In regards to HVAC equipment, heat pump systems offer the best of both worlds – they heat your home in the winter and cool it in the summer. That’s enough to make your traditional furnace or air conditioning system jealous! But since heat pumps function year-round and don’t take seasons off like air conditioners and furnaces, heat pump maintenance is critical to protecting the performance, efficiency, and service life of your unit. Douglas Cooling & Heating recommends having a heat pump tune-up done twice a year to keep your system running efficiently. We also share some other easy tips homeowners can do to maintain their heat pumps themselves.
If you have any questions about heat pump maintenance or would like to speak to a NATE-certified HVAC technician about installing a heat pump system in your home, contact the HVAC pros at Douglas Cooling & Heating. Douglas is Alabama’s most trusted heating, cooling, and plumbing company. We are happy to answer all of your heat pump-related questions.
How Do Heat Pumps Work?
Before we discuss how to maintain a heat pump, let’s first talk a little about how a heat pump works. Heat pumps operate differently than a traditional air conditioner or heating system because they don’t actually create heat or cool air. Instead, they move heat around to achieve the heating and cooling process.
In the summer months, a heat pump extracts excess heat from your home, sending it outside (or underground in geothermal systems). During the winter, the heat pump draws heat from outdoor air, moving it indoors to heat your living areas. As a result, the energy consumption of a heat pump is much less than other HVAC systems.
Furnaces, on the other hand, create heat, through the combustion of fossil fuels or electrical resistance. Air conditioners and heat pumps operate in much the same way to cool a home, but an air conditioner cannot perform heating functions as a heat pump can.
DIY Heat Pump Maintenance Tasks
If your Alabama home is equipped with a heat pump, there are certain heat pump maintenance steps you should take throughout the year to safeguard the performance and efficient operation of your equipment.
- Change the air filter as needed. Check the filter manufacturer’s recommendation for frequency while considering special factors about your home that may increase the frequency of changes, such as pets or smoking in the home.
- Clean outdoor coils as needed. Cut off power to the unit and use a hose to clear away dirt.
- Keep vegetation at least 24 inches back from your heat pump to allow for proper airflow.
- Never store items around your exterior heat pump. This includes patio furniture, lawn tools, outdoor toys, and other obstructions.
- Remove snow and ice from your unit’s exterior in the winter. This prevents damage and allows air to flow freely to the unit.
- Flush the unit’s condensate pan and drain to eliminate clogs that could cause mold growth and water damage to the surrounding areas.
Professional Heat Pump Maintenance
Furnaces and air conditioners each require maintenance once per year. Because they serve both functions, heat pumps should receive proper maintenance twice per year.
When should homeowners schedule heat pump maintenance? Once before the heating season and once before the cooling season. Spring and fall are ideal times to schedule professional heat pump maintenance due to the mild temperatures. In spring, a professional can evaluate the state of your system after the winter months, before you need to use it for cooling; in fall, they can take care of your heat pump maintenance needs prior to any impending cold spells.
Rest assured that good maintenance results in optimal efficiency and protection from costly breakdowns in the future. Setting up a seasonal schedule with a trusted HVAC specialist is one of the most effective ways to ensure your comfort all year long.
What to Expect During a Heat Pump Maintenance Appointment
During your heat pump service, our technicians perform the following inspections to ensure your unit is ready to meet the demands of the coming season. Once everything has been checked and verified, the technician will provide a report detailing their findings and recommendations.
Here are the key steps we perform during a heat pump maintenance visit:
Inspection and Cleaning
The first step in professional heat pump maintenance is to inspect the unit for any visible signs of damage or wear. This includes checking for cracks in the housing, loose connections, and any other obvious issues. The next step is to clean the unit, both inside and out. This helps to remove any dirt, dust, or debris that could potentially interfere with the heat pump’s operation.
Checking Refrigerant Levels
During heat pump maintenance, the technician will check the refrigerant levels. If the levels are low, this could be indicative of a leak somewhere within the system. The professional can then run tests to check for leaks and make a plan for repairs if found.
The technician will also inspect the evaporator coil and condenser coil for any signs of corrosion or damage. These coils are responsible for transferring heat, so it is important that they are in good working condition.
Heat pumps contain numerous motors that perform different tasks throughout the system. Each of these motors requires lubrication to ensure that they function correctly. During a maintenance visit, technicians will check the lubrication levels and add oil if needed. Properly lubricating these motors reduces the system’s wear and tear, ensuring a longer lifespan.
Some heat pumps have belts that help operate the system. These belts can become worn or break over time, which can affect the overall functioning of the system. Technicians will inspect the belts to ensure they are in good condition and tight enough to work correctly.
Servicing Electrical Components
The next step is to clean, tighten electrical terminals, and check the electrical components of the unit, including the compressor, fans, and motors. This helps to ensure that there are no loose electrical connections or other issues that could cause problems down the line.
Testing Safety Controls
After all of the components have been inspected and cleaned, the technician will test the unit to make sure it is operating correctly. The controls and safety switches in your heat pump help ensure that the system is operating correctly and safely. If the controls or switches are faulty, they need to be replaced to ensure the system is operating safely.
Technicians will also test the system’s airflow to ensure it’s running correctly. Inadequate airflow can lead to various issues such as reduced efficiency or even complete system failure. When your system doesn’t run efficiently, you’ll notice it reflected in your energy bills. Technicians will check your air filters to ensure they are clean and not restricting airflow. They will also check the ductwork for any obstructions or leaks.
Testing Thermostat Communication
Lastly, technicians will verify that the thermostat communicates correctly with the heat pump. Correct thermostat operation makes sure that your heat pump regulates the temperature within your home. If the thermostat is not communicating correctly, it can cause issues such as inadequate heating or cooling. Technicians will check the connections and reprogram the thermostat if necessary.
Schedule Your Birmingham, AL Heat Pump Tune-Up With Douglas Cooling & Heating Today
Taking care of your heat pump is important in all Alabama homes. With the right care throughout the year, your system will provide reliable heating and cooling at costs much lower than air conditioners or furnaces. Douglas Cooling & Heating is here to help you with skilled heat pump maintenance performed by our NATE-certified technicians. Contact Douglas Cooling & Heating today to schedule heat pump maintenance services.