Heat pumps provide an unrivaled heating and cooling system that is both energy efficient and cost-effective. But to function properly, your heat pump requires maintenance. A regular maintenance check will safeguard your equipment from wear and tear, while ensuring that your pump continues to operate at the highest level possible. 

This heat pump maintenance checklist will give you a full lowdown on what you need to know about protecting your heat pump and saving on heat pump maintenance costs

Why You Need Heat Pump Preventative Maintenance?

Like any heating and cooling technology, your heat pump system  is at risk of performance erosion without regular maintenance services. The last thing you need is your heat pump breaking down and costing you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. Heat pump preventative maintenance will not only protect your equipment from a potential mechanical failure, but also ensure that your system is operating at the highest level of efficiency.

There are various risks to your heat pump that can be avoided by checking your system on a regular basis, including a buildup of dirt and debris or environmental factors such as ice, snow, or vegetation compromising an outdoor unit.  

Furthermore, without preventative heat pump maintenance, your unit’s efficiency will suffer greatly. The Department of Energy estimates that an unmaintained heat pump service will increase energy consumption by 10-25%, having a drastic effect on your monthly electricity costs. To avoid this, there are several steps you can take to ensure that your unit continues to run at the highest possible level.

Do-it-yourself Heat Pump Preventative Maintenance Checklist

You can easily protect your heat pump from avoidable wear and tear by taking a few simple steps on your own: 

  1. Remove and clean your filters each month, or if necessary, replace your filters altogether.
  2. Check the fans and coils each month and clean them if there is any buildup of dirt or grime. 
  3. Clean the unit’s heating and cooling fins when dirty (you can use a vacuum cleaner)
  4. Inspect outdoor units in the winter for snow or ice. Defrost ice with hot water if there is a buildup.
  5. Inspect outdoor units for the presence of dirt or vegetation growing near or inside the unit and remove. Do this twice a year in the fall and spring. 
  6. Always follow your unit’s instruction manual and check that you are following its guidelines on thermostat operation. 

Following these simple maintenance recommendations will ensure that your system is operating at peak performance at all times. However, there are some heat pump maintenance requirements that demand professional attention. 

Professional Heat Pump Maintenance Checklist

Your unit should be professionally checked on a yearly basis by either your heat pump provider or a third-party maintenance professional. 

Your technician will be able to provide a more thorough level of service to your system and guarantee operational efficiency throughout the year. It is important to verify that your service provider is checking your equipment for everything on this preventative heat pump maintenance checklist. 

  • Check the unit for leaks (ducts and refrigerant)
  • Clean all ducts
  • Inspect the coils, filters, and blower, then clean them accordingly
  • Measure airflow, temperature delivery, and refrigerant charge
  • Check or replace all electrical wiring and ensure that electrical terminals retain proper coating
  • Examine the motor and belts, lubricate accordingly
  • Wash the drain line
  • Check the functionality of the thermostat, ensure that the system provides accurate heating and cooling temperatures
  • For performance furnace units, conduct an inspection of the gas furnace
  • Test the auxiliary strip 
  • Check the system controls on start-up and shut down for any issues
  • Take all necessary readings and measurements (subcooling and superheat)
  • Add refrigerant if necessary and check for leaks
  • Conduct a defrost cycle if needed
  • Check for any general damage to the unit 

Related: Commercial HVAC Installation and Repair: Everything You Need to Know

Outdoor Heat Pump Maintenance Considerations

Additionally, outdoor units require some additional attention during a professional check:

  1. Removal of any grime or dirt from base pan
  2. Inspect outdoor wiring and ensure that it is properly protected and insulated
  3. Check the unit’s fan blade for any outdoor obstruction or damage
  4. Double-check the temperature sensors on all outdoor units
  5. Check the surrounding area for any potential obstacles (vegetation or other environmental factors)

When having your unit professionally inspected, remember to ask questions about how to effectively maintain your unit. It is always useful to track any issues that come up when you are following the do-it-yourself (DIY) heat pump maintenance checklist and have your service provider explain any discrepancies in person. 

The Final Word of Heat Pump Preventative Maintenance

There is nothing worse than having your heat pump falter on a frosty winter night or scorching summer day. That is why it is essential to consistently verify the operational integrity of your unit and remedy any flaws. 

Replacing and installing a new heat pump can cost between $4,000 and $7,000. However, heat pumps can have a product life cycle of up to 50 years, if properly maintained. Avoid any issues with your pump by following this checklist and having your heat pump professionally checked on a regular basis. 

Sources:

Consumer.org. Heat Pump Maintenance

https://www.consumer.org.nz/articles/news-heat-pump-maintenance

Contracting Business. Don’t forget to perform winter maintenance on heat pumps. https://www.contractingbusiness.com/service/dont-forget-perform-winter-maintenance-heat-pumps

Department of Energy. Operating and Maintaining Your Heat Pump. https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/heat-and-cool/heat-pump-systems/operating-and-maintaining-your-heat-pump

Home Advisor. How much does a heat pump cost?. https://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/heating-and-cooling/install-a-heat-pump/