How to Extend Your Heat Pump’s Life Expectancy

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Like all other devices in your home, heat pumps or HVAC units will last longer if you take proper care of them. In this article, we will discuss how to extend your heat pump’s life span. This is useful if you want to keep using the current device for a long time. But before we get to that, how long can a heat pump last?

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What is a heat pump’s life expectancy?

Most HVAC units last for decades at best. The average life expectancy of a heat pump is 15 years, and the range is about 10 to 20 years. However, if your home is near the coast, the heat pump may only last for 7 to 12 years. For comparison, here are the life expectancies of other common HVAC units:

  • Gas furnaces – 20 to 30 years
  • Oil furnaces – 10 to 15 years
  • Boilers – 20 to 35 years
  • Air conditioner – 15 to 20 years; 7 to 12 years if a home is near coastal areas

You may have noticed that some HVAC units’ have a lesser lifespan in coastal areas. Salt exposure is one of the reasons your heat pump’s life gets shortened. This now leads us to the next section.

What affects a heat pump’s life expectancy? How do I fix it?

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Many factors affect a heat pump’s life span and its performance. Here are some of those:

Weather and environment

The environment where the unit is installed can greatly affect the heat pump’s life span and performance. The general life spans for heat pumps and air conditioning units appear to be lower in coastal areas. Two words explain this: salt exposure.

As you know, heat pumps move air from the outside to your home for heating, or from a house to outside to cool it down. If you live near the coast, the HVAC unit will most likely gather salt in its coils. This explains why air conditioners and heat pumps break down more easily in coastal homes unless protected.

Seasons also affect the heat pump’s performance and lifespan. In the winter, frost might gather in the coils and keep it from properly heating your home. More about problems in winter here.

It’s essential to clean the coils regularly, especially for coastal homes. Cleaning the coils will make it easier for the unit to run efficiently. For frozen coils, make sure the heat pump’s defrost cycle is working. Clear away any frost buildup as well.

Consider humidity as well. If it’s too humid, the unit might find it hard to keep up. Higher humidity will compel you to keep the unit running for longer periods; otherwise, the room may not feel any cooler. This will eventually strain the unit. You can install a dehumidifier in the HVAC unit to combat this.

Dirty filters and fins

Just like ice and salt, dirt and other debris in the filters may slow down the unit. You may also want to watch for any plants growing near the unit. Make sure that these plants must be at least 18 inches away from the unit.

Cleaning or replacing filters regularly will do the trick. Don’t also forget about the fins of the condenser outside. You can easily reach them with a rag or a hose. For out-of-reach parts, you can call maintenance to help you keep the unit clean when needed.

Size of the unit

Apart from weather and seasons, the unit’s size is significant too. An undersized unit will be forced to work harder to warm or cool down a room. On the other hand, a standard-sized unit will not have to use up all of its power to give you the required cooling or heating. It will cool or warm the room up faster by running in short cycles.

For size, the best way to fix this would be to replace the unit with a more appropriate-sized one if you can afford it. Not only will it be easier to maintain, but it will also be more efficient. Better yet, when planning to get an HVAC unit, consider the size of the unit compared to the room.

Insulation problems

The room’s insulation might also affect your unit’s performance and lifespan. If the insulation is faulty, the heat pump will keep running to meet the ideal temperature, thus, wearing it out.

Make the unit’s work easier by checking for leaks in the walls and insulation. One thing you can do is insulate rooms that haven’t been insulated yet. If you don’t know where to find the wall’s weak spots, you can get a professional to help you find these weak spots. The HVAC unit will need less time to operate if a home is well-insulated.

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Other ways to extend your unit’s lifespan

The problems and solutions mentioned above are only some specific ways to extend your unit’s lifespan. There are still many other ways to improve the unit’s lifespan. But again, it all boils down to maintenance and ease the burden on the unit’s capacity.

  • You need to check on the unit’s refrigerant ducts regularly. Leaks in the ducts will also force the unit to work harder and thus, affecting its performance and lifespan. You can get a professional to help you patch up the leaky ducts if you suspect there are any.
  • Conserve energy. Use other cooling or heating appliances in home-like fans if using an HVAC unit isn’t really necessary. Close doors and windows when the heat pump is running to keep the temperature even.
  • Don’t forget the thermostat. Make sure the thermostat is calibrated to a heat pump properly to avoid unnecessary work because the temperatures don’t match. There are actually thermostats designed specifically for heat pumps. However, don’t attempt to install one without professional help.
  • To reiterate, never forget to regularly tune-up and clean an HVAC unit. You might find other problems affecting the unit that might not be mentioned here. When cleaning an HVAC unit, don’t forget the coils and fins in the outside part of the unit.
  • Don’t replace the unit unless necessary. The best time to replace a unit is when it’s already failing or when it is consuming too much of energy even after many repairs.

These are some of the reasons why the heat pump’s lifespan can be affected or may not give the desired performance. Like I mentioned above, you can try to fix most of them on your own, but for the more technical ones, you may need to ask for help from a professional.

If at any point, you start feeling that a heat pump is needing a lot of fixing in a short time or it’s not giving the required performance that you need even after multiple fixing or consuming too much of power, it’s probably better to look for a new one to get rid of these.

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