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What's a Heat Pump System and How Does It Work?

How does your furnace turn cold air into warm air? And how does your A/C keep you cool? It's not magic. It's science! The conversion of warm air into cold air (and vice versa) wouldn't happen without the help of a heat pump system.

What's a heat pump system, and how do you keep it running? Here's what homeowners need to know.

What's a Heat Pump System?

A heat pump is a device that transfers heat between two places. Although they're staples of heating and cooling systems, heat pumps are the core technology behind other household appliances, like your refrigerator and freezer. In the case of a refrigerator, the heat pump works on 'cooling mode.

How Does a Heat Pump Work?

A heat pump works by harnessing the cycle of evaporation and condensation to transfer heat.

The process begins when a compression sends a chemical refrigerant between the two coils. In the first coil, the refrigerant evaporates and absorbs heat. Then, the refrigerant travels in its compressed form to the second heat exchanger coil. It then condenses at a higher pressure, and the coil releases the heat.

As we said earlier, your refrigerator is an example of a heat pump system working on cooling mode. The system still works because the heat pump cycle is reversible: it can heat during the winter and cool the air when summer arrives.

Where does the heat come from? Home heat pumps are either air-source or ground-source (geothermal). Air-source heat pumps absorb or reject heat from the air depending on the season. A ground-source pump does the same thing using heat from the ground or even groundwater. Ground-source heat pumps are increasingly common

What Kind of Maintenance Do Heat Pumps Need?

Heat pumps are electrical systems that need regular maintenance to continue operating at their full capacity.

To help keep your heating and cooling system running, you must:

  • Clean the coils
  • Check refrigerant levels
  • Inspect the electricals
  • Ensure the controls operate correctly

The good news is that checking your heat pump is part of your annual HVAC inspection, so you don't need a separate appointment just to check that component.

Maintaining your heat pump is critical for the operation of your HVAC system, Identifying issues early makes it simpler to solve them. Some of the common heat pump issues include:

  • Sudden loss of heat
  • Incorrect cycling
  • Making strange noises

If you let these go on too long, they can break the heat pump. Typically, if you need to replace your heat pump, you must replace the entire system, including both the outdoor condensing unit and the coil in your furnace.

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Regular Heat Pump Maintenance is Key

What's a heat pump system? It's the key to heating and cooling. A heat pump uses evaporation and condensation to transfer heat, so you can stay comfortable throughout the year.

Servicing your heat pump with your HVAC system will identify issues early and prevent them from becoming catastrophic. When was the last time you had your heating and cooling system checked? Schedule your next maintenance appointment with 1-800-Plumber. Our name is our number! Click here to find your local 1-800-Plumber.

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