How Often Should a Heat Pump Be Serviced?


Hopefully, you have never had any problems with your heat pump. However, just like most mechanical systems, heat pumps need to be serviced occasionally to preserve their function and prevent potential problems.

So, how often should a heat pump be serviced? A heat pump should be serviced once a year. With annual service, your heat pump will last longer, operate at optimal energy-efficiency, and prevent costly repair bills. Proper service allows small problems to be identified and corrected before they become major mechanical breakdowns.

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This article will inspect some other important aspects of maintaining your heat pump. If you want to learn more about heat pump management and service, keep reading!

How Do You Maintain a Heat Pump?

Heat pumps last a long time. In fact, many heat pumps last for 15-20 years. If you have had your heat pump for a while, or even if you just bought it, you are probably wondering how to maintain it, so it lasts for as long as possible.

What You Can Do Clean Your Heat Pump

Well-maintained heat pumps consume 10 to 25% less energy than neglected ones. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do at home to keep your heat pump functioning.

  • Listen to the manufacturer. If your heat pump has manufacturing instructions about cleaning and maintenance, follow them! This will verify that your heat pump is maintained properly depending on any needs its specific manufacturing has.
  • Clean. Clean your outdoor coils if they are dirty and let a professional clean your inner coils to keep them functioning. Also, clean your filters about once a month.
  • Turn off your fan. Constantly running your fan can lower your heat pump’s performance. Also, while your fan is off, you can clean it as needed to maintain function and maximize its lifespan.

Insider’s Tip: Your outside unit gets dirty as outdoor air is drawn across the outside condensing coil during the heat exchange process. It is recommended you remove debris around your outside condensing unit and hose down your unit with a mild detergent and water to wash away dirt and grass clipping after grass cutting.

Professional Annual Cleaning and Servicing

You should have your heat pump serviced at least once a year. When the technician comes, there are several things he or she should do to ensure the heat pump retains function.

Here are some of the main things the technician should do on his visit:

  • Test refrigerant: Ensure there is the correct amount of refrigerant and that it is not leaking.
  • General maintenance: Oil the motors, seal duct leakage, and inspect the electric terminal.
  • Inspect the evaporator coil: The technician should measure the airflow in the evaporator coil.
  • Verify controls: Confirm that the thermostat operates correctly and that the heating and cooling systems cannot work at the same time.

How Much Does It Cost to Service a Heat Pump?

According to data collected from HomeAdvisor, the typical cost to maintain a heat pump is $156-174. However, this price can vary depending on what provider you use and how much maintenance your heat pump requires. Sometimes, you will need parts repaired, which can be costly, but keep in mind that it is better than having to replace the whole pump!

Most heat pump technicians charge around $50-$150 per hour. However, the cost of servicing your heat pump depends on what functional issues your pump has and whether you need specific parts repaired.

The most common problems heat pumps face are related to the condenser, the thermostat, and the ductwork. These repairs have different costs and vary based on what your heat pump’s issue is. 

If your heating or cooling is not working, it may be due to a problem with your thermostat changing the settings of your heat pump. The average thermostat repair costs about $107- $282. The servicer will likely charge about $50-$100 per hour, and you will have to pay for any necessary parts.

Heat pumps have outdoor condenser systems, which can be damaged by environmental issues, wear, or faulty motors. Condensers cost about $150-$1000 to repair, but it depends on the issue. A damaged defrost control board could cost up to $600 to replace, while faulty motors are only $200 to replace. When your heat pump is serviced, the technician should clean around your outdoor coils.

When you hear strange noises from your heat pump system, this could be the result of leaks or other problems with your ductwork. Ductware repairs generally cost $250-$700, depending on the damage

Why Is It Important to Clean Your Evaporator Coil?

Evaporator coils are vital to your heat pump’s function. Inside the heat pump, the refrigerant is pumped between two coils. These coils are used to move heat through the system. One coil evaporates the refrigerant and absorbs heat, and the refrigerant is compressed as it is sent to the other coil, where it condenses and releases heat.

This process is how the heat pump transfers heat, making it an essential aspect of its operation. Cleaner coils are more effective and efficient, and therefore make your heat pump work better. 

Over time, evaporator coils collect dirt that will block it from absorbing heat. Dirty coils reduce airflow and can provide a physical barrier to the refrigerant’s movement and evaporation. This reduced airflow decreases the system’s overall performance by restricting its ability to function properly. 

Furthermore, reduced airflow can damage your system’s compressor, which is what allows the refrigerant to move between coils and be condensed from the evaporator coil.

Failing to clean your evaporator coil can be costly. Clogged coils make your electricity bill skyrocket. When coils are dirty, the system has to work harder to reach the same result, which will increase your bills. 

Through this decreased efficiency, the heat pump can become worn down, shortening its lifespan. This can cause your system to break down more frequently, or need to be replaced sooner, considerably denting your wallet.

Insider’s Tip: Routine air filter maintenance should be performed every 30-90 days depending on the type of air filter you have. The air filter helps keep the coil clean and prevents buildup on the coil. Never run your heat pump without an air filter. For information on air filters and air filter maintenance, see our article on How To Locate & Replace Your Heat Pump Filter: Step By Step Guide.

Should My Ducts Be Cleaned After Service?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, cleaning your air ducts does not prevent health problems, and dirty air ducts do not contribute to higher dust levels. Moreover, while cleaning your coils and fans can help increase efficiency, there is no evidence to suggest that cleaning your air ducts does the same. 

Although air ducts do not need to be cleaned every time your heat pump is serviced, they should be cleaned as needed. Luckily, the EPA has not found any negative effects of duct-cleaning, so you can clean them when required. 

Cleaning might be necessary if there is mold growing in your ducts. Your service provider can let you know if your ducts have mold growth that will require them to be cleaned. However, if the insulation in your air ducts is wet or too moldy to clean, it should be replaced. Finally, make sure the conditions or malfunctions that led to the mold are corrected, so the growth does not reoccur.

Other factors that can cause ducts to need cleaning are clogging and infestation. If your ducts have vermin, such as rats or mice, they should be cleaned to remove the infestation. Moreover, if your ducts are clogged with dust or debris, they should be cleaned to improve airflow.

It is recommended that your air ducts be cleaned every 5-7 years. However, if you have recently purchased a home, I always recommend you have the heat pump serviced and the air ducts cleaned. This is especially true if the house has been vacant for an extended period of time or if you don’t have any history on the service of the heat pump system.

This establishes a service date from which you can now perform regular routine service and set service reminders on your iPhone or smartphone.

Conclusion

In conclusion, you should get your heat pump serviced once per year or as needed. If you have problems with your heat pump, get a professional opinion. There are a few ways to maintain your heat pump and lengthen your heat pump’s life, but the best option is annual servicing.

The cost of heat pump servicing varies depending on the necessary repairs and the company you use, but the average cost ranges from $156 to $174, and most technicians charge from $50 to $150 per hour.

Finally, your evaporator coils should be cleaned during your servicing, but ducts should only be cleaned as needed which is about once every 5-7 years.

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Sources

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Hubert Miles

I've been conducting home inspections for 17 years. I'm a licensed Home Inspector, Certified Master Inspector (CMI), and FHA 203k Consultant. I started HomeInspectionInsider.com to help people better understand the home inspection process and answer questions about homeownership and home maintenance.

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