According to Statista, the number of households using air source heat pumps has doubled between 2014 and 2019. These types of heat pumps are an incredibly environmentally friendly method of off-grid heating that works by using tubes filled with refrigerant liquid.
Heat is first transferred from the surrounding environment to heat this liquid up, which in turn can heat your home and provide you with hot water. A great thing about these heat pumps is that the cycle can be reversed during the summer and the pumps can be used as an air conditioner.
If you are new to this type of heating, it can be confusing to know when these heat pumps should be serviced and how regularly you should be calling out an experienced engineer to perform a full maintenance check. In this article, we will be highlighting how you can look after your air source heat pump system, and when you should call an engineer.
How much do air source heat pumps cost?
Air source heat pumps usually cost between £10,000 – £15,000, though long term they can save you vast amounts of money on your heating bills. Another reason why these heat pumps are so great is that the Government launched a Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme that could effectively pay you for heating your home. Homeowners can apply through the government website and can claim on the scheme for up to 7 years – eventually saving you a lot of money.
Energy tariffs for Heat Pumps
The two things that affect how much these pumps cost to run are the heat demand in your area and the efficiency of the unit. Heat demand will vary between properties depending on size and how easily your home retains heat. The efficiency refers to how the air source heat pump can heat the property using as little energy as possible.
A highly efficient heat pump used to heat a smaller, double-glazed home will be incredibly cheap to run. Keeping your heat pump in good condition will also increase the efficiency of the system and ensure that running costs are kept as low as possible.
How is maintenance undertaken?
Despite air source heat pumps not needing much ongoing maintenance, there are a number of things that you should do to ensure the longevity of the unit. Some general maintenance that should be performed regularly are:
- Cleaning and swapping out the filters as and when needed to avoid blockages
- Checking that the airflow is clear
- Turning the unit off occasionally so that you can clean the fans
- Cleaning the coils of the units when necessary
The above maintenance is relatively easy to undertake yourself without having any prior knowledge of air source heat pump units or how they work. Although, if you notice anything that looks like an issue, it is always worth calling out a professional to come and check for things that the untrained eye would not spot.
Calling out a professional
When calling in an engineer, they will be able to undertake a more detailed servicing of the heat pumps, which will allow them to spot and fix any potential issues. Qualified professionals will be able to do the following:
- Conduct a detailed inspection of the filters, blowers and coils and ensure that the airflow is not impeded
- Check that the refrigerant levels and pressure is correct and that there is no leakage
- Check all the electrical components to ensure that they are properly encased and safe
- Check the reverse settings to check that heating and cooling are both working correctly
- Apply lubricant to the motors and moving belts
- Check for general wear and tear as the unit ages
Because the heat pumps contain F-Gas refrigerants, it is vital that you get an F-Gas certified engineer to conduct the maintenance checks on the unit. The manufacturer may already have a list of registered engineers that they recommend you use, or there are plenty of comparison websites that can help you to find a local engineer. It is really important to check tradespeoples reviews and certifications, as unqualified professionals could be more of a hindrance than a help.
How often should heat pump maintenance be undertaken?
During installation, the manufacturing guidelines will outline the recommended amount of time between services. Therefore, before choosing your particular air source heat pump, it is generally a good idea to consider how often you are committed to having the unit serviced.
In general, it is advised to check your heat pumps once or twice a year before the season changes. This is so that the cooling and heating functions can be checked before they are used every year, and any potential problems are fixed to avoid you being left with no heating in the freezing winter weather.
What to do if your air source heat pump is not working
Sometimes, as with other methods of heating, heat pumps can stop working for a variety of different reasons. Before calling out a service engineer, there are a number of things that you may be able to check to find out what has caused the issue. First of all, it’s important that you check whether the power is turned on, as this can be a simple fix.
As well as this, during winter the pumps can become iced over and so it is important that you turn on the defrost setting that most pumps have. This will melt the ice and ensure that the pumps begin working again. If you are unsure about how to fix your heat pump yourself, it is vital that you get an engineer out to have a look at the pumps, as you could seriously injure yourself if you try to tackle the issue alone.
Heat Pump Warranties
Most heat pumps will come with a warranty of 5-10 years on parts and labour. Though, if looked after properly, heat pumps can last for up to 40 years, and many companies will offer free annual services – this makes them a great option for sustainable heating.