Homeowners Professionals
Heat pump

Do heat pumps need servicing regularly?

As a traditional gas boiler needs servicing regularly to ensure that it isn’t leaking carbon monoxide, it is also important to have your heat pump serviced. A heat pump uses refrigerant to transfer heat from the ground or air to your home. This needs to be checked in line with manufacturers service instructions.

It is also recommended that your heat pump is serviced to ensure that it’s running efficiently and to improve its lifespan. Your heat pump could lose some efficiency over time, so a properly maintained pump could save you money too.

In some cases, you will need to have your heat pump serviced in order to meet the demands required for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). This incentive involves receiving money from the government for having a renewable energy heating system in your home, such as a  ground source  or  air source heat pump. It might also need annual servicing if you want your warranty to remain valid.  re you want it.  

Vitocal 150-A air source heat pump outdoor unit

What does a heat pump service include?

When you have your heat pump serviced, there are a few things that the suitably qualified heating engineer will check. These may differ depending on the type of heat pump you have.

The engineer will make sure that the area around the pump is clear and free of debris. Objects such as leaves can begin to block the filters, so this is an important step to ensure that your appliance can work efficiently. Then they can begin to check the individual parts, such as electrical connections, fan motors and capacitors. The heating engineer will check for any signs of refrigerant leakage and check compressor starts and run times of the heat pump.

The fan blades will be cleaned, as will any filters that are blocked or dirty. If the filters are too blocked, they may need to be replaced.

Who can service a heat pump?

Anyone who deals with heat pump servicing which involves refrigerant checks will need an FGas certificate. As long as they have this, they can service your heat pump, so ask for their certificate prior to the service. An installer does not require an FGas certificate for installation only with no requirement to look at refrigerant components.

What is the average life expectancy of a heat pump?

Modern heat pumps  could last as long as 20 to 25 years. Although the initial cost can be considerably more than a gas boiler, their longevity and the money you can claim from government incentives like the  boiler upgrade scheme  could make it worthwhile.

Moving parts such as a compressor could become worn out over time. This can’t be helped. If this occurs, you may want to consider the cost of a new compressor versus the cost of a new heat pump that could continue to work for another 20 to 25 years. Heat pump manufacturers provide warranties and you may be able to have parts replaced for free. You should check the details with the manufacturer.  

How to troubleshoot a heat pump

If your heat pump isn’t providing any heat to your home, there may be a few things you can check yourself before calling out a suitably qualified engineer.

Some basic checks would be to ensure that the power is on and increase the room temperature by a couple of degrees. Doing this might kick start the pump into producing additional heat.

During winter the outdoor unit on an air source heat pump could become iced over. The ice may prevent the transfer of heat between the refrigerant and the air. Your pump should have a defrost setting that gradually melts the ice. Alternatively, it could be just be a blocked grill which means the refrigerant is not heated effectively. You may need to have an engineer check the pump for anything more complicated.

Check that it is on heating mode as some heat pumps have an air conditioning option and it may accidentally have been turned on.

If your heat pump is on heat mode, the system still has problems, you shouldn’t try to get the heat pump working yourself if you don’t know what you’re doing. Instead, call a qualified engineer who will be able to look at the heat pump for you.  

How to clean a heat pump’s outside unit

Prior to its service, you may want to clean the heat pump’s outside unit. Unlike a boiler, which is installed in your home and kept clean and dry, away from the elements, an air source heat pump unit is installed outside, which can result in it becoming dirty or clogged up with debris such as leaves. Therefore, in order to keep your heat pump running efficiently and to improve its life span, you may need to occasionally clean the unit.

Cleaning of the inside of the unit should only be done by a professional.

First, they would take off the panel that lies flat on top of the heat pump by removing the screws using a screwdriver. Once the screws are out, it should lift up quite easily. Next, they will remove the front panel from the fan, again using the screwdriver to do so.

The heating engineer will be able to remove any dirt and dust from the fan and the surrounding area inside the unit. If they see any large pieces of debris, they will carefully pull them out by hand. They may also give the grill and the top panel a clean before screwing them back into place.

Then, the front grill can be reattached to the front of the fan and the panel on top of the unit. It’s as simple as that, but could improve the lifespan of your pump.


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