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Fall Heat Pump Maintenance

Clean Air Conditioning Condensing Unit

Heat Pump’s, like central air conditioners, have an outdoor unit that contains a compressor, a coil, a fan, and other components.  To function properly, this unit should be kept free of debris such as leaves and dirt.  The unit should be level on its support pad, which is often concrete or heavy-duty plastic.

Clean pine needles, leaves, and dirt out of updraft fans by removing the grille, which are typically held to the frame by a series of retaining screws.  Make sure the power to the unit is off before tackling this type of cleaning.   A vacuum cleaner hose can sometimes be inserted between the fan blades to remove debris from the sides and bottom of the unit.

At the beginning of each heating season, set a carpenters' level across the top of the metal cabinet and check the level from side to side and from front to back.  If the unit is no longer level on the pad, lift the pad back to level by prying it up with a pry bar or a piece of 2-by-4.  Build up the ground under it with stone or crushed rock.   If your units’ support pad is made of concrete it may be more difficult to do this, so you may need to contact a service professional to help you.  Also check the piping insulation for deterioration. If this insulation is faulty, replace it with new insulation, available at heating supply stores. Installation instructions are usually provided by the manufacturer.

If your heat pump has been off for more than an hour because of a blown fuse, a tripped circuit breaker, or a utility power failure, the unit should NOT be operated for approximately six to eight hours, especially if the temperature is 50 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.

The lubricant in the pump's oil reservoir may have become too cool to circulate properly and may cause damage to the valves of the unit.  Instead, set the pump on emergency heat.  This turns the pump off and keeps it from running.

Leave the heat pump in this mode for approximately six to eight hours, than switch the pump to its normal heating setting. If little or no heat is generated at this point, call a professional service technician for service or repairs.

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