If you’re seeking to upgrade your current HVAC system, you might want to consider a heat pump. In addition to its reliable performance, it can also effectively improve your home’s energy efficiency. This type of HVAC system utilizes electricity to move heat from a cool space to a warm one. Considered to be more efficient than resistive heaters, it can ensure consistent indoor comfort at a quarter of the cost of running a typical heating or cooling system.
Investing in a heat pump, whether it’s an air source or ductless mini-split type, is a big undertaking. As such, you want to cover all your bases, including its installation. If properly and efficiently installed, you can expect it to provide exceptional home heating and cooling. Otherwise, various issues may arise that will compromise your home’s comfort and energy efficiency.
Today, local heating and air conditioning replacement contractor Air Products & Services takes a look at three of the most common heat pump installation mistakes and the problems that can arise from each one.
The Wrong Size of Furnace
When it comes to heat pumps and other HVAC systems, size is a big deal. Choosing one that isn’t the ideal size for your home can result in some serious consequences. If it’s too large, expect the unit to experience short or rapid cycling, which puts too much stress on the blower motor. If it’s too small, it won’t turn on and off intermittently but will instead be allowed to run for hours in order to reach the desired indoor temperature, using up excess energy,
In other words, an incorrectly-sized heat pump won’t heat or cool your home adequately, resulting in uneven indoor temperatures and uncomfortable humidity levels. This inefficient operation can also cost you in the long run. Along with an increase in your energy bills, the wrong heat pump size can lead to sudden breakdowns. The blower motor will eventually fail, creating a domino effect that also affects the rest of the heat pump’s internal components. Frequent repairs will be required until you reach a point where you have to replace the entire unit early in its lifespan.
To make sure you get the correct size of heat pump for your home, you have to work with a reputable heating and AC repair contractor. With the expertise of certified HVAC technicians, they’ll take a look at your home and current system and give you the best recommendation for a replacement unit. They’ll visit your home and take a look at each room to help determine how much conditioned air each one needs for both heating and cooling.
They usually take certain factors into account when determining the right heat pump size. These include, but aren’t limited to:
- Local climate (number of days you need active heating and cooling every year)
- Your home’s square footage
- Windows (How many are there? Where are they located?)
- Insulation (How much is there in your home? Does it meet the efficiency rating in your region?)
- Number of people in your household and their temperature preferences
- Appliances in your home that generate heat
Other things to consider when choosing a heat pump is energy efficiency ratings like SEER and HSPF, as well as the type of blower motor and compressor. Looking at these factors allows you to select the best heat pump unit that will help you save on monthly operating costs during its service life.
Lack of proper clearance. Another mistake associated with poor heat pump installations is a disregard for proper clearance for the outdoor unit. Called the condenser unit (or the evaporator if the heat pump is in heating mode), this important component must have adequate space to allow for airflow so it can draw heated air into it and across the refrigerant coils. Several issues may arise if this isn’t considered during installation.
Without the benefit of proper clearance, the outdoor unit has to work harder to draw out sufficient heat. This can cost you in the long run, especially during the summer when the equipment runs the risk of exceeding the normal operating temperature. As it runs hotter, its efficiency is slowly reduced, shortening its lifespan. Worst of all, damage is more likely to occur because of its proximity to dust, debris and other things that may enter the outdoor unit.
Ideally, the distance between the outdoor unit and anything that might obstruct airflow—fences, greenery, the side of the house, etc.—should be at least 24 inches. Outdoor items that come closer than the recommended measurement can decrease airflow toward the outdoor unit by one-third. So, to ensure the heat pump’s efficient operation and prevent it from getting damaged, see to it that the surrounding plants and shrubs are properly trimmed, keeping the 24-inch clearance in mind. Also, make it a habit to keep the area where the outdoor unit is located free from obstructions.
Improper refrigerant charge. Refrigerant-related issues may also occur because of poor heat pump installation. If a unit is low on refrigerant, this indicates that the installers might not have put enough in it. Leaks around the seals where the refrigerant lines connect to other components might also be apparent because of improper installation techniques.
In either situation, the heat pump is placed under more stress, particularly at the compressor. This can lead to a significant increase in electrical costs. Also, low refrigerant levels prevent the evaporator coil from absorbing heat, causing moisture to freeze. The problem cannot be fixed just by scraping the ice off or allowing it to melt; your HVAC contractor has to take a look at the heat pump to check for leaks and/or add more refrigerant.
What if there’s too much refrigerant inside the heat pump? This, unfortunately, can also lead to improper operation. In some cases, excess refrigerant can even damage the compressor. In addition, the evaporator coil won’t accumulate ice, but it won’t get cool, either. Certified HVAC technicians will have to take a look at the heat pump unit to test it and adjust the refrigerant charge if needed.
Working with qualified, experienced HVAC installers is essential when investing in a heat pump or any heating and cooling equipment. This gives you peace of mind knowing that your new unit is installed correctly the first time. From there, you can enjoy better comfort, reduced service costs and an extended service life for your heat pump.
For your heating and AC troubleshooting system needs, turn to Air Products & Services. We offer comprehensive heating and cooling services, including everything from replacing your old system to regular maintenance. Expect us to provide high-quality indoor comfort when you need it. Give us a call today at (818) 989-2030 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment. We serve homeowners in Tarzana, CA, and the surrounding communities.