Heat pumps are the most essential component of your heating and cooling system and yet many homeowners have no idea what they are or how they work. Even though most of your HVAC system may be, out of sight out of mind, maintenance on the entire system is vital, but most important for your system.
How Does A Heat Pump Work?
Most people think heat pumps create heat; however, what they do is redistribute heat from the outside by using a coolant that circulates between the air handler unit and exterior compressor to transfer heat to warm the home. Heat pumps are also used to cool the home by absorbing indoor heat and transferring it outdoors.
HVAC Heat pumps are common in systems in homes located in more temperature or mild climates where temperatures do not drop below freezing often. Heat pumps can be used in furnaces to make them more energy efficient. If the temperatures reach freezing, heat production will automatically kick over to the furnace.
In addition to how the they works, homeowners should know what the various components are to maintain them correctly.
Heat pump components include:
- Outdoor condenser/evaporator unit
- Indoor fan
- Reversing valve
- Expansion valve
Maintenance is Key to an Efficient System
To maintain each of these components as well as the heat pump as a unit, there is a specific maintenance schedule that must be followed. During winter months you should ensure there is no ice or snow build up that would restrict air flow. During the remaining months of the year maintenance will include these steps:
- Removing foliage, trimming shrubs away from the unit.
- Make sure pump is elevated at least four inches off the ground.
- Ensure there are no gutters leaking above the unit.
- Clean or replace filters at monthly.
- Make sure registers are open.
- Clean outdoor coils if they look dirty.
Many professional HVAC companies will offer scheduled preventative maintenance for your heat pump and HVAC unit. Checkups should happen once per year, but twice is preferable. Fall and Spring are the best times for maintenance and help prepare for the times of year when the heat pump will work the hardest—Winter and Summer.
A maintenance technician will inspect the ducts, coils, blower, filters, and other parts of your system in addition to the heat pump. They will also ensure that there is no duct leakage, and the refrigerant is charged sufficiently and replaced if necessary. Motor lubrication, belt inspection and replacement, and inspecting drain holes and thermostats are all a part of preventative maintenance.
All these tasks sound like a lot to remember and take care of which is why you need a professional HVAC company to handle these vital steps for you at least once per year.