Like air conditioners and furnaces, heat pumps need professional maintenance at least once each year. If you use your heat pump to both heat and cool your San Antonio, TX home, you should have it tuned up twice annually. With diligent maintenance, you can ensure even and consistent air delivery, optimum levels of efficiency, and healthy indoor air quality. Read on to find out all that routine heat pump maintenance commonly entails.

HVAC Air Filter Replacement

Professional heat pump maintenance typically starts with a filter inspection and replacement. During this process, we can show you where your HVAC air filter is located, how to take it out, and how to put a new one in. According to the United States Department of Energy (DOE), this simple HVAC maintenance task could increase heat pump efficiency levels by as much as 15%.

Although your technician will perform this task during each annual or twice-annual maintenance service, you should do the same about every 30 to 90 days. To ensure that built-up filter debris never becomes too dense, you should take your air filter out and hold it up to the overhead light once each month. When light can no longer pass through a filter’s mesh, air can no longer move through it, either.

Annual maintenance is also a great time to ask about filter upgrades if you’re interested in improving your indoor air quality (IAQ). Air filters with higher maximum efficiency reporting value (MERV) ratings can extract more allergens and other contaminants than standard air filters can. However, given their tighter, denser mesh, they also impact airflow in the process. You can work with us to optimize both airflow and filter performance before the high-demand heating and cooling seasons.

Clear and Clean the Condensate Drain

Your heat pump regulates both temperature and humidity. While it shouldn’t add moisture to your indoor air, it regularly extracts it during operation. This moisture is routed down your heat pump’s condensate drain line, into or past a drain pan, and out of a connected drain into your backyard or side yard.

During extended periods of dormancy, condensate drains and drain lines can develop thick algal blooms. In addition to algae, drain lines may have sludgy biofilm from fast-breeding bacteria. These buildups lead to noisy heat pump operation, unpleasant odors, and unhealthy increases in indoor humidity. Clogged condensate drains can also lead to pooling water if drain pans overflow.

We clean and sanitize these features to keep condensate moving in the right direction. Not only does this ensure quiet, odor-free operation, but it also promotes optimum comfort and efficiency.

Caring for the Outdoor Condenser Unit

Like air conditioners, heat pumps have both indoor air handlers and outdoor condenser units. Installed on level concrete or composite pads, condensers house heat pump compressors, blower motors and blower fans, condenser coils, and other important components.

All HVAC condensers require at least 2 feet of clearance on all sides. Unfortunately, their outdoor locations make them prone to blockages caused by fast-growing grasses, trees, shrubs, weeds, and windblown debris. Cutting encroaching landscaping elements back will allow for unhindered heat release. This minimizes the likelihood of problems like overheating and short cycling.

As with your HVAC air filter, we’ll take care of cleanup around this unit during service, but you’ll need to keep your condenser clear in between appointments. You can do so by checking its perimeter each month when inspecting your air filter. It takes just minutes to remove debris from this area, and doing so can save you hundreds in otherwise avoidable heat pump repairs.

Blower Motor and Blower Fan Maintenance

Your heat pump’s blower motor drives its blower fan, which in turn pushes air throughout your HVAC system. Some heat pumps have blower motors in their indoor air handlers, most have them in their outdoor condenser units, and some have blower motors in both locations. Irrespective of where yours are located, we’ll look for loose or worn bearings, missing components, evidence of advanced wear, and bent or broken fan blades. We’ll lubricate all moving parts, tighten loose connections, and make fan belt and other adjustments as needed. Professional blower motor and blower fan maintenance can extend the life span of your heat pump and reduce your overall heating and cooling costs.

Condenser Coil Cleaning

Heat pumps heat and cool building interiors by transferring heat. In summer, they move indoor heat outside, and in winter, they source heat from the outdoor air and bring it in. Your heat pump’s condenser coil plays an important role in this process. When hot refrigerant rushes to this component, its heat is shed, and excess moisture condenses.

Buildups of dirt and debris on the condenser coil inhibit heat release to negatively impact the entire heating or cooling cycle. The refrigerant within dirty coils has a much harder time moving between a liquid and vapor state, and it might not get cold enough to absorb heat from the indoor air. Having a dirty condenser coil can lead to the distribution of warm air during cooling cycles and leave you with a muggy, oppressive living environment. We use special coil cleaning solutions and tools to eliminate buildups of dirt and other grime without impacting the integrity of delicate coil fins or coils themselves.

Verify the Integrity and Stability of the Condenser’s Pad

The compressors in heat pump condensers are highly pressurized. For safe and efficient operation, condensers should always be on stable, level ground. During annual maintenance, we look for problems with soil erosion or compaction and other adverse grading or landscape changes. If necessary, we bolster and adjust condensers’ supporting pads to level them. This prevents both refrigerant and lubricant from becoming trapped in your heat pump’s tubing.

Inspect the Reversing Valve

When used for year-round operation, heat pumps automatically switch from heating to cooling when outside temperatures plummet or soar. Their reversing valves automate the transition between different modes. We make sure that these components aren’t stuck and that they aren’t affected by slow and hidden refrigerant leaks.

While heat pumps are functionally identical to central ACs in summer, they have a much more complex arrangement of parts to support their dual functionality. The reversing valve is but one of several of these.

Indoor Air Handler Maintenance

The indoor air handling unit houses your heat pump’s evaporator coil and other components. The evaporator coil holds icy refrigerant that absorbs heat from warm, indoor air. Much like dirty condenser coils, dirty evaporator coils cannot transfer heat effectively. We clean indoor air handlers both inside and out and treat their evaporator coils with the same specialized tools and coil cleaning solutions that we use outdoors. We also tighten loose connections and replace worn parts.

Refrigerant Line Maintenance and Leak Checks

We test refrigerant levels during these visits to identify leaks and ensure that heat pumps haven’t been overcharged. We also look for pooling refrigerant and buildups of light-brown bubbles on evaporator coils.

Thermostat Calibration

Your thermostat governs all of your heat pump’s activity. We’ll make sure that this component is located in a neutral, central area where it isn’t affected by nearby heat-generating appliances or sunlit windows. We’ll also test and calibrate your thermostat to ensure that it’s reading your indoor temperature accurately.

Check the HVAC Air Ducts

All annual HVAC tune-up services include a quick review of HVAC air ducts and their integrity. We look for leaks, loose connections, built-up debris and structural damage that might impede airflow. However, these assessments don’t constitute annual duct maintenance. If you haven’t scheduled an appointment for professional duct maintenance service in more than 12 months, you should do so before the next peak heating or cooling season arrives.

We help residents of San Antonio, TX optimize their home comfort. We’ve been proudly serving the region since 1985 with top-notch air conditioning and heating services. To schedule heat pump maintenance or find out about our cutting-edge IAQ accessories or preventative maintenance plans, get in touch with Cowboys Air Conditioning & Heating today.

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