A good heat pump maintenance plan will include a thorough check of the refrigeration system, the electrical system, the heat pump controls, and the air filter system of the heat pump. Heat pump maintenance is as important as maintenance on your vehicle. If we fail take good care of our vehicle then it is more prone to breakdowns whereas if we keep it in good condition with proper maintenance it is more reliable and repairs usually cost less when repairs are needed. Of course if you take good care of the heat pump with regular maintenance major repairs will likely never occur and it is possible you will repair free with a good maintenance plan in place for your heat pump. Basic maintenance adds life to the equipment, keeps the equipment running longer adding to the life span, and during the overall life will keep the heat pump more efficient.
- Check motors, capacitors, and lubricate motors as necessary.
- Check amp draws (current) for all electrical loads in the system to make sure readings are normal for electrical loads. Any abnormal readings out of range from normal will indicate a possible bad component or a motor that will fail soon.
- Check electrical connections. Loose electrical connections can be big problems in the future including being a fire hazard.
- Check heat pump components including the reversing valve the defrost cycle.
- Check auxiliary heating system to ensure heat pump will continue heat while in defrost mode.
- Check refrigerant level.
- Check duct work for air tight integrity.
- Check crankcase heater on the compressor
- Test all safety controls for the heat pump system
- Make maintenance or repair recommendations to keep the system running reliably and smoothly over the course of the season or the life of the heat pump.
By and large gas furnaces and heat pumps will cover a majority of the heating systems out there. There are other systems that require maintenance including boilers – both hot water boilers and steam boilers – and oil systems that include forced air oil furnaces and boilers, geothermal heating systems and electric heating systems. As always we recommend a professional HVAC technician do the maintenance on your system.
Dirty Heat Pump Coils and Heat Pump Maintenance
Additionally, if dirty coils are found with the heat pump equipment then the technician should clean the coils for proper maintenance and to restore the coils to there original condition. Dirty condenser coils on a heat pump will cause both heating and cooling problems for the heat pump system. Conditions that result in dirty condenser coils include grass clippings from owing the lawn, duct and dirt, and trash. These things need to be removed from the heat pump coils and should be a part of a basic maintenance service for any heat pump maintenance. Additionally, bushes and shrubs should be trimmed and kept from impeding any air flow the heat pump condenser as this will also effect the efficiency of the heat pump system.
Evaporator coils should also be checked for anything that will inhibit airflow across the heat pump evaporator coil. Dirty coils can result from bad duct work especially the return duct or by not properly maintaining and keeping a filter in the system. Dirty heat pump evaporator coils should be cleaned as a part of regular maintenance. Additionally, the HVAC technician should always advise the homeowner about properly maintaining their heat pump system to prevent failures and to keep the coils clean. This goes along with good service and lets the consumer know that the HVAC technician has the best interest of the consumer in my mind.
Other problems that need to be addressed with regular basic maintenance include if the system is low on a refrigerant charge. This means the heat pump system has a refrigerant leak and it needs to be repaired. The refrigerant leak must first be found and this is not a part of typical maintenance but a separate service that will normally have to be re-scheduled for a later time and can be costly because of the time and materials involved in finding and repairing a refrigerant leak in a heat pump system. There are the usual suspects with finding leaks in heat pump systems such as the shrader valves and a check of the accumulator. Sometimes the leak can be found quickly and other times it can take hours. The typical split system heat pump will have a line set running from the condenser to the air handler. These line sets usually run through chases and in the void of walls. There are cases where a nail punctured the line set and all the refrigerant leaked out. (See our video section for a video of a real life example of this problem). While these types of refrigerant leaks are unusual they do occur and can be costly to repair.
Regular heat pump maintenance will save you a lot of money in the long run.
Basic Maintenance for Heat Pumps