Air source heat pumps are one of the most sought-after technologies in the HVAC industry. Homeowners love the energy efficiency afforded by a heat pump. Along with low energy consumption, heat pumps operate completely on electricity to reduce your carbon footprint. Finally, heat pumps provide both heating and cooling for year-round comfort.
With the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, most heat pumps now qualify for tax credits. So if you are considering a new heat, the incentives have never been better. When you partner with Thiele Heating and Air Conditioning, you gain access to a team of heat pump experts. As a top-level HVAC company in Indianapolis, we know the best heat pump units, train on the most cutting-edge installation methods and provide support for a lifetime.
Because air source heat pumps are unique, there are a number of key attributes to know as a homeowner, including:
- How a heat pump works
- Installing a heat pump
- Using a heat pump
- How to protect and maintain your heat pump
How a Heat Pump Works
There are three common types of heat pump designs. All heat pumps offer cooling and heating capabilities. Geothermal heat pumps use energy within the ground to operate. Ductless mini split heat pumps and air source heat pumps move warm air in or out of your home depending on the season to operate.
Since most homeowners are upgrading outdated air conditioners and furnaces, air source heat pumps are the most popular model. Just like an air conditioner, an air source heat pump has an outdoor unit. This unit looks very similar to a conventional air conditioner but operates quite differently. Heat pumps operate using pressure to transfer energy through refrigerants.
During cooling modes, air circulates through your indoor heat pump unit. The indoor coils are filled with very cold refrigerant. As air circulates across the coil, the temperature is lowered. As the refrigerant warms, it is transferred inside your home through lines and is dispersed into the outdoor air. The refrigerant cycles through the outdoor unit and returns to your home highly cooled to repeat the process.
During warming modes, the process is reversed. The air outside your home is condensed and refrigerant is heated. The heat is transferred to the indoor coil, and air within your home is warmed as it circulates across the indoor coil.
This process is so efficient, an air source heat pump is a viable replacement for air conditioners and even provides some homeowners with an alternative to furnaces. The recent rise in popularity is because heat pumps are considered a renewable energy source and offer consistent efficiency in heating and cooling modes.
The key difference in the reason air source heat pumps are considered more eco-friendly than furnaces is the fuel source. A gas furnace creates direct carbon emissions when it burns natural gas or propane. An air source heat pump is driven by electricity so the unit does not create direct emissions. Air source heat pumps are considered renewable energy sources.
Save on Energy
As energy costs fluctuate and rise, many homeowners prefer energy efficiency above conventional heating and cooling systems. Manufacturers like Bryant continue to improve the capability of heat pumps and will lower energy consumption. The impact on monthly energy bills is a long-lasting benefit.
Installing a Heat Pump
Heat pumps have an exceptional lifespan when properly maintained and installed by heat pump specialists. For new heat pump installation, Thiele can design a custom solution to suit your goals and needs. We work with you to design the most efficient and ideal system for your home and family.
For homeowners who are replacing outdated air conditioners, a heat pump is fortunately a fairly straightforward option. The heat pump usually can be installed within a day without extensive labor. It should be noted that every home is unique and every family has special needs. A heat pump specialist provides thorough insight so you can make the most informed decision and discover all of the benefits of heat pumps.
Depending on the region, some homes can operate solely using a heat pump. In Indiana and the Midwest, winters can be especially cold. Heat pumps are often partnered with an existing furnace or a high-efficiency furnace to ensure your home is protected on the most extreme winter days. This is called a hybrid system where heat pumps provide warmth well below freezing. If temperatures fall too low for the heat pump to work efficiently, a gas furnace supplements and warms your home. A hybrid system is the most eco-friendly and energy-efficient heating method because it only uses a furnace when necessary.
Using a Heat Pump
Operating your heat pump does not require many differences from conventional air conditioner and furnace combinations. The outdoor unit operates all year round and the indoor unit runs like your air handler and furnace to circulate air. One underappreciated quality of a heat pump is better indoor air quality. Relative humidity is more stable on average and fewer outdoor allergens enter your indoor air.
Since most homeowners who install a heat pump appreciate energy efficiency, Thiele recommends installing a smart thermostat. These devices help HVAC systems use less energy without sacrificing comfort. Since the relative humidity is more stable with a heat pump, many homeowners are able to adjust temperature settings to use less electricity throughout the summer and coldest winter months.
How to Protect and Maintain Your Heat Pump
Heat pumps operate all season so manufacturers recommend two annual tune-ups by professional HVAC experts. Heat pumps do not require more service than furnaces and air conditioners but should be maintained like a furnace before winter and like an air conditioner before summer. Thiele uses a highly specific checklist uniquely designed by our experienced team of heat pump specialists. Our guides prepare your heat pump in the spring prior to warm temperatures and again in the fall prior to temperatures falling.
Heat Pump Maintenance Checklist
The most basic heat pump maintenance includes a thorough cleaning of all equipment prior to service. During cleaning outdoor and indoor equipment, we visually inspect for any signs of abnormal wear. Routine heat pump inspection focuses on the points of note from the manufacturer, including:
- Inspecting and cleaning of the blower wheel housing and motor.
- Inspecting and, if required, cleaning of indoor and outdoor coils.
- Inspecting the indoor coil drain pan, as well as the primary and secondary drain lines.
- If the system has an auxiliary drain pan and line, they should be inspected at this time as well.
- Checking all electrical wiring and connections.
- Checking for secure physical connections of individual parts in each unit.
- Operational check of the heat pump system to determine actual working condition.
- Necessary repair and replacement of worn parts should always be performed by professional technicians.
When Thiele performs maintenance on a heat pump, we go beyond the standard heat pump maintenance checklist recommended by the manufacturer. Our technicians review your heat pump and your entire system, including:
- Clearing outdoor coils and fan blades with a soft brush
- Tightening connections and checking for damaged wire on the outside and inside of units
- Testing for refrigerant leaks
- Inspecting the drain line
- Clearing indoor coils
- Inspecting belts
- Testing airflow
- Verifying filters are clean and replacing filters if necessary
- Checking ducts for signs of wear and leaks
- Inspecting the vents in your home for optimal ventilation
- Advising of potential signs of repair
- Calibrating the thermostat
- Testing operations
Signs of Repair
As well as preventative maintenance, you should know the signs your heat pump needs repair. A well-maintained heat pump and new air filters save energy and protect against breakdown. Inevitably, the longer a heat pump works, the more likely you may need to have repairs performed. When you react quickly to potential issues, professional HVAC specialists can repair the system quickly and more affordably than when major damage occurs. Look out for these common signs of heat pump repair:
- Not Heating/Cooling properly – There are three main reasons temperatures are not comfortable in your home. Thermostat malfunctions may cause a heat pump to run in the wrong mode or not achieve the desired temperature setting. Low refrigerant levels may also cause heat pumps to stop working properly. Finally, the reverse valve may malfunction, causing heat in the summer and cool air in the winter.
- Strange Sounds – When components wear, especially moving parts, the heat pump may make odd noises. If the heat pump is making unusual noises, such as grinding, squealing, or knocking, it may be a sign that there is a problem with the unit that needs to be addressed.
- Odd Smells – Like a strange sound, the heat pump should not smell musty or otherwise different at any point. A moldy smell can indicate an issue with lines, refrigerant levels and even critters in your system.
- Heat pump Unit freezing up – If the heat pump’s outdoor unit is covered in ice or frost, it may be a sign that there is a problem with the unit. Heat pumps feature a defrost mode to protect the outdoor unit during the winter. A small amount of build up is not unusual. Abnormal buildup can indicate a refrigerant leak or other issues.
- Failure to Start and Short Cycles – Power issues or turning on and off frequently are clear signs that something in your system needs repair. This can be as simple as a loose connection. In fact, many heat pump repairs turn into thermostat calls for our technicians. As the brains of your system, a thermostat can mimic issues with all components in your HVAC system.
Call Thiele for Heat Pump Consultation
Whether you are searching for a new unit, need a tune-up or repair, Thiele is your source for heat pump consultation. We are thoroughly committed to our local community and take great pride in our customer service. Our support staff and technicians truly provide custom solutions for you. Whatever questions you may have, Thiele has the answer when it comes to heat pumps and all heating and cooling systems. When you contact our team, we will prove to you just how valuable your trust is.