Frequently Asked Questions
1. How long should a heat pump last?
The standard life expectancy of a heat pump is somewhere between 15-20 years depending on the quality of the unit. Better units with good coil protection and sealed compartments for compressor and controls seem to do the best.
2. Do I need to change the coil and lineset when replacing my heat pump?
Starting at the beginning of 2010, manufacturers could no longer produce HVAC units with R-22 refrigerant. The next generation refrigerant that manufacturers are using is R-410a. This new refrigerant requires different components and uses a new type of oil that doesn’t blend with the old oil used in R-22 systems. For this reason, it is necessary to have a new R-410a rated coil, and best to have new connecting linesets.
3. Will I still be able to get R-22 for my old heat pump?
The EPA had a scheduled “phase-out” program for R-22 which planned for an end of production in the year 2030. In early 2012, however, they proposed an accelerated phase-out schedule which caused an immediate increase in the cost, and a reduction in the availability of R-22. We still have stock of R-22 available, however, the higher cost and limited availability is causing many homeowners to consider new air conditioning units with R-410a refrigerant over costly R-22 repairs.
4. Is there a replacement refrigerant for R-22?
At this time there is no “drop-in” replacement for R-22. The new refrigerant that most manufacturers are using is R-410a, but it is not compatible with old R-22 systems. There are several alternative refrigerants being introduced that will work with older R-22 systems, but they are still somewhat expensive and require a complete system evacuation and recharge.
5. What is the difference between an Air Conditioner and a Heat Pump?
There’s really very little difference between an air conditioner and a heat pump. From the outside they look the same. The main difference is that a heat pump has a device called a reversing valve. An air conditioner takes warm air out of your house and discharges it outside. A heat pump is simply an air conditioner that has the ability to reverse and take the heat from the outside air and discharge it into your home.
6. Which manufacturer makes the best heat pump?
The two brands that we represent are York and Trane. We feel that these manufacturers have a high commitment to quality. But that’s not to say that there are not other good brands out there. We believe the most important part of choosing a new air conditioner or heat pump is choosing a quality company to put it in. An air conditioner or heat pump that is installed properly and with care will last much longer, and give much better performance.
8. Should I buy a larger unit to heat and cool my house faster?
Buying a larger heat pump is not always the best idea. The best option is to have an experienced consultant measure your home and take load calculation information to determine the ideal unit size for your application. A unit that is too big for its application will often experience poor temperature control, high humidity issues, freeze-ups, compressor flooding, and often pre-mature failure.
9. Is a heat pump less expensive to operate than a gas furnace?
This question is very difficult to answer because it is so dependent on the fluctuating prices of gas and electric. When a heat pump operates in mild winter temperatures and is able to heat without the use of auxiliary heaters, it uses a relatively small amount of energy and is generally less expensive to run than a gas furnace. In cold weather conditions when longer periods of auxiliary heat occur, much more energy is required and heat pump becomes more expensive to operate. For this reason, many homeowners opt for a hybrid heating system that uses both a heat pump and gas furnace. The heat pump provides heat during mild conditions when it is the most efficient, and then automatically switches to the gas furnace for cold-weather operation.
10. When should my heat pump switch to Auxiliary Heat?
A standard heat pump system generally uses electric strip heaters for auxiliary (or back-up) heat. In normal heating operation the wall thermostat controls the cycling of the heat pump and the auxiliary heaters. When the controlled space first starts requiring heat, the thermostat will send a signal to bring on the heat pump compressor and indoor blower as the primary heating source. If the primary heating source is not sufficient to satisfy the heat demand (or the space temperature continues to drop) the thermostat will automatically energize the auxiliary heat. In most thermostat applications the auxiliary heat will automatically energize any time the space temperature is 2 degrees or more below the heating set point. This will be the normal cycle each time a heat cycle is initiated unless the thermostat is switched to “Emergency Heat”, in which case the heat pump compressor is disabled and the auxiliary heaters become the primary and only source of heat.
* York heat pumps with a YorkGuard module have additional auxiliary heat control with two additional settings:
1) Balance Point – At ambient temperatures above the Balance Point setting, auxiliary heaters are not allowed to operate.
2) Low Temperature Cut-Out – At ambient temperatures below the LTCO, the system automatically switches to “Emergency Heat”.