Heat Pump Maintanance & Electric Heating

A properly maintained heating system will ensure your comfort in the winter.

Heat Pump Maintanance

A heat pump maintains a constant, comfortable temperature in your home without the need for thermostat adjustment.

The unit will draw heat from the warm air inside the house during the summer and exhaust the heat to the cooler air outside During the colder months, a heat pump will automatically reverse itself and draw heat from the outdoor air to warm the inside of your house. The operation of a heat pump is most noticeable during the spring and fall months, when the temperature in the morning or evening is quite low, yet the afternoon temperature climbs quite high. By setting your thermostat at the desired temperature, the heat pump will automatically adjust itself to either heat or cool the inside air to maintain a constant temperature reading.

A heat pump has an indoor coil, an outdoor coil and a compressor. To keep your house cool in the warm weather, the indoor coil removes the heat from the indoor air and passes it to the compressor, which exhausts the warm air outdoors. In cold weather, a reversing valve automatically reverses the procedure, so that heat is removed from the outside air and transferred into the house.

When the outdoor temperature reaches freezing, the outdoor coil can develop frost. Water vapor from the air will condense on the coil and freeze. The ice will prevent the coil from picking up enough warmth from the outside air for transfer into the house. A properly functioning heat pump will automatically defrost itself by switching to the cooling mode, transferring warm air from the house to defrost the coil then switching back to the heating mode. While in the cooling mode, the heat pump will switch to a supplementary electric heating system inside the house to Keep warm air inside. This supplementary system will work continuously until the coil is defrosted. A regular check of the outside coil is therefore necessary to ensure that the supplementary system is not running continuously but only for the duration of the defrosting action.

The outside coil should show frost when outside temperatures are below freezing. If it remains warm and dry, that could mean the defrosting action is continuous and the heat pump is constantly working on supplementary heat. Call a serviceman for repair.

If, however, ice is constant on the coil, the defrosting action is not taking place. Adjust the thermostat lower to put the heat pump into the cooling mode, which will bring the warm inside air out to defrost the coil. After about 10 minutes, turn the thermostat back up to ensure a minimal loss of heat from the inside. You may need to follow this cycle for about an hour before the coil defrosts. If the coil doesn’t defrost within an hour, call a serviceman.
If the unit defrosts but immediately ices up again, you may need to clean the sensing bulb or tube.

Some heat pumps have a sensing bulb or thermostat at the end of a copper tube clamped to the edge of the outside coil or found inside a sleeve attached to a refrigerant pipe. When the coil temperature reaches freezing, this thermostat switches the unit to defrost. Corrosion or dirt can prevent the thermostat from working properly. Clean the bulb and sleeve of dirt, and sand off any corrosion.

In place of the sensing bulb, other heat pumps have an air-flow sensing tube. As the heat Dump fan sucks air through the tube, the defrost switch is kept open. When ice builds up on the coil, blocking the flow of air through the tube, the switch closes, putting the unit into the defrost mode. Dirt build-up can prevent the switch from closing, which means the defrost mode cannot be activated. Keep the tube clean for proper operation.

Electric heating

A well-insulated house can operate on clean electric heat with few maintenance bills and a somewhat constant supply of fuel. However, the cost of heating with electricity tends to be higher than the cost of heating with gas or oil.

Electric heat is simply a current passing through an electricity-resistant conductor. As the current passes through, the conductor heats up, warming the air in the room. There’s no combustion necessary and no need for a chimney.

Baseboard heaters are the most popular form of residential electric heating. Heating elements, concealed in thin metal casing, are mounted along the perimeter of a room in place of baseboards. The baseboard heaters are usually wired into individual room thermostats so that you can control the heat in each room.

There are two other types of electric heating without a furnace — the wall heater and radiant ceilings.

The wall heater is a panel usually equipped with a fan to circulate the room air, and is mounted between studs to provide supplementary heating to special areas such as bathrooms or entryways.

A radiant ceiling is a grid of electrical elements imbedded in ceiling panels or plaster. A current passes through the elements, forcing heat down into the rooms below.

The electric furnace has a series of heating elements that take the place of the burner in gas or oil furnaces. A current runs through the elements, which give off heat. The heat is then forced through the house by a blower fan. No chimney is necessary, since electric heat does not give off gases. And since no chimney is necessary and the units are small, they can be installed almost anywhere in the house, including closets.

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