What is a heat pump and how does it work?

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps are a part of the central HVAC system, using outside air to heat and cool your home.

Your heat pump is a refrigeration system that works to compress and decompress refrigerant, and can be reversed to cool or heat a designated space. In Durham, a heat pump installation requires two main parts: the air handler, which is an indoor unit, and the heat pump, which is the outdoor unit that is similar to a central AC. The compressor circulates refrigerant while it absorbs and releases heat, during the circulation between the outdoor and indoor units. This is similar to the process that your refrigerator goes through, pulling heat from the indoor air and sending it outside of the unit. When it is time for a heat pump repair in Durham, Boer Brothers Heating and Cooling has expert knowledge and experience with heat pumps and will perform the repair efficiently and thoroughly.

A Heat Pump Transports Warm Air

Your heat pump transports warm air from one area to another, to where it is needed the most or where it is not needed, depending on the season. Heat energy is always present, even in cold air. The outdoor cold air gets sent through the heat pump, transferring it into warm indoor air. In the spring and summer, the warm indoor air is removed from your home and transferred outside, serving as an air conditioner. Heat pumps can reverse the direction of the air transfer, depending on your home’s heating or cooling needs. When you need a new Durham heat pump installation, contact Boer Brothers Heating and Cooling for high quality service and excellent work.

Heat Pumps Have Great Energy Efficiency

By moving heat instead of generating it, you have more energy efficiency than an older heating system. It is better for the environment since it is powered by electricity, saving you money on the fuel consumption in your home.

Heating efficiency for heat pumps is measured by an HSPF (heating season performance factor) rating. The HSPF rating is a measurement of the space that heating is required during the heating season. First measured in BTU, it is divided by the electrical energy used during the same season by the heat pump, as a watt-hours measurement.

Cooling efficiency with heat pumps is measured by a SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) rating. The total amount of heat that is removed from the cooling space during the cooling season is measured in a BTU. Then, it is divided by the total amount of electricity watt-hours used. A measurement of 15 SEER indicates that the heat pump is a high efficiency unit.

Heat Pump Uses

Recommended for moderate climates, heat pumps provide an affordable and energy efficient option for homeowners. A supplemental heating source could be necessary in areas with consistently lower temperatures. Attachable heat strips are on most heat pumps to keep indoor air temperatures comfortable on very cold days. A furnace can also be set to switch on for extremely cold days.

An excellent home comfort solution, Boer Brothers installs and maintains heat pumps more than any other heating system since they have high efficiency levels, bringing more cost savings to you, and they are quiet and constructed with high quality materials and parts. The initial installation for a larger, higher efficiency heat pump may be more expensive than others, however it uses fewer resources to maintain the comfortable indoor temperature, so it is usually the best option in the long run.

When a Heat Pump Repair in Durham is needed (Common Problems with Heat Pumps)

First, check the power. If it is “on”, it could be one of the following:

  • Defective breaker
  • Burned wire at disconnect
  • Bad contractor
  • Issue with the Thermostat
  • Transformer problem
  • Short in low voltage wire

If your circuit breaker is tripping every time or sometimes when the unit comes on, it could mean the following:

  • Weak breaker
  • Grounded compressor
  • A shorted out condenser fan motor
  • Bad capacitor

If the outside unit is humming but the fan is not running:

  • Fan motor has malfunctioned
  • Burned out wire at the contractor
  • Defective capacitor

The outside fan runs but the compressor does not work:

  • Shorted wire at compressor
  • Compressor may be out on internal overload

Possible repairs include:

  • Adjustment to refrigerant charge
  • Cleaning condenser coil
  • Checking the capacitor

Keep in mind that the worst case scenario is an internal compressor failure, which requires a complete replacement of the compressor.

Other causes for repair:

  • Hard start relay added
  • Defective high pressure switch

If your heat pump turns into a solid block of ice on the hottest days of the summer season, the following conditions could have occurred with your heat pump, requiring a heat pump repair in Durham:

  • Refrigerant is low
  • Defrost timer is either bad or badly set
  • Fan motor malfunctioned
  • Dirty air filter stopped the air from transferring heat.
  • Evaporator coil is dirty, blocking airflow of heated air.

If your vents are blowing cold air during the winter, these problems may have occurred with your heat pump:

  • Reversing valve is defective
  • Refrigerant is low
  • Outside unit for the heat pump has stopped working, and the inside unit of the system is running, pulling cold, outdoor air into your home.

If the emergency heat does not work, the following may have happened:

  • Heat strips have burned out
  • Limit switches need to be replaced
  • Thermostat is no longer working
  • No power to your air handler inside of your home

If the outdoor unit runs constantly, there are a few things that may have caused the problem:

  • Low refrigerant level
  • Air leaks in ducts, pulling air from the crawl space or attic
  • A thermostat problem

If the indoor fan does not come on, but the outdoor unit is running as usual, you may have one of the following issues:

  • Defective blower motor
  • Capacitor that is not operating
  • Extremely dirty evaporator
  • Best case scenario? A dirty filter needs to be replaced.

If there are hot or cold spots in your home, the following may explain the problem:

  • Dampers were not installed in the heat pump system
  • Dampers are installed, but not adjusted for the correct air balance
  • Ductwork may not be configured or installed correctly
  • Unit may not be sized properly for your home.

Since it is vital to have your Durham heat pump installation done by a qualified professional, we recommend calling Boer Brothers Heating and Cooling to ensure a correct, comprehensive installation with the right system for your heating and cooling space.