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How will I know when it’s time to replace my Heat Pump?

When the system starts giving you more problems than seem cost-effective to fix. If the system is 10 years or older its time to start preparing to look at some of your upgrade options. After the 10 year marker many of the major heat pump components such as the compressor, reversing valve, accumulator or outdoor coil begin to break down and fail.  

Most manufacturers warranties are also expired at this point in the systems life and it might make more sense to replace the system instead of fix. Replacing a compressor is less expensive than replacing the entire unit, but new units may give you greater efficiency, lower operating costs and a brand new warranty on the whole unit, not just the part to be replaced which generally are only covered by a one year warranty. 

When faced with major repairs or heat pump break downs, give us a call, we can help you make the right choice and wont just try to sell you on something you don’t need.


My present Heat Pump does not keep us comfortable. Should I replace it with a larger one?

In most cases no. There are several reasons why a heat pump may not be doing its job effectively. The ductwork could be undersized or not designed properly or if it is sized for the system that you already have installed then it would be too small for a larger one because a larger heat pump would need larger ductwork. The problem may be due to undersized ductwork, poor system design or installation. You may need ductwork modifications, a proper heating load analysis, or possibly an energy audit to find the problem areas and correct them. The other issue could be that the home is too dry and you could benefit from a whole home humidifier.

Some homeowners have a hard time adjusting to the lower temperature output and the longer run times of a heat pump vs an oil or natural gas system. They don’t feel as comfortable, even though the heat pump may be working perfectly fine.

What is the average life-span of a Heat Pump?

Heat pump longevity varies and largely depends on how much the system is used and how well it has been maintained. Generally, the average life-span a of heat pump system is 10-15 years, but individual units may vary and last much longer depending on use and how well they are maintained. An ARI survey showed average heat pump life to be about 14 years when regular maintenance and cleanings were preformed.

Can I repair my own Heat Pump?

NO. Most Heat Pumps are on a 220 volt circuit. Severe shocks or electrocution is possible without a thorough understanding of electricity and proper safety procedures. Additionally, air conditioning and heat pump systems are more complicated to service than ever before, many being comprised of solid state circuit boards and sensors. The province of Nova Scotia requires a person to posses a Red Seal Certified Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanic’s licence to legally work on air conditioning and heat pump systems.  There are also other laws and statutes that must be followed such as the Clean Air Act which prohibits releasing refrigerants into the atmosphere. A Red Seal certified air conditioning contractor or service technician should be called at the first sign of trouble.

Should I switch to Emergency Heat when it gets below 0 degrees outside?

If you have a fully electric heat pump, the answer is no. A heat pump can still provide heat down to negative -15C. The heat pump and the electric back-up heat work together and this is all done automatically through your thermostat. If you an have oil or gas back-up, then you have the option to switch to back-up heat (Aux/Emergency Heat) for more comfort. But it may be more efficient not to use it and just allow the thermostat and the system to function on its own, using the heat pump and supplemental heating as it requires.

How often should I change the air filter in my system?

Standard one-inch air filters should be checked every month during the peak operating seasons; clean or replace if your air filter looks dirty enough to slow the air flow through it. Some filters, such as electrostatic filters or electronic air cleaners, are washable; others, such as media type air purifiers are disposable and must be replaced, but many of those are designed to last up to six months, even a year.

Can I put a snow cover or shelter over my outdoor Heat Pump?

You can place a cover above the outdoor condenser of a centrally ducted heat pump if the cover is far enough above the top of the unit as to not impede the air flow discharging from the unit. Most manufacturers have a minimum clearance to ensure proper discharge of the heated/cooled air coming out of the top of the unit, so it is best to refer to your systems owner/installation guidelines before proceeding with covering the system.    Failure to follow the manufacturers recommendations could result in poor system performance, damage to the system and it might even void your warranty.

Also consider if the cover will interfere with servicing of the unit.  If the technician needs to take valuable service time to remove the cover and re-install it you might be in for more of a service charge than expected.

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