Heat Pump Maintenance

Heat Pumps

A heat pump is an air conditioner, that when reversed, can heat your home as well as cool it. Like any other air conditioner, during the cooling season it collects heat from the interior of the home and discharges it to the exterior. By reversing the flow of re-frigerant in the unit, heat is collected from an outside source and is released to the interior of the home. The roles of the evaporator and the condenser become reversed.

In the northern climates, heat pumps are unable to meet the entire heating demands of a home efficiently. During the coldest parts of the winter there is not enough heat in the outside air to be collected economically. The heat pump is then shut down and the central heating system takes over. A heat pump is able to collect heat from three different sources – the air, ground, or water.

It is not advisable to operate a heat pump in the cooling mode when the
outside temperature is below 65 degrees, nor should it be operated in
the heating mode when the temperature is above 65 degrees.

Air Source heat pumps collect heat from the outside air. They look very much like a conventional air conditioner. On the exterior of the home is the unit that is used to collect heat during the heating season and expel heat during the cooling season.

  • Keep the cooling fins on the exterior unit free of dust, debris, and vegetation.
  • Periodically inspect for signs of moisture around the interior unit.
  • Check for any unusual sounds.

Ground Source heat pumps have piping that runs through the ground to collect or expel heat. The piping can be installed in the ground one of two ways – horizontally, which is usually a shallow installation, or vertically, which is deep below the ground surface.

Water Source heat pumps are able to extract heat from a large body of water such as a lake or deep pond (at least 12 feet). During the cooling season the opposite is true. The heat pump will expel the heat collected from the home into the water source.

The advantage of a water or ground source heat pump is that the temperature below the frost line is ambient or constant. Due to the fact that the temperature is constant, there is always a steady supply of heat to be collected at these levels.

One of the disadvantages of these systems is that if a leak develops underground, or under water, the source can be difficult to locate and costly to repair.



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