If you own a heat pump, these heat pump maintenance tips will improve its performance. Studies show conclusively that heat pumps that are maintained properly will run more efficiently, will have fewer repair issues, and will last longer. Investing your time and minimal expense in heat pump maintenance tips will reward you with a more comfortable home and more affordable heating and cooling in the short-term and the long-term. Here are 5 heat pump maintenance tips that will help you get the most from your unit.
NOTE: Before you perform maintenance on a condensing unit, furnace or air handler, it is a good idea to turn off the circuit so that the system does not come on while you are working. This is for your protection and for the protection of the unit.
1. Clean the coils regularly. The main reason for a heat pump losing efficiency is dirty coils. Twice a year give the coils a thorough cleaning with a powerful utility vacuum fitted with a soft brush. The outdoor coil in the condensing unit will accumulate dust and yard debris. The indoor coil in the furnace or air handler will primarily accumulate dust. In warm weather, hose off the outdoor coil every few weeks to keep dust, grass clipping, dandelion seeds, etc., from building up on it. Also keep limbs of nearby trees and shrubs trimmed so that excess debris doesn’t fall onto the condensing unit.
2. Check the condensate drain and base pan. It is essential that the condensate drain be clear of sludge. Check it several times during the cooling season and clear any accumulated sludge. Make sure the base pan is also draining, and remove any mold or moss, along with debris. A system that is not draining will cause corrosion within the unit.
3. Check for refrigerant leaks. Small cracks in fittings or lines may be caught and repaired before a major repairs are. If you see a leak but don’t have the equipment to fix it and charge the system, call an HVAC professional to service it.
4. Lubricate the fan or motor if this is a required part of regular maintenance. Some fans and motors are permanently lubricated. If you see lubricant spraying out, it likely means the seal is broken and needs to be fixed quickly.
5. Keep the filters in the furnace or air handler clean or replaced. Dirty filters will restrict air flow and lead to excessive defrost cycles which will eventually harm the unit.
It is common for well-maintained heat pumps to last for 15-20 years with few repairs along the way. Poor heat pump maintenance can lead to repair issues and possibly total system failure in as little as 8-12 years. Good maintenance will also allow your heat pump to run as efficiently as it was designed to run, while dirty heat pump coils or filters can rob a heat pump of 25% to 50% of its efficiency.
It is also recommended that you have a qualified contractor give your heat pump a thorough inspection and perform comprehensive maintenance every 1-2 years. See the manufacturer's guidelines for recommended frequency. These heat pump maintenance tips will help you get the most from your heat pump now and well into the future.