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Heat Pump Maintenance

December 2nd, 2010 · No Comments

More people in our area are turning to heat pumps to heat and cool their home than any other type of home heating; they are primarily used in our area because of their cost efficiency and our mild climate. With all of the efforts on energy conservation having a heat pump is one of the most affordable ways to have affordable air conditioning in the summer and comfortable heat in the winter while using less energy. We are seeing more heat pumps being installed farther north as the efficiency of the units improves.

Many people worry that a heat pump can’t keep their home warm enough during the coldest part of the year, this is a concern because heat pumps startslosing their ability to maintain the inside temperature of your home when the temperature dips downto around 25 degrees F.

Depending on the SEER rating of your unit and the amount of insulation of your home this number will vary. This concern is real but heat pumps have an auxiliary heat source to cope with this problem, most units have an electric coil but the gas models are becoming more and more common. This auxiliary heat does two things; it will help supplement the heat when it is very cold outside keeping your home comfortable and if your home is cold and you want the temperature to rise over 3 or 4 degrees the auxiliary heat will turn itself on enabling the unit to raise the inside temperature fast.

Here is a list of the basic maintenance items you can do yourself to keep your heat pump working to keep your home comfortable and to extend the life of the unit.

• Make sure the outside unit is clean. This means that any grass clipping, leaves or debris should be kept away from the outside unit. The fan is pulling air through the coils to transfer the heat and if they are blocked the unit will have to work much harder to maintain the temperature inside your house

• Clean the outside coils if they are dirty (Do not disassemble the unit) gently sweep any grass or leaves away. Be sure the unit is off at the thermostat and there should be a service switch near the unit; then spray the coils with a water hose to clean them.

• Check the outside coils for bent fins. If you find very many bent cooling fins you can purchase a fin comb to straighten them (Be careful working around the coils: No screwdrivers)

• Look for torn or missing insulation on the large refrigerant line (Inside your home and outside) there will be a large diameter copper tube and a small copper tube. (The small one does not need to have insulation) If there is missing insulation replace it, you can buy foam insulation at the home supply stores and zip-ties work great if you need to tie the insulation on

• Trim any overgrown shrubs blocking the air flow around the outside unit. Air must pass freely over the coils to work properly

• Are the filters clean? Keep them changed regularly (Monthly is recommended)

• Make sure the condensate drain or condensate pump is not clogged and working properly.

• Visually check all the connections along the duct work that you can access and around the air handling cabinets, this includes looking inside your air return where the filter goes and make sure your entire system is sealed. If you find any gaps or openings tape, caulk or seal all the areas you can find that are losing air flow.

• You can go one step farther if you don’t mind climbing into your attic and/or going inside your crawl space if your house has duct work in these areas; turn on the AC and feel along of all the connections along the duct work that is accessible inside these areas checking for air loss. Repair any openings allowing conditioned air to escape with peel and stick aluminum backed tape

• Walk through the home with the AC on and make sure all the vents inside your home have adequate air flow. It is not uncommon for one of the duct lines to come off especially inside crawl spaces. This will create a large air loss making it hard for your AC to maintain a comfortable level inside your home; not to mention the possibility of pulling lots of air directly from inside your crawl space.

It is our recommendation that you have your Heat Pump serviced by a professional at least every two years. If the unit is not working properly or any work needs to be done inside the units; call your service professional.

This is another helpful source of information provided to you by your home inspector

Preston Sandlin and Home Inspection Carolina have providing thorough quality home inspections in the Charlotte NC area for over 15 years.  Preston has a masters’ degree in Education and has taught Home Inspection classes for years.  He also is a certified infrared thermographer.  Home Inspection Carolina has  been on TV many times and has a Charlotte Home Inspector radio show .  So you are in need of a home inspection in Charlotte NC, Gastonia NC, Waddington NC, Mooresville NC, Fort Mill SC or Rock Hill SC call Home Inspection Carolina (704) 542-6575.


Preston Sandlin

Home Inspection Carolina

Ask the Charlotte Inspector

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