Heat pumps are a popular choice for home HVAC systems. Eventually, your system will encounter issues, and it can be difficult to know whether you should repair the heat pump or replace the entire unit. Homeowners may be reluctant to replace their heat pump since it is a large investment. However, there are cases where repairs would be more costly in the long run than replacing the HVAC system. Read on to learn about common problems with heat pumps and how to know when it’s time to replace the unit.
Heat Pump Components
A heat pump consists of an indoor air handler and an outdoor unit. There are also two sets of coils: one indoor and one outdoor. The outdoor unit has a compressor that circulates refrigerant between the two coils. The refrigerant helps transfer heat to the inside in the winter and to the outside in the summer. This is how the heat pump heats or cools your home. If your heat pump isn’t working properly, it could be due to any one of these components failing.
Issues with Heat Pumps
Here are some common issues heat pumps experience that might require repairs or even a replacement unit:
- Your home is not maintaining the temperature you set on the thermostat
- Heating and cooling is uneven/inconsistent between different rooms
- You hear unusual sounds coming from the system (either indoors or outdoors)
- Energy bills are increasing
- The system blows cold air in heat mode
- Your heat pump is running constantly in moderate weather
- The outdoor unit is frozen
- The fan on the indoor air handler is not activating
How Long Do Heat Pumps Last?
The average heat pump system lasts 15 years. Although some may last even longer, you will likely see a significant decline in performance after this time period. Some heat pumps may only last 10 years. Of course, certain factors can shorten or prolong the lifespan of your heat pump, including:
- Maintenance – If you have properly maintained your heat pump by scheduling regular service, it will probably last a lot longer than a heat pump that has been neglected.
- Filters – Remember to regularly change the air filters in your heat pump to help it run efficiently and last longer.
- Outdoor debris – The outdoor unit may be affected by debris buildup. This includes leaves, twigs, dirt, ice, or snow. Make sure you clear out any debris from the outside, and keep plants away from the unit by pruning or pulling weeds as necessary.
- Climate – Although you have no control over the climate, it does play a role in heat pump lifespan. In general, heat pumps won’t last as long in coastal climates due to salt buildup in the system. Heat pumps may also have a harder time keeping up with harsh climates and extreme temperature changes.
When Is it Better to Repair Your Heat Pump Rather Than Replace It?
It’s best to repair your heat pump if it is less than 10 years old, still under warranty, or the repairs are not costly. It’s helpful to weigh the repair costs against the price to replace the entire unit, and take into account the remaining lifespan of the system. For example, if your heat pump is 5 years old, you can expect it to last about 5 to 10 more years, so it may be worth the cost to repair the issue.
There may be some things you can do to troubleshoot the issue yourself, such as:
- Inspecting the outdoor unit to see if it is clogged with debris or covered in ice/snow
- Checking the thermostat to make sure it’s set for the right mode (heating or cooling)
- Cleaning or replacing the air filter if it’s dirty
If you cannot find the issue or you suspect a major problem with the heat pump, contact an HVAC technician to take a look. The technician can diagnose the problem and provide an estimate so you can decide whether it’s worth the cost to repair.
How to Know if You Should Replace Your Heat Pump
Here are some signs it’s time to replace your heat pump:
- The system constantly needs repairs
- You have a major issue that would be costly to repair
- The heat pump is making unusual noises (could indicate a serious issue)
- Utility bills are rising and you have traced the source to your heat pump
- Heating and cooling are always uneven or ineffective
- The heat pump is over 10 years old
In some cases, the cost of repairs outweighs the potential benefits. You might spend a lot of money on repairing the system, only to have another component fail in a few years. Generally, heat pumps that are 10 years or older should probably be replaced for two reasons: the system is nearing the end of its lifespan and will likely have future issues, and newer heat pump models are more energy efficient.
How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Heat Pump?
It costs between $4,000 and $15,000 to replace a heat pump, including the price of labor. The final cost depends on different factors, such as the type of system and size of your home.
Heat Pump Repair and Installation in Central Pennsylvania
RSC Heating & Air Conditioning serves Lancaster, Lebanon, and York Counties. Our NATE Certified technicians can diagnose any issues with your heat pump and advise you on repair costs so you can decide the best course of action. If you decide to replace your system, we can handle the installation. Request service from RSC or get an estimate for a new heat pump.