Addressing Heat Pump Problems

 

People rely on their heat pumps to be running without problems during the winter time. Even if the weather sometimes is mild during the day it can get extremely cold at night, and that is the wrong time for the heat pump to malfunction. However, there are times when heat pump service is not as good as it could be.

 

Erratic Temperature

 

The most common problem that will arise is when the thermostat is set for a given temperature and yet the house registers a few degrees cooler. While this is not a state of emergency, it is a condition of inconvenience and the heat pump may not be working efficiently. The homeowner may want to take a look at the environment surrounding the heat pump first. It may be possible that the house is poorly insulated or snow and ice is covering the outside unit. Both require very easy maintenance to correct. If after adding insulation or removing the ice there still is some difficulty with the temperature that might be the heat pump mechanism itself.

 

The Need for Professional Attention

 

Anything that involves the internal workings of a heat pump is something that may be above and beyond the capabilities of a homeowner. It is possible a new thermostat may be needed because the present one has some calibration problems. Refrigerant is a serious matter because there may be leakage and that can affect the environment. The compressor valves could be malfunctioning or compressor itself may not be running. These are all situations where an HVAC technician is the best alternative. That individual has the skill set and the tools necessary to see to it that the heat pump service is back to where it should be.

 

Maintenance of the heat pump during the winter can be easy or require experienced hands. The first thing is to always check to see whether or not it is the heat pump or something in the house such as poor insulation that is creating the chill. The inner workings of a heat pump should be something that only an HVAC technician should address. A homeowner could make a mistake in trying to fix heat pump and cause even greater problems as a consequence.

The Ductwork

It is not necessary to become a certified HVAC technician, but a homeowner ought to have an understanding of the air-conditioning system that cools his or her home during warm months. The ductwork is not something out in the open to be seen, yet it plays a very important role in keeping the house at a comfortable temperature.

The Basic Operation

Air is drawn into the air conditioning system by fans and within the Air Handling Unit (AHU) the air is cooled. The air is then circulated back into the living space through the ducts, and returned to the air-conditioning unit by means of the ducts. It is the circulation that can cause some of the difficulties commonly experienced with this part of the HVAC system.

Problems in the Ductwork

It is possible that dirt and dust can accumulate in the ductwork and these create obstacles to the airflow. They can require the system to generate more energy to get the air circulating, and that becomes a cost to the homeowner. Perhaps more serious would be leaks in the ductwork that allows cool air to escape. It can also cause warm air from the outside to enter into the circulation system. Either can generate additional cost for the homeowner.

The problems are not dangerous in and of themselves but they do create a situation where the air-conditioning is not performing as well as it can. This can be a problem in the summer when the air-conditioning is in continual use. Problems with the ductwork will generate greater utility bills and less efficiency. A certified HVAC technician is best qualified to take care of cleaning the ductwork. This person has the proper tools and skill set necessary to do a good job. An annual inspection of the ductwork can also identify problems that can be fixed before they are serious, saving a homeowner a significant amount of money in the long run.

Air Conditioning and the Environment

A primary concern for any maintenance inspection of an air-conditioning unit is whether or not there is a refrigerant leak. People may wonder why this is so important and it has a lot to do with a safe environment. Refrigerant has properties that may be detrimental.

Trouble With The Ozone

Much the environmental danger is concerned with the ozone. A measure of the threat to the ozone layer is the Ozone Depletion Potential or ODP. The less value registered by the ODP, less of a threat refrigerant is to the environment. Another measure is the Global Warming Potential, or GWP. The lower value registered by the GWP the safer for the environment is the refrigerant.

There is a chlorofluorocarbon compound known as R11. This has both a high ODP and high GWP. Refrigerants are measured against R11, with R11 having an ODP of one. This is a critical for determining whether the refrigerant is safe or not.

Various Refrigerants

There are quite a few refrigerants used and they have different ODP and GWP ratings. Refrigerants such as R134A, R407C, R410A and R417A are safe refrigerants to use and some alternative refrigerants that can be in an air conditioner include R290. All of these do not pose a threat to the ozone layer, but a refrigerant leak still is something that does require attention as soon as possible. The possibility the one of the older air-conditioning units may have a refrigerant with a high ODP is reason enough to attend to the problem immediately.

Refrigerant leak maintenance is not really a good do-it-yourself project. It is far better to have people who are experienced and trained in dealing with these compounds, because an HVAC technician would have the proper equipment to deal with the situation successfully. Preserving the environment has become increasingly more important part of HVAC technology and practice. The idea is to provide as much air conditioning or heating service to make a residence comfortable while the same time leaving as little an impression on the ecology as is practicable.

Heat Pumps for Mild Weather

Heat pumps provide the best energy efficiency if they are the right model for a given environment. A geothermal heat pump in mild weather does the job, but it isn’t really necessary for a location where temperatures are ordinarily above freezing. The best heat pump service in a warm or hot climate comes from and air – source heat pump.

How They Operate

There is a compressor and two coils within the heat pump along with aluminum fins to facilitate the movement of heat. The refrigerant in the outer coils will pull heat from the environment and evaporate it. The inner coils let out heat from the refrigerant as it goes back into a liquid state. The latest models of air – source heat pumps have thermostatic expansion valves and improve coil design to be more efficient. They also may have a split system where there is one coil indoors and one outside of the house. Depending on the need, cool or warm air comes from the ductwork which will pass through a wall or even the roof of the house.

The air – source heat pump works best with temperatures above 40°F and those with a demand – defrost control will reduce the amount of energy used to defrost the coils. Any heat pump is placed outside should have a means of obstructing the wind which could either be a fence or shrubbery. Overall, the heating efficiency an air – source heat pump is determined by the Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) and the cooling efficiency is determined by the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER)

Air – source heat pumps are becoming even more efficient with advances in technology. Currently, an all climate heat pump is being perfected that has a chance of reducing energy costs by as much as 60% depending on circumstances. Air – source heat pumps provide a great deal of energy efficiency in the warmer climates, and that optimal use of energy is reflected in substantially lower utility bills.

Take Advantage of a Tune up Opportunity

 

 Holiday shopping takes a lot of attention away from other projects, but a homeowner should take the opportunity during the winter to schedule a tune-up for the air-conditioning unit in the house. It a practical idea because the air conditioner isn’t used that often in the winter and the AC check up probably will not be that expensive. This is a way of doing some maintenance on equipment that will be extremely important when the temperature start to climb.

 

Getting Ready For Summer

 

Air conditioners get a lot of use in the summer and the tune-up repairs done in the winter helps keep the air-conditioning running efficiently when the weather becomes unbearably hot. The HVAC technician will do simple things like calibrate the thermostat, check on the condenser, be sure that the condenser fan motors and blades are in good working order, and see to it the evaporator coil is clean. Actual cleaning is one of the biggest benefits of an AC check up in the winter. The grime and dust that can harm efficiency are swept away and equipment is fine tuned for the high demand season. The HVAC professional can also spot situations where the equipment is starting to wear down and need replacement. It is far better to replace worn out belts and wires now than have to do it in the summer.

 

Curbing Expenses

 

An air-conditioning unit that has had a tune-up is one that does not require as much energy to generate the cooling air. The obstacles to efficiency have been removed, and the systems don’t have to put as much effort into maintaining the desired temperature. That translates into lower energy costs and smaller utility bills. It is another reason why taking a break from the holiday shopping to schedule an AC check up is really a great idea.

Getting Better Heat Efficiency in the Cold Months

The not so good news is that we still have a few more weeks of winter. There will still be a chance of very cold nights or when that will drive the wind chill factor down. Yet, a homeowner still can do a little energy efficient work in the house that will allow for better use of heat. The good news is this kind of maintenance isn’t all that expensive.

Do the Easy Things

Greater energy efficiency can be obtained just by changing the furnace filters. A homeowner may want to consider using a permanent filter insert disposable ones. The difference is that an electrostatic filter can trap twice as much dirt as a disposable fiberglass one. Ceiling fans can circulate warm air simply moving switched to running clockwise, and that brings the warm air down into the living space from the ceiling. Tune-ups are recommended and it is possible that the local public utility will provide a free annual checkup. There may be a few appointment openings left, and make sense just to call and find out. Window insulation as a buffer against drafts and a kit is easy to buy at the local hardware store.

Consider Some Routine Maintenance

Putting insulation in the attics encourages efficiency. The ductwork may need to be sealed and cleaned so that less energy is used to create heat. Putting in a programmable thermostat will also help maintain the right level of temperature at a reasonable cost. Some other home improvements may need the assistance of an HVAC contractor. Those who are certified through the ENERGY STAR program are proficient in improving the use of energy in the house. They can provide not just assistance but also advice on how to further economize on energy during the winter months.

Winter will soon be over and it will not be as much need for heat. Just a few tweaks can the house be a little bit more energy efficient as the colder months draw to a close. There is no need to waste a lot of energy keeping the house comfortable. Some minor adjustments can provide all the work that is necessary and conserve energy at same time.

Geothermal Heat the House

 Modern consumers are looking for a way to not only reduce the amount of carbon emissions but also to have needed energy at a reasonable price. The house still needs to be warmed and cooled properly, and simply opening or closing a window is not sufficient replacement for the old fossil burning furnace. Technology has advanced and HVAC systems can offer alternatives that use little or no carbon-based fuel. Geothermal heat pumps can provide both the heat and cool air are necessary to keep the house comfortable.

The Mechanics of Geothermal Heat Pumps

The geothermal system moves heat through liquid fill pipes buried in the ground. Below the surface the temperature of the earth is somewhere around 50°F. Geothermal heat pumps will take this heat from out of the ground through the pipes and process it either for cooling air or for heating purposes. A major benefit is that the amount of electricity needed for the geothermal heat pump to work is a fraction of what a standard heat pump would need. This type of HVAC equipment ordinarily comes with warranties of up to 10 years, and the lifespan is much more. Overall, they are considered much more energy-efficient than standard air-conditioners or gas furnaces.

Something to Keep In Mind

Geothermal heat pumps will ultimately pay for themselves and more, but the installment will require hundreds of feet of piping to be buried deep in the soil. Soil conditions will influence the overall cost of installation, and small lots will require drilling hundreds of feet straight down to reach the heat source. The cost overall is fairly high, and a homeowner should expect to pay as much as $20,000 or more for geothermal heat pump. All this understood these heat pumps will pay for themselves over period of time, substantially reduce utility bills, and the carbon emission created by geothermal heat pumps is almost nil. This is definitely an option for those people who have a great concern about carbon emission and are willing to pay for installation.

Workings of Heat Pumps

There is certainly a lot of talk about energy efficiency. Whether it is the media or friends in a coffeehouse, there is always a discussion of some sort about how to get needed heat and cooling without having carbon emission damage the environment. Heat pumps are referred to all the time but aren’t always explained. Before any homeowner does a home improvement that includes a heat pump, it is a good idea to know how these HVAC appliances work.

Taking from the outside and Putting It inside

Heat pumps work in a very unique way. It may seem odd to take hot air out of the environment and put it indoors, but a heat pump will do that and use refrigerant to cool the air if that is needed in warmer months. What is great about heat pumps is that they do not require nearly as much energy as standard furnaces or air-conditioners. Because a heat pump uses electricity, the carbon emission and use of fossil fuel is a fraction of conventional HVAC equipment. Best of all, depending on the type of heat pump to be installed, there are certain tax incentives and rebates available. Heat pumps are not necessarily inexpensive, but they will provide savings on the utility bills for many years after installation.

The Right Type of Heat Pump

A standard heat pump works very well in mild climates but in those areas where winter weather consistently falls below freezing a backup heating system will be needed. Colder states would be best served by geothermal heat pumps, but homeowner has to remember that a lot depends on the size of the property lot and the condition of the soil. If the lot is too small or the soil is too rocky, the installation of the geothermal heat pump will cost a fair amount. Despite these caveats, it cannot be denied that heat pumps provide the right amount of heat and cooling air at a very reasonable price. Heat pumps also reduce the amount of carbon emission into the environment, and that is certainly a public good.

Preventative Maintenance on Heat Pumps

Installing a heat pump is a positive step in the direction towards energy efficiency and lower utility bills. Heat pumps operate with minimal carbon emissions, and have been known to decrease utility bills by double-digit percentages. This machinery does need to be checked for wear and potential problems. Preventive maintenance will keep heat pumps running smoothly.

The Aging of the Heat Pumps

The idea behind the maintenance is to keep the machinery running for an extended life. Heat pumps are a durable appliance and should be able to run effectively for decades. They can, if some routine inspections are done to see if everything is in good order. A good heat pump is going to provide both heating and cooling for the entire year, and that takes its toll. Some parts may be worn down to the point of breaking and have to replaced, while others just need some lubrication.

Common Maintenance on Heat Pumps

Not all of the maintenance work requires expert knowledge or sophisticated tools. Sometimes, it can be just a change of the filters or perhaps replacing a blown fuse. Air ducts can have problems such as leaking points or loose parts. These can easily be fixed. Other maintenance can depend on the noise. Grinding sounds could suggest problems with the motor, and this is not something that a homeowner should try to repair. The same is true if there is a possibility of a refrigerant leak. Both of these situations will require a trained technician to go in and fix things. That is much better than having an untrained person try to do maintenance cause an even greater problem.

A maintenance check up once or twice a year will add considerable time onto the lives of these energy-saving machines. A good heat pump can last up to 30 years if properly maintained. The energy savings and lower utility bills that he pumps provide over extended periods of time gives a real incentive to have at least an annual maintenance checkup on the machinery.

HVAC Improvements for House Selling

There comes a time when a person has to consider selling the house. It may be due to a job transfer or simply moving to a bigger home that causes the decision to be made. Getting the house ready for sale may take some time and a few home improvements will add to the value of property. Work on the HVAC systems, including the air-conditioning and heat pumps, can raise the selling price.

Repair/Renovation

Too many homeowners will make unnecessary renovations to try to improve the value of their house. Some of these are very cosmetic and a prospective homebuyer could care less about them. Working on the HVAC system is different. Seeing to it that the ducts have been properly sealed and that the heat pump is in good working order can be beneficial. Prospective buyers want to be assured that the systems in good working order, so scheduling an inspection and maintenance a few weeks before the viewing will help. A homeowner may even want to keep a copy of the inspection to show to people interested in the house.

Installing New HVAC

Energy-efficient air-conditioning units and heat pumps are definite value adders to the selling price. A homeowner may want to consider installation of either and if that is the strategy, it would be a smart idea to check with a tax accountant on what possible breaks are available. Depending on the terms and conditions, a homeowner could get tax rebates and incentives for installing ENERGY STAR approved HVAC machinery. The HVAC system may also qualify as a capital improvement to the home and that is tax-deductible. It is important, however, to speak with a knowledgeable tax person before making the investment in a new HVAC system.

 A well running HVAC system adds value for no other reason than it keeps utility bills low. That can add a few thousand dollars on to the final selling price of the house. A homeowner should do some planning and get a few cost estimates before doing anything major, but even fine-tuning the HVAC system is going to mean extra cash when the house is finally sold.