Which Requires More Maintenance: A Furnace or Heat Pump?
It’s no doubt that heat pumps offer incredible benefits with superior efficiency. However, there are several aspects beyond efficiency to consider when installing a new heating system, including how much maintenance it will require. Discover why maintenance is important and the differences between maintaining a furnace and a heat pump.
Why Do HVAC Systems Require Maintenance?
The first thing to understand is why HVAC systems require maintenance in the first place. Whether you’re talking about a furnace, heat pump, or air conditioner, all of them require preventive maintenance.
There are three primary reasons your furnace or heat pump needs routine maintenance. The first is to maintain its operational efficiency, keeping down the utilities required to heat your home. The efficiency slowly erodes because of airflow restrictions that build up in the system, prolonging your heating cycles.
The second reason is to identify when things aren’t working optimally, which can cause strain on the system. Your system’s critical components are tested to confirm they are working within optimal specifications. If your technician finds something isn’t working properly, you have the opportunity to resolve the issue before it causes additional damage to other system components.
The final reason to get professional maintenance is to maintain your system’s manufacturer warranty. Many manufacturers stipulate maintenance as a term of their warranty because of the damage neglect can cause to a system.
Now that you understand why your system needs maintenance, let’s explore what happens during a maintenance visit. Let’s also explore how often you should plan to have your system maintained.
Dissecting Furnace Maintenance
Your technician will arrive with a predetermined series of steps to take during your furnace maintenance. One of the first things they’ll do is perform a deep cleaning of the system. This typically includes cleaning the heat exchanger, burners, and heat sensor. They’ll also clean and balance the circulating fan to ensure it can circulate the appropriate air volume.
Next, they’ll move on to testing the system. This includes testing voltage and current levels throughout the system. They’ll test the ignition system, the induction fan, the exhaust system, and the system’s controls. While testing, they run the furnace through an entire heating cycle to ensure everything initializes and shuts down appropriately.
Finally, they’ll inspect and tighten electrical connections and mounting hardware. They’ll also do a final check to ensure that there aren’t gas or carbon monoxide leaks.
Understanding Heat Pump Maintenance
Heat pump maintenance is similar to furnace maintenance, except that there aren’t any burner components to inspect. The cleaning will focus on the circulating fan wheel and the heat exchanger. They’ll also inspect the outside coil and clean it to ensure it can draw air effectively.
They’ll test the system, including the compressor, the condensing solenoid, and the contactor. Your system won’t run properly without the right amount of refrigerant, so they’ll also test this level to check for any possible leaks.
The unique part of the heat pump is the reversing valve, which allows it to switch between heating and cooling. They’ll test to ensure this valve is working properly, which is especially important to allow the system to run a defrost cycle when needed.
Your system has a fan in the outside unit and the circulating fan inside. Your technician will inspect both fans, tighten mounting hardware, check electrical connections, and also lubricate the fan motor if it isn’t a sealed motor.
Finally, they’ll check your auxiliary heater to ensure it’s working properly. This is an electric resistance coil unless you have a dual-fuel system, and your technician will ensure it warms up properly when activated.
How Often Do You Need Maintenance?
A furnace typically needs one professional maintenance visit each year, ideally conducted in the fall before the bitter cold winter settles in around Peoria. Keep in mind that you’ll also need a separate maintenance visit for your air conditioner in the spring.
Heat pumps need only one maintenance visit each year, either in the spring or in the fall. If you have indications that your system isn’t working as well as it should, you can always schedule a second maintenance visit, but this should be the exception rather than the rule.
Homeowners around Peoria have trusted Bratcher Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. to keep their homes comfortable for nearly 40 years. Our highly rated technicians provide air conditioning and heating installation, maintenance, and repair, along with indoor air quality and geothermal solutions. Call to schedule your furnace or heat pump maintenance with one of our NATE-certified technicians today.