‘Tis the season for heat pumps! Heat pumps are a smart way to keep your house warm as the cold weather creeps in. They are efficient, effective and save you big money in the long run. However, they need to be looked after and maintained throughout the year (and especially throughout the winter). Make sure your heat pump maintenance is up to par by understanding how heat pumps operate and following these 5 simple tips.
How A Heat Pump Works
It’s important to have a basic understanding of how a heat pump works in order to maintain it properly. If you are wondering what it looks like, it’s a metal box that sits outside (usually in the back) of your home. In the winter, its main purpose is extracting heat from the outdoors and transferring it indoors. In the summer, it does the opposite. It extracts cool air from the outdoors and transfers it indoors.
There are different types of heat pumps that collect heat from the air, water, or ground (and yes, there is heat to extract from all of those, even when it’s cold outside). In other words, heat pumps move heat around, as opposed to boilers, furnaces, fireplaces, space heaters, etc., which generate heat. This means heat pumps make your home much more energy efficient.
Heat Pump Cost
Heat pumps operate using electricity rather than fuel. They can provide equivalent space conditioning at as little as one quarter of the cost of operating conventional heating or cooling appliances. Installation of the heat pump costs roughly $4,000 - $8,000 depending on the size of your home. Over time, your utility bills will be cheaper because of the money you will save from heat generation in the winter (and air conditioning in the summer).
Tips For Heat Pump Maintenance
It’s possible you may run into some issues with your heat pump once temperatures drop below a certain point, like 40°F. Check on your heat pump often to ensure there are no obstructions or issues with the machine. In order to keep your heat pump maintenance routine running as smoothly and efficiently as possible, implement these 5 tips.
1. Keep Your Heat Pump Away From Gutters
Don't let the outdoor unit sit underneath a leaking gutter. In the winter, water could drip on top of the unit and freeze solid. This will restrict the air flow and cause the whole unit to freeze-up.
2. Be Proactive When It Comes To Buildup
Make it a habit to look at your heat pump during the winter months for signs of excessive ice or snow piled on or around it. Keep the snow, ice and leaves away from the top, sides and bottom of the heat pump. This is especially important after bad weather. The more frequently you keep an eye out for this, the less likely you will have issues.
3. Don’t Forget About Emergency Heat
Turn the thermostat to emergency heat or the off position while removing the buildup. This way your heat pump will stop extracting heat during your maintenance. The thermostat will heat your house while you are tending to the heat pump, but don’t forget to turn it back to normal heating once the unit is clear of snow and ice.
4. Practice Caution While Cleaning
To melt the snow and ice, pour warm water or even cool hose water on top of the pump. Don't use any sharp objects to pick or knock the ice off the coils. This could cause severe damage and personal injury. If the unit ices up again after cleaning, call for heat pump service.
5. Elevate Your Heat Pump
Heat pumps should be elevated 4 to 8 inches above ground level. This will keep coils clear of snow and ice and allow for proper drainage due to all the condensed moisture (much like an air conditioner).
Why Heat Pumps?
So, why bother if you have to deal with heat pump maintenance throughout the winter? As discussed, there are plenty of reasons. Reasons for choosing a heat pump include:
- A heating and cooling system all in one
- Eco-friendly and energy efficient
- Less noisy than other heating systems
- Long-lasting, in the range of 10 to 20 years
- Safer than combustion-based heating systems, meaning no chance of carbon monoxide emissions
- Relatively cheap
Don’t Get Left In The Cold
We are heat pump maintenance and repair experts. If you heat your home with a heat pump, be sure to schedule an appointment as soon as possible with the HVAC professionals at John C. Flood to maximize your heating system’s lifespan. Schedule service today and chill out while we warm up your home!