A heat-pump system is literally that — a system that transfers, or “pumps” heat. In winter, it pulls the heat available in outside air into the system and sends it inside, where it’s distributed through your ducting. In summer, the cycle reverses and the heat-pump system pumps your inside heat outdoors. Because the heat pump doesn’t generate heat, but only moves it, it is an energy-efficient system.
A few major parts of a standard heat-pump system and what they do:
- Refrigerant. The refrigerant is the key to moving heat. In the winter, the outdoors portion of your heat-pump system uses a fan to pull in air over a set of refrigerant-filled coils. The refrigerant absorbs the heat. As the refrigerant heats up, it turns from a liquid into a gas.
- Compressor. As the refrigerant expands, this component compresses the gas and makes it even hotter. Then the hot gas is pumped to the coils inside the home. At this stage, the refrigerant releases the heat, which is blown into the ducts by an air handler or fan.
- Condenser coils. After the refrigerant releases the heat, it moves back through the tubing to the outside, where it’s transformed back into the liquid form again.
Keeping everything inside the heat-pump system clean and well-tuned is important to its efficiency. Dirt on the coils reduces their ability to transfer heat. Refrigerant must be maintained at proper levels. It’s also important that your conditioned-air delivery system — i.e., your ductwork and its associated grilles and vents — remain tightly sealed, well insulated and free of obstructions.
Regular preventive maintenance keeps heat pumps working at peak efficiency. If you have questions about your system or need to schedule a service check, contact the professional technicians at P.K. Wadsworth Heating & Cooling. Take care of your heat pump’s components, and they’ll take care of you.