Heat Pump Service Needs are Different than an AC or Furnace

Heat pump maintenance is a confusing subject for many Inland Empire, CA homeowners. Because it’s not a furnace, and not an air conditioner, what heat pump maintenance schedules are you supposed to follow? 

Sanborn’s Air Conditioning & Heating is here to help uncover the heat pump maintenance requirements your system needs. First, we explain how a heat pump differs from the other common types of HVAC systems, and share the heat pump maintenance requirements you need to stick to for best performance and system efficiency.

What is a Heat Pump and How Do Heat Pumps Work?

Furnaces heat, air conditioners cool – but heat pumps do both! Unlike a furnace which creates heat, a heat pump keeps your home warm through the transfer of heat. Heat pumps extract heat from the outdoor air and pump it into your home to raise indoor temperatures. They do not combust fuel to make heat. 

During really cold weather, heat pumps have a backup method called heat strips. Powered by electricity, heat strips heat up and warm air as it passes over them. In many climates, they’re rarely needed but helpful during extreme lows or multiple days of low temperatures.

Air conditioners and heat pumps actually operate in the same manner for cooling – they transfer heat. Air handlers extract heat and moisture from indoor areas and send it outside so the home stays cool. 

The difference between air conditioners and heat pumps is heat pumps also operate in reverse to heat a home. Homes equipped with an air conditioner require a furnace or ductless heat pumps to provide heating.

How to Determine if You Have a Heat Pump

Not sure if your house has a heat pump or an AC/furnace combination? Here’s how to tell. 

  1. Schedule a tune up and ask your technician when he or she is there.
  2. When you run the heat, does the outdoor unit come on? If so, then yes. 
  3. Look on the unit for a label or serial number. Google it. 

When to Schedule Heat Pump Maintenance

The general rule for professional HVAC maintenance is once for heating season and once for cooling season. In homes with a furnace and an air conditioner, we recommend a furnace tune up in the fall, and the air conditioner is tuned up in the spring prior to cooling season. Each system needs one tune up per year.

What about heat pump maintenance? Because these systems function as both heating and cooling systems, preventive maintenance involves two annual tune ups for the equipment – one for heating season, and one for cooling season. 

It’s the same amount of professional tune ups as a furnace and air conditioning combo receive, except both are performed on the heat pump. Because heat pumps function all year round, they need more attention.

DIY Heat Pump Maintenance

During your spring and fall heat pump maintenance visits, your HVAC technician performs a detailed tune up for your system. This involves testing of components and controls, cleaning, adjustments, and more. 

Between your professional preventive maintenance visits, there are several steps Inland Empire homeowners need to take to keep heat pumps running at their best. Your DIY heat pump maintenance steps include:

1. Heat Pump DIY – Air filter changes

Check it monthly and change filters according to the manufacturer’s recommended schedule. It may be necessary to change your filter early when heating or cooling season is in full swing. 

2. Heat Pump DIY – Condensate drain checks

Check your heat pump’s condensate drain system monthly for clogs. Inspect the drip pan for clogs as well as the condensate drain line. If you notice water around the indoor unit there could be a clog or other problem.

3. Heat Pump DIY – Clear exterior unit

Clean off grass clippings and yard debris around your heat pump’s exterior. Yard waste and invasive plants limit airflow through the unit. Clear away any vegetation growing nearby. Keep at least two feet of clearance surrounding your outdoor unit for proper airflow and accessibility. Do not store outdoor items up against the unit.

Schedule Heat Pump Maintenance with Sanborn’s

Sanborn’s is your trusted Inland Empire heat pump maintenance pro! We provide the professional tune ups heat pump systems need to run efficiently through all four seasons. 

Think you’re ready for an upgrade? HVAC technology easily beats the energy efficiency of even ten years ago. We’re happy to provide a free estimate for a new system. Give us a call for a personal visit and HVAC evaluation. 

Schedule heat pump maintenance today and get your system in top shape for the coming heating season – call us now!