INDOOR UNIT (AIR HANDLER)
As with any heating or cooling system, a heat pump benefits from routine preventative maintenance. According to energy.gov, the difference in energy consumption between a well-maintained heat pump and a neglected can range from 10% to 25%. In other words, a dirty heat pump can cost you from $60 to $180 more to operate on an annual basis.
Routine heat pump maintenance helps keep the system performing efficiently. It also helps prevent damage to the compressor and other components, protecting your heating and cooling investment saving potential costly headaches down the road.
There are a few DIY tasks that can be performed by the average homeowner.
- Clean the indoor unit air filters at least every 30 days with a small vacuum or a light rinse. Allow to dry before reinstalling.
- Keep the outdoor unit free of grass, leaves, dirt, snow, and other debris.
- Maintain a 2-foot area of clearance around the heat pump and provide some sort of cover to block both rain and snowfall.
- Dust the supply and return areas of the indoor unit to keep the vents open and the air flowing easily.
- Call an HVAC contractor every fall to schedule heat pump maintenance! See our list of local services below.
OUTDOOR UNIT (COMPRESSOR)
The following outdoor unit symptoms are potential indicators that your unit might need a deeper cleaning and inspection by a contractor.
- Decrease in performance, “…less heat than before”
- Presence of material on the heat exchanger fins visible to the naked eye (dust, fireweed fluff, willow, bugs)
- Fan louder than before
- Long or frequent defrost cycles (every 50 minutes or so is average in near to below freezing temps)
- Excessive ice build up along the inside lower areas underneath the fan.
Despite the fact that our heat pumps seemingly push heat into our homes 24/7, overall they require very little annual attention. Like an electric car compared to an internal combustion vehicle, there are far fewer moving parts in this modern heating system than your old boiler or furnace. The result…a very short maintenance list. Still, there is a list and the more one adheres to it, the more efficient the heat pump will be, the lower its cost of operation, the more heat it will provide to your home, and the longer its overall functional life.
Annual heat pump maintenance, at the homeowner level, is all about cleanliness. Both the indoor unit and the outdoor unit must be kept clean, be offered a clutter-free space to work within, and ideally be protected from weather. The following video illustrates quite well what can happen inside your indoor air handler if you choose to forgo regular filter cleanings, as well as why it may be wise to pay for professional annual service on your heat pump. (Jump right to meat of the video by starting at 2:07).