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Heat Pump Maintenance

by B.Annie on January 11, 2018

Heat pump maintenance is an important consideration when buying a home or considering changing your system over.

A heat pump is a remarkable device which brings heat from the outside air and uses it to produce heat for the comfort of those inside. However, heat pump maintenance is essential if the homeowner is to enjoy the cost savings the device produces.

Energy Efficiency

Most experts estimate that a heat pump is two to three times more efficient than the traditional means of heating a home. The most frequent use of a heat pump is for heating water in the hot water tank. This appliance is the second largest consumer of energy in a traditional home.

While an air conditioner takes hot air from a house and sends it outside, the heat pump takes warm air from outside and brings it in to use it to heat a water heater. The heat pump assists but does not replace the air conditioner and dehumidifier. Also, the heat pump removes water from the air, which then flows through a condensate line and on to a drain. Most of the units have a filter on top which should be vacuumed out or rinsed with a hose on a regular basis.

To understand what a heat pump is, it is important to understand what it is not. In a traditional water heater, electric coils inside the heater warm the water to use for showers, baths, hand and dish washing. For gas water heaters, the gas lights a flame at the bottom of the tank, which heats the water at the bottom and eventually the entire tank of water.

Heat pump is a hybrid

A water heater that uses a heat pump often combines the best of both worlds. The heat pump does most of the work by drawing in heat from the air outside and through the use of a condenser and compressor heats the water in the water tank. This process is not instantaneous. Often a hybrid operation employs a small traditional heater to warm water when needed quickly for large demands.  An example being when the household has guests so bathroom and cooking needs for water escalate.

This ingenious system delivers hot water when needed, is efficient and delivers significant cost savings to the family. But what happens when the homeowner neglects the system, perhaps for years, and sees the effectiveness of his heat pump begin to fall?

Outside Inspection

The HVAC technician will usually begin his inspection to maintain the heat pump by going outside to where the fan resides. Often his inspection reveals that leaves and debris have accumulated around the housing that contains the fan and coils.  The debris must be removed as this will affect the quality of the air that is drawn into the house. Once the cover is removed from the top, the technician will often find more assorted dirt and debris inside the housing.  This too must be removed for efficient operation of the heat pump.

Next step for the technician who is maintaining the heat pump is to examine the screens which are often caked with dirt and matter of all types.  He will remove the waste and thoroughly clean using a brush and garden hose. Often the junk is enmeshed in the screen and will require a chemical bath for cleansing.

Once the cleaning is complete, clean air can be pulled into the house for use by the heat pump to heat the water heater.

Controls inspected  

The technician next checks the electrical panel located near the fan.  Often the wires are pitted and the contact points not clean because of unwanted material that has collected around them.  When the points are not clean they will not make a good connection and the electricity will not be available to run the fan which pulls the air inside the house.

Once the panel has been thoroughly cleaned or replaced, the heat pump will be assured of a dependable flow of electricity to run the system.

The heat pump is a remarkable piece of equipment, but like other machines in your home, the heat pump must be maintained carefully in order to ensure its efficient operation. The careful homeowner is rewarded by the cost savings on the unit. The homeowner must remember the low cost to operate and maintain the heat pump when considering whether or not to purchase one.