Heat pumps provide an invaluable service to the home, offering efficient heating during the cold months of the year and the same kind of efficiency at cooling during those warm, humid months in summer. The newer, high-end heat pumps are especially adept at energy efficiency and utility savings, but to keep them operating at an optimum level, some basic care tips should be kept in mind.
It is very important that homeowners schedule regular tune-ups for their heat pumps. If this one recommendation is followed, it can supersede all the other tips on care and maintenance. A service technician will take care of all those other special care items during an annual tune-up of the heat pump that many homeowners are not trained to handle. This is especially appropriate for homeowners who are not particularly comfortable with hands-on maintenance themselves, and would prefer to have qualified technicians do the job in their stead. This is one of the most important maintenance steps, regardless of homeowner comfort level. Skilled service representatives will have the experience and knowledge to identify any troublesome conditions, replace any worn or malfunctioning parts, and understand all common maintenance needed by a typical heat pump.
Change Air Filters
For such seemingly insignificant components, air filters can have an enormous impact on the operation of a heat pump. A clean air filter promotes air flow in both directions and ensures that the transfer of warmed or cooled air occurs efficiently and thoroughly. Conversely, a clogged air filter obstructs flow and prevents the ready transfer of conditioned air. This renders the heat pump relatively ineffective. Dirty coils and fans can have the same obstructive effect, so these should also be checked and cleaned as needed.
Even the worst handyman homeowner can perform a few simple observations to confirm that the heat pump has no observable problems that might require emergency service. For instance, ensuring that air registers are not blocked by furniture and other household items is one simple check that should be done by all homeowners. Since dirt, debris, and other obstructions have already been identified as killers for heat pump efficiency, it is well worth a homeowner’s time to inspect coils, blowers, filters, and all ducts for these. Looking for refrigerant leaks should also be a regular routine, because they can be indications of serious problems that need attention.
All electric terminals should occasionally be checked and cleaned if necessary. If tightening is needed, the connections should be suitably tightened down and the application of a non-conductive coating is a good idea as well at this time. Motors and belts can be inspected for signs of wear and tear, looseness, and lack of lubrication, although these may be areas better left to a qualified service technician.
In addition, homeowners should check on proper operation of the heat pump’s thermostat controls. This should include checking to verify that heating is locked out when the thermostat is set for cooling control, and that cooling is similarly locked out when the thermostat is set for heating control. This should always be done prior to a change of seasons, to ensure that the proper seasonal conditioning occurs before the changeover in conditioning is actually needed. The condensation pan, drain, and trap should all be inspected at regular intervals and cleared of any debris which might interfere with operation.