Heat pump maintenance: a checklist

Regular heat pump maintenance allows it to work more efficiently and use less energy.

Heat pump maintenance by mbschn on FlickrYour heat pump is one of your home's hardest-working components. As such, it requires proper care and maintenance in order to work at its optimal best.

Timely and regular heat pump maintenance not only helps keep your heat pump working like it should, but it also allows it to work more efficiently and use less energy.

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Moreover, maintaining your heat pump appropriately can extend the service life of your expensive heat pump. Having a heat pump checklist for maintenance is a smart move. 

If you decide to undertake the maintenance of your heat pump on your own, be sure to power the unit off before attempting any cleaning or other tasks. Many people are uncomfortable with any type of maintenance beyond changing the heat pump's filter, or might be unsure how to troubleshoot a split system. If that's the case, hire a contractor.

No. 1: Change out the filter

One of the most simple and routine parts of heat pump maintenance is changing your heat pump's filter. Refer to the owner's manual shipped with your heat pump to determine a schedule for changing the filter.

Changing it once a month is a good rule of thumb. This is especially true during the months of the year when your heating and cooling system is used the most. You can change the filter more often if the need arises.

Changing the heat pump's filter can stave off numerous heat pump problems.

No. 2: Clean coils and fans

Some of the most common issues with heat pumps arise when the coils or fans of the unit are allowed to get dusty or dirty. Vacuuming or brushing these areas can help the unit to run more efficiently.

If the unit's indoor coils can be reached, clean and check them often. While doing so, you can also clean the trap, condensation pan and the unit's drain.  Always check with the owner's manual to make sure this heat pump maintenance step is recommended for your particular heat pump.

Keep in mind that doing certain repairs on your own can void your heat pump's warranty.

No. 3: Oil the motor

Check your unit's owner's manual to see if the manufacturer recommends oiling the heat pump's motor. Many manufacturers do. Although most motors have sealed bearings, it's likely you can oil the fan motor and fan from time to time to keep it running like it should.

Generally, if the motor has ports for adding oil, you can add a bead or two of the recommended oil to those ports as part of biannual heat pump maintenance to keep the motor running like the fine-tuned machine it is.

If you aren't comfortable doing your own maintenance or need advice on how to choose a heat pump, find a local HVAC contractor or cooling service in your area. An HVAC contractor can give you a heat pump estimate to replace a heat pump, check your heat pump, and provide heat pump maintenance to make sure it's ready for the season.

Photo credit: mbschn via Compfight CC.

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