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.

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.

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.

Going Over the Checkpoints

This is the best time to take a look at the air-conditioning unit of the house. There won’t be any need for air-conditioning until the weather gets hot, and a little tune-up work can guarantee the best results from the air conditioner. Rather than just looking into the machinery see if anything looks unusual, a decent check checklist can guide the homeowner in doing this winter maintenance on the unit.

Things to Do

ENERGY STAR is a program administered by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and they have developed what can be considered a bucket list for air-conditioning maintenance. Among the things that should be included in a routine inspection include:

  • Checking the condensate drain so there is no water backup occurring;
  • Take a look at the blower components to be sure that they are cleaned. This is important because if the regular flow of air is blocked it can result in a serious reduction in air-conditioning; efficiency;
  • Inspect the thermostat settings to be sure that what is registered is reflected in the actual temperature of the room;
  • Inspect the refrigerant and check for leaks.

Drawing the Line

There should be a dividing point in the checklist. A homeowner must appreciate that he or she does not have all of the expertise needed to do a complete job. There are some assignments like patching a refrigerant leak that ought to be left to professionals. Those people have the proper equipment and stores knowledge to best deal with major tune up work. There’s no reason to risk a mistake.

Maintenance that is governed by a list makes certain that the essential components are inspected and necessary adjustments or repair completed. Air conditioning that is at peak performance will not only provide the cooling air that makes house comfortable, but will also do it using as little energy as possible and keeping utility bills under reasonable control.

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.

Optimizing the HVAC

 

The HVAC system in a house consumes a considerable amount of energy and is the primary expense in any utility bill. A homeowner can make better use of energy and keep utility costs under control by doing what is necessary to optimize the HVAC system. Before a person cringes at potential costs, he or she should look at the ways of optimizing the HVAC that really aren’t that expensive.

 

Outside the System

 

Not a very tactic used to improve the air conditioning service or heating service in the house requires major overhauls to the HVAC system. Some efficiencies can actually be done outside of the equipment. Ceiling fans have a reputation for reducing cooling costs dramatically. When this is combined with thermostats thing to be program, the energy use and costs drop like a stone. Drafts are a problem that occur in the wintertime. Cold air comes into the house and that causes more energy to be expended to increase heat. Double pane windows can help keep the cold air out and insulation placed around window frames and doorframes also keep the whistling winds from invading the living space. Space heaters and under floor heating mats will allow for necessary heat without taxing the HVAC system. The best thing about all the recommendations is that they really are not that expensive. In fact, some of them are strategies recommended by green energy advocates who want to reduce carbon footprints.

 

Lowering the Cost

 

The cost-effectiveness of these ideas should be felt almost immediately. To gauge the full impact homeowner needs to check how much the energy use was the month prior to initiating the changes, and the months immediately following. There should be a noticeable decrease in kilowatt hours (kwH) or British thermal units (BTUs). All of these complement the HVAC system, allowing it to provide only what is needed in air cooling or heating.