What Does It Cost to Miss a Heat Pump Service?

The popularity of heat pumps and the grants available with which to purchase them (ask Sally about the grants if you haven’t already) are well known.  What’s less known, is the maintenance aspect.  Just like so many things that produce comfort in our world – the coffee maker, the Tesla, the gas fireplace – the heat pump / air conditioner needs maintenance too! 

As a piece of electrical equipment, the maintenance doesn’t rely so much on the efficiency of the burn and safety from the carbon monoxide emissions like your gas fired furnace or boiler, but more on the internal workings.  Make no mistake though, lack of maintenance can affect efficiency – some say between 10 and 25% – and with the cost of electricity being significantly higher than the cost of natural gas, that can really add up. 

So, what will we do and what problem will it prevent?  

There is a full and detailed list on the Carrier website if you feel like some bedtime reading, but if you’re just trying to decide what to spend your hard-earned money on, let me offer a recap.

Our heat pump service appointments are generally booked for two hours to account for service to both the outdoor and indoor units (mini split heads, air handler, furnace, indoor condenser).  The basics of what we do are not too different – cleaning, checking, testing, adjusting.  And if you want to know the benefits, read on. 

Heat pump issues that we commonly see

Heat Pump Frozen

Causes can be as simple as water dripping onto the unit and freezing or as complicated as the defrost system not working properly.  Either way we’ve all seen what freezing water does to a beer – and beer is cheap.  Prevention might be gained through testing the defrost cycle, or cleaning the coils, or making sure the fan is working well, or ensuring there isn’t low refrigerant. 

Running constantly

This is when the heat pump can’t keep up with the demand for heat / cooling.  This can be prevented by keeping the compressors, coils and air filters clean, as well as ensuring that any leaks are addressed, and the coolant is topped up.  – BTW, keeping the coolant topped up is not like you do in a car.  This is a pressurized system with R410 refrigerant that can’t be expelled into the atmosphere, so keeping it contained is essential (and protects you and the environment as well). 

Blowing cold air while in heating mode 

This can also be prevented by ensuring refrigerant is topped up, with regular maintenance and cleaning that dirty or clogged coil.

Now at R&B we’re completely supportive of any DIY heating repair that you can perform on your heat pump in accordance with manufacturers’ recommendations before you call us, and again if you’re the handy type, you may want to try some of these ‘easy fix’ solutions first. 

So, taking those top three issues, here’s what you could try. 

Heat Pump Frozen

If excess water is dripping onto the unit from full gutters, and the defrost can’t keep up, you can take care of that with the gutter cleaned and repaired or by diverting it. Remember not to chip off the ice from the unit – that temptation will not be rewarding!

Running constantly

If you aren’t getting heat indoors but the unit is running outdoors, you can check the breaker, but that’s about it.  Everything else to do with the indoor and outdoor units will need to be completed by licensed and certified technicians. 

Blowing cold air while in heating mode 

Check it’s not in a/c mode, check to see that nothing has fallen on or otherwise blocked airflow on the outside unit, and you can try to clean and replace the air filter. 

When to call an expert?

Ideally, we want you to call us every year to do the annual maintenance.  After that, it’s time to call an R&B expert when you hear noises that are not normal, you see error codes or warnings on your thermostat, or if you’ve tried all that you can – or want to, and if you simply have no heating or cooling.   We’re here to help.