Red Rock Mechanical, LLC Blog: Posts Tagged ‘Heat Pumps’

What Ice along Your Heat Pump Might Mean

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

It’s pretty common to walk outside during the winter and find ice on your heat pump. At first, it may seem like a problem you need to address. After all, you don’t want your heat source freezing over while it’s warming your house. In reality, however, you may not have to worry about it. Here is what ice along your heat pump usually means.

The Cause

A heat pump works by absorbing the thermal energy from the air around it. This thermal energy is then directed inside to heat and circulate air to the house. Condensation forms on the outside unit as a side effect of this thermal absorption. The sub-freezing environment then causes that condensation to freeze, forming frost on the outside of the heat pump.

The Solution

Heat pumps were designed to combat this condition by going through a defrost cycle every so often. A heat pump in heating mode will periodically reverse the flow of refrigerant, causing the outside unit to heat up and melt the frost around it. Therefore, there is no reason to worry about a little ice on your heat pump. If the heat pump is operating properly, it will take care of this issue on its own.

The Exception

There are cases where ice and frost can become a problem, however. If the defrost cycle doesn’t occur for whatever reason, ice will continue to build up around the outside unit. The more ice accumulates, the more air is cut off from the unit. This can drastically lessen the available thermal energy for the unit to absorb. If the ice and frost covers enough of the unit, it may stop absorbing heat altogether. If you happen to see ice on your heat pump, wait an hour or two and then check again. If the ice is gone or there is less of it, that’s a sign that your heat pump defrost cycle is working properly. If there is more ice or it doesn’t seem to be going away, you may have a problem with your heat pump. When that happens, call a professional.

If you are having issues with your heat pump, call Red Rock Mechanical. We service heat pumps and provide other professional heating services throughout the Stowe, VT area.


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Cold Climate Heat Pumps: How They Work

Friday, April 18th, 2014

If you’ve done some research into heat pumps, you probably already know about their major advantages: air conditioning and heating power in one unit, low cost heating, and space-saving. But you may have also come across one of their disadvantages: inefficient heating power in extreme cold temperatures.

It’s true that a heat pump will begin to lose efficiency in heating mode when the outdoor temperature falls below freezing. A heat pump must remove heat from the outdoor air and bring it into a home; although there is always some heat available in the outdoor air, no matter how low the temperature drops, it becomes harder for a heat pump to extract it once it dips below the economic balance point, a temperature usually around freezing (it varies due to humidity).

We definitely recommend heat pumps for people when it comes to cooling, since these systems work ideally at this task no matter the outdoor heat. But in Vermont, sub-freezing weather in winter is the reality. Because of this, we suggest homeowners look into cold climate heat pumps (CCHPs) so they can still take advantage of the benefits of a heat pump, but without sacrificing comfort. Contact Red Rock Mechanical and our staff of experts on heating repair and air conditioning maintenance in Burlington, VT today to find out more.

How Cold Climate Heat Pumps Beat The Freeze…And Save Money

Cold climate heat pumps (CCHPs) are also known as dual fuel hybrids because they combine the heat pump with a second backup heater that uses a different fuel source. You can have the heat pump and the back-up installed at the same time, or technicians can use your existing oil or propane-powered heating system and hook the heat pump to it. CCHPs come in both central and ductless models, so you can have one easily installed without existing ductwork in your home. Professionals can retrofit a home with a ductless system in less than a day.

CCHPs, when professionally installed, delivery three times more heat energy than they consume in electrical power. This is because heat pumps do not generate heat, but instead move it, a less energy-draining operation. In the case of extreme cold weather, the back-up system activates to assist the heat pump when it goes below the economic balance point. With the aid from the oil or propane-heater, CCHPs can deal with temperatures down to sub-zero without suffering efficiency loss.

A study by Efficiency Vermont has shown the difference in costs: A household that uses 850 gallons of heating oil per year (at $4 a gallon) would pay $3,400 for a year of heating. But with a CCHP installed, the same household would use only 170 gallons of oil, plus 7300 kWh of electricity at $.015 per kWh, for a total of $680 (oil) + $1100 (electric) = $1,780 for a year of heating…a savings of $1,620 per year.

Call Red Rock Mechanical today to ask about installation of a cold climate heap pump for your house. We’ll help you determine if one of these systems will work for you. Keep in mind, heat pumps also work as ACs, and you can call us for air conditioning maintenance in Burlington, VT to take care of all aspects of your heat pump.

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How a Heat Pump Works in Cold Weather

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

A heat pump is an alternative to the traditional HVAC systems that most people are used to, combining the features of a heater and an air conditioner into one. It costs a little more to install, but makes up for the cost with more efficient service, saving the homeowner money in monthly bills. The system of a heat pump is similar to that of an air conditioner, with a closed loop system cycling refrigerant through a series of condensers and evaporators. In the winter, that process is “reversed,” creating heat instead of cold to fill your home. But what does that entail, specifically? Here’s how a heat pump works in cold weather.

In the winter, the refrigerant absorbs the heat from the outside air and then goes to the compressor, where it is put under pressure which increases the temperature. Then that heat is then transferred to the inside air, and the warm air is distributed in your home via the ductwork.

Heat pumps are most effective on their own in climates where temperatures don’t dip below 40 degrees. Here in Vermont and upstate New York, our winters get colder than that. However, most heat pumps have backup electric resistant coils that can supplement the heat absorbed from the outside.  In addition, many heat pumps in the area are hybrid units, which have a backup furnace that kicks on when the outside temperature gets too low for the heat pump to heat efficiently.

If you are interested in learning more about heat pumps, give us a call today. Or, if you already have one, you can schedule a repair or maintenance session to keep it running at its peak. Either way, Red Rock Mechanical has the skills and experience to do the job right.

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