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.

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.

Maximizing the air-conditioning

 

The weather outside any subzero and everyone is more concerned about heat, but this is actually a great time to plan a more fuel-efficient air-conditioning system. There are ways in which a homeowner can see to it that the house gets exactly the cooling air it needs be comfortable, without busting the home budget.

Optimal Efficiency in the House

The first things that could be done involves the structure of the house. Windows can be fitted with window film to deflect the rays of the sun, seeing to it that unwanted heat does not penetrate into living quarters. Ceiling fans can also be put in to make certain that air circulates properly and that no one room is overly warm. Insulation around the windows is primarily a means of plugging the leaks. There really is no reason to air-conditioning outside with cool air escaping into the outdoors. A programmable thermostat can adjust the temperature so that when the house is vacant the level of air-conditioning is reduced.

Looking at the Air-Conditioning Unit

There are a number of heat pumps on the market but a homeowner may not be able to afford one just yet. The AC service can be made more efficient by a very simple air conditioning tune-up. This would include checking on the filters and also looking to see if there any possible refrigerant leaks in the existing air conditioner. This is the time of year that the HVAC unit is not in a lot of use, so doing any maintenance work is not going to cause an inconvenience for the household. The ductwork may need a little inspection to see whether or not there are accumulations of dirt that may be obstacles to airflow. If it looks as if there may be some mechanical problems with the air conditioner, it is a good idea to have an HVAC technician come in to do more in-depth work.

None of the above really costs and awful lot of money but it’s the kind of maximization that ensures that the air-conditioning is providing the best service when it is most needed. It’s also very easy to schedule maintenance work right now, because this is the off-season and HVAC maintenance companies have available time.

Taking Care of the Thermostat

 

The thermostat is the temperature control mechanism of the HVAC system. It sees to it that the living space is adequately cooled or heated, and the thermostat has to run accurately. A variance between settings, where the thermostat is set at one temperature but actually maintains a higher level of heat, can result in substantially increased energy bills. This is a primary reason why attention should be given to the maintenance of the thermostat.

 

Review the Calibration

 

Good calibration assures that the proper temperature is being maintained. If there is a variation between the reading on the thermometer and the reading on the thermostat, there may be some difficulty with the calibration. This will mean that the thermostat will have to be replaced. A homeowner has to be careful about the wiring of the thermostat, and be certain that the replacement thermostat has all the necessary wires attached to it. The new thermostat by the way must also have the same little rating as the one it is replacing. Checking to see if the thermostat is able to turn on and turn off the heating system is a final check to be sure that it is running properly.

 

Increase the Energy Efficiency

 

A good thermostat can make energy efficiency easier and maintain lower utility bills. Once a thermostat has to be replaced, a programmable model should be the new one. These models of thermostats can be programmed to lower the heating temperature in winter at times when no one is in the house, and then automatically increase the heat when the family is ordinarily at home. This little variation assures that only the heat that is necessary at a given time is in the house. It furthermore helps keep utility costs down because less energy is being expended. Maintenance of the thermostat doesn’t take a considerable amount of time nor any advanced expertise. It requires staying alert to any sudden variations in temperature in which the house is actually warmer than the temperature registered.

Maintaining the Furnace in Polar Conditions

 

polar-vortex-cold-weather

The polar vortex came as a very sobering shock to a lot of people. It is often the case the furnace is taken for granted during the cold months. Freezing or semi-polar conditions should alert the homeowner to the importance of a properly functioning furnace. The last thing that is needed in subzero weather is for the furnace to break down.

The Basics

Furnaces will take in colder air, clean it, heat it, and distribute the air throughout the house by means of the ductwork. That is essentially what a conventional furnace will do and the process repeats itself when the furnace is in operation. An unexpected loss of heat may simply be a thermostat that is not properly set, or it may mean there’s a circuit breaker blown. These are things which are very easily corrected. It is also possible the air filter needs to be replaced and that is easy enough to do. The homeowner can perform any of the tasks.

More Advanced Maintenance

Problems may surface with obstructions to the airflow and there may be difficulty with the gas burners themselves. Some difficulty may arise from the blower motor, and the heat anticipator of the thermostat may be having problems. These are challenges that may be above and beyond the expertise of a homeowner. Such cases would require the services of an HVAC professional and there should be no hesitation in bringing in such assistance. Trouble with the heat anticipator or blower motor can dramatically affect the warming conditions of the house. It is worth paying a service charge to have the problems fixed, and inspection of the furnace warranty may permit for certain expenses to be covered by the warranty, saving the homeowner some money. It is anybody’s guess if a polar vortex happens again. Making sure the gas furnace is operating efficiently will help any home weather the temperature drop.

Various Heat Pumps to Consider

2014

 

People who are thinking of doing some home improvements want to get as much out of their investment as possible. A reason why homeowners are willing to invest in heat pumps is the energy efficiency and low utility bills that will result. There is more than one type of heat pump on the market, and these will provide both heat and cooling service to a house.

The Basics of Heat Pumps

Heat pumps are a viable alternative to traditional furnace and air conditioning service. Essentially, they use electricity and heat pumps will transfer heat from one area to another depending on the time of the year. The energy efficiency comes from the fact heat pumps move heat and do not generate it. It means less fossil fuel is used to create needed warm or cool air.

The Types of Heat Pumps

Air  source heat pump is widely used and this transfers heat from the outside to the inside of the residence. This type of heat pump is an exceptionally good dehumidifier, and can provide excellent air-conditioning service in warm months. It also can cut the use of electricity by over a third of the normal use. Because these types do not work very well in very cold climates, a secondary source of heat will have to be available.

Geothermal heat pumps will transfer heat from the ground or any water source that is close by. These have low operating costs and can be used in cold climates where an air – source heat pump is not very effective. The absorption heat pump is a new model and will use heat as the energy source. This particular heat pump is fairly flexible in that any number of heat sources can be used.

The homeowner has the decision to make of which heat pump to be used. Before making a purchase that individual should take in consideration the climate, the subsoil of the property, and whether or not a backup source of heat is needed. Heat pumps provide both good heat and air conditioning service, and will do this using less energy than ordinary fossil fuel burning systems.

 

Dangers of Winter Carbon Monoxide

 

 

Winter is the season when families close the windows to shut out the cold drafts and stay inside to take advantage of the warmth coming from the furnace. There is no problem for this in ordinary circumstances but a defective furnace is a source of very serious health hazards. The worst is carbon monoxide. This is a gas that has no odor but it is poisonous. The possibility of carbon monoxide leaking from the furnace is a reason why a homeowner should take precautions during the winter.

Furnace service can be as simple as having a common monoxide alarm installed. It must be remembered these are not smoke detectors, and will only activate when carbon monoxide is noticed. If there is evidence of carbon monoxide the heat exchanger in the furnace needs to be replaced. Heat exchangers over period of time can develop cracks and that allows the gas to escape. Replacing the heat exchanger, by the way, is the kind of repair work that an HVAC professional ought to be doing. This is not a do-it-yourself project at all because of the danger of the gas that’s involved. It is also possible that the heating system of the house is not venting the flue gases out of the home properly. Again, an HVAC professional needs to inspect to see where any gas leakage is happening.

If a carbon monoxide alarm has not been installed, evidence of carbon monoxide can be symptoms of ill health the residents of the house may have. This can include nausea and drowsiness for which there is no explanation. If these symptoms become apparent it is time to the contact an HVAC technician to inspect the furnace. Winter is a time when people are indoors and the furnace is working at maximum capacity. Some safety precautions to guard against carbon monoxide gas can prevent serious and tragedy from happening during what should be a holiday season.