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All About Heat Pumps In Birmingham Alabama

Winter’s here, and heat pumps in Birmingham homes are probably kicking into high gear. To keep your home comfortable, they move warm air from outside to inside.

Homeowners in areas like Birmingham, who experience milder winters, have used heat pumps for many years. Why? Because heat pumps require less maintenance and lower running costs than combustion heating systems. Have a traditional HVAC system? Schedule your heat pump installation with Douglas Cooling & Heating today! 

Do you know how they work and how to maintain them properly through the winter months? We outline those topics and more below.

Parts of Heat Pumps

To get a better idea of how heat pumps work, it helps to know about its parts. The system contains an outdoor unit which looks similar to an air conditioner and an indoor air handler. The heat pump works with the air handler to distribute the warm or cool air to interior spaces.

In addition to the electrical components and a fan, a heat pump system includes a(n): 

  • Compressor which moves refrigerant through two sets of copper coils. One is inside your house and another outside. It also pressurizes or compresses, the refrigerant as it changes from gas to liquid.
  • Condenser is one of two sets of coils containing refrigerant. When the unit is heating, the outside coils act as the condenser. The outside coils extract heat from the outdoor air and condense the refrigerant into a gas. The gas then travels to the indoor evaporator coils.
  • Evaporator, where gaseous refrigerant pressurizes in the indoor evaporator coils. This causes it to return to its liquid form and release the heat it stores.
  • Air handler moves heated or cooled air from the heat pump into the system’s ductwork. From there it moves throughout your home.
  • Reversing valve changes refrigerant flow direction and switches the heat pump’s function from heating to cooling.

How Heat Pumps Function

Refrigerant flows through a closed system of refrigeration lines between the outdoor and the indoor unit. Even in cooler temperatures, the condenser coil absorbs enough heat energy from the outside air and the evaporator coil releases it inside.

A motorized fan then pulls indoor air into ductwork. Meanwhile, the refrigerant pumps from the interior coil to the exterior coil, where it absorbs the heat from the air. Then, it pushes the heat through connecting ducts to air vents throughout your home, raising the temperature. This refrigeration cycle happens continuously, providing consistent heat.

How to Care for Heat Pumps

According to the Department of Energy, the difference between the energy consumption of a well-maintained heat pump and a severely neglected one ranges from 10 percent to 25 percent. Here are some tips to keep your heat pump in working order:

  • Change your air filter. A dirty filter blocks airflow to your system. Poor airflow increases its energy consumption and causes operational problems.
  • Know your heat pump thermostat settings. It likely has three settings: heat, cool and emergency heat. When heating your home, switch your heat pump to “heat” mode, not “emergency heat” mode.

    Only use emergency heat mode when your heat pump is broken or covered in ice. By switching to emergency heat, you’ll bypass the heat pump and only use your backup furnace while your heat pump defrosts or is being fixed. 
  • Remove branches, snow and debris from your outdoor unit. Unlike conventional heating and cooling systems, a heat pump uses its outside unit during winter. As it gets colder and leaves begin to fall, twigs can get stuck in your outdoor unit’s fan.

    Remove any debris building up on your heat pump’s outdoor unit. It’s also important to remove any snow buildup on your heat pump.
  • Schedule a tune-up. Even though your heat pump runs all year, you should still schedule a tune-up for it, as well as for its backup furnace, twice a year.

Call Douglas Cooling & Heating: We’re Experts with Heat Pumps

Are you past due for maintenance on your heat pump? Call Douglas Cooling & Heating to schedule a service call today. If you think you’re ready to upgrade, we offer finance options to help spread out payments. We want to help you so give us a call today!

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