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December 2, 2016

An Introduction to Heat Pumps

Gold Star technicians are experts in all New Castle County heating systems, from natural gas furnaces to heat pumps. If your home has a heat pump, you may have initially confused its components for an air conditioning unit. That is because a heat pump operates as both a heating and a cooling unit and consists of two parts: an indoor unit (called an air handler) and an outdoor unit (which is similar to the outdoor unit of a central AC system).

How do Heat Pumps Work?

A heat pump uses the outside air to heat your home in winter and cool it in the summer. This may seem counter-intuitive, but the best way to think of a heat pump is as a heat transporter, moving warm air from one place to another. At its heart, a heat pump contains a compressor that circulates refrigerant. The refrigerant absorbs and releases heat as it travels between the indoor and outdoor units.

Even in seemingly cold air, heat energy is present, and it is this outside heat that a New Castle County heat pump extracts and brings inside. When the weather becomes warm, a switch of the thermostat reverses the heat pump and draws the heat from your home, thereby acting as an air conditioner.

Since heat pumps move heat rather than generating it, they are often more energy efficient. They also run off of electricity, saving you on fuel costs. They are most effective in moderate climates, however, and a supplemental heating source may be necessary when temperatures dip below 35 degrees.

Heat Pumps and Cold Weather

Once the outside temperature drops below 35 degrees, even a well-maintained New Castle County heat pump will lose efficiency and be unable to keep up with the heat loss of your home. This is when supplemental heat (usually in the form of electric resistance heaters) will kick in to assist the heat pump. When the temperature in your home dips two degrees below your desired temperature, the supplemental heat turns on to bring your home back up to temperature, then shuts off.

If the outside temperature is above 35 degrees but your heat pump cannot reach your desired temperature, it could indicate a problem with your heat pump. Possible problems include:

  • Thermostat is faulty or not calibrated correctly
  • A refrigerant problem – low levels, line restriction, or bad metering device
  • Unit needs to be cleaned and serviced
  • The reversing or compressor valves have gone bad
  • Compressor failure
  • Outdoor unit is iced-up

Consult the #1 Heating Repair Company in New Castle County

Whether your furnace is making a loud noise or your heat pump is blowing cold air, New Castle County’s heating experts are here to help. From emergency repairs to routine maintenance, Gold Star is New Castle County’s go-to HVAC company. You can reach us anytime at 1-302-485-1649.

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