup. As the air returns to the heat pump's indoor unit, it can bring dirt and allergens that may be in the inside air. This debris will be trapped in the filter but will build up over time. Too much buildup can lead to airflow problems with your system and poor performance. Failing to clean the debris off your filter can also lead to a buildup on your indoor coil, which may require professional cleaning.
If you plan to use your heat pump for heating and cooling, you should also perform some seasonal maintenance. The best times of year for a season check are Fall and Spring. During the seasonal inspection, you will want to focus on your outdoor unit. You will need to check around it to ensure there are no tall grasses, weeds, or brush close to your system. You may also want to trim branches that may drop leaves on them. Clear anything away that could get caught in the fan and cause an obstruction. You can gently hose it off if you notice dirt or debris on the outside unit.
If you live in an area that sees heavy snowfall, you may also want to check your unit in the winter to ensure that no drifting snow has accumulated in front of the outdoor unit. Any kind of snow buildup around the unit can limit the air the machine will have access to. If left too long, your system could freeze up, or your fan motor could fail.
Annual maintenance is a must and the perfect time to have an HVAC technician come out to give your system a thorough once over. During their visit, a technician will check the wiring and connections and give the overall machine a complete look to ensure nothing is damaged or worn. They will also check and clean your filter and wash off the outdoor unit. The yearly visits are an essential part of maintenance because it allows problems with the system to be found before they turn into a more significant problem.
Winter Outdoor Heat Pump Maintenance
Most of the maintenance for your heat pump will focus on the outdoor unit, which, due to its location, is more subject to damage than the inside unit. While winter months usually won’t require much maintenance, you may need to take care of your outdoor unit if it is covered in ice or snow. Below are a few simple steps to ensure that the ice is cleared and the heat pump begins to function as it should once the removal is complete.
- You will need to turn off the indoor units in your home with their remote control if you have a mini split or at the thermostat if not.
- Turn the breaker off, which provides power to both the indoor and outdoor units, so you can safely work on your system.
- Leave the breakers off for at least 30 minutes before moving on to the next step.
- Gently pour hot water over the ice on your outdoor unit until it melts and ultimately dissolves. Never try to chip or break away ice from your outside unit, as it can permanently damage the coils.
- Once you have cleared all the ice and ensured that the area around the unit is free from snow, you can flip the breakers back on.
- Once you have turned the breakers on, wait 30 minutes until you turn the indoor units on. You may have to wait ten more minutes for the heat to begin generating.
- If, after ten minutes, only cool air is coming out, it might be related to the outdoor temperature if it is especially frigid, but if the temperature outside is not especially cold, then there could be a problem with your system, and you may need to call an HVAC technician.
How Can I Make My Heat Pump Last Longer?
Heat pumps are an investment, but they can be worthwhile when choosing an Energy Star-rated option that can provide you with lower energy bills throughout the year. But, since it can be costly at first, it is crucial to protect your investment so that it can function efficiently as long as possible. The good news is you can increase your system's longevity and help keep it performing optimally by following a few simple tips.
Keep Your Filter Clean
One of the best things you can do to prolong the life of your heat pump is to make sure that the filter is clean so that the airflow is not restricted. Clean filters also mean that you will enjoy better indoor air quality, as dust mites, pollutants, and allergens will be trapped and removed from the air as long as the filter functions properly. Depending on your filter type, you may need to replace it or clean it. Check the manufacturer’s guidelines to see how frequently you need to check, change, or clean your filter to ensure proper functioning.
Keep Your Outdoor Unit Well-Maintained
The other vital component of your heat pump is your outdoor unit. It can be easy to overlook, but if not well-maintained, it can severely damage your system and lead to significant repair bills. Your outside box should be free from debris, leaves, sticks, and shrubbery. If these items surround your system, they can easily get into it, causing damage to the fan and leading to a system breakdown.
Have Your Ductwork Cleaned
If you have a ducted system, you will need to ensure that your ductwork is cleaned once every few years. While your system runs, dust and debris that has settled in your ductwork can mix with the conditioned air and be forced out into your home, leading to poor indoor air quality. It can also lead to increased dust around the house, which can trigger allergies and asthma symptoms. Having your ducts professionally cleaned will remove buildup and prevent it from getting into your home or back into your system.
Repair Your System When it Needs It
Failing to keep up with minor repairs can quickly lead to major problems with your heat pump. These minor issues can also lead to problems with the efficiency of your system. If you suspect you have a leak, are noticing some unusual noises, or feel your system is not heating or cooling properly, it is best to have your system looked at and repaired if needed.
Heat and Cool Your Home Efficiently With a Heat Pump From Superior Home Supplies
Whether you are looking for the most efficient air conditioning system with a solid cooling capacity or an Energy Star Certified replacement for your central air conditioning with a high SEER rating, we have the top pick heat pumps you are looking for. Superior Homes Supplies is a retailer with the best AC brands, no matter how many square feet you need to cover. No room size is too big or small. We have all of your HVAC needs, from air purifiers to Alexa and Google Assistant-controlled systems, to work with your smart home. Find the cooling power you need to get your home comfortable with one of our top-rated heat pumps. Contact us today to find out more.