With cold weather fast approaching, you’ll soon be switching your geothermal heat pump into heating mode for the first time in several months. But don’t go flipping the switch just yet, there are several steps you should take to ensure your machine is ready to run and won’t experience any operational problems. To make sure this process goes smoothly, ask yourself the following questions:
Is Your Air Filter Dirty?
If you have a water-to-air heat pump, you’ll need to change the air filter regularly. Heat pump air filters clean the incoming air of dust and particulates so they don’t get sucked into the heat pump. If your heat pump air filter is dirty, your heat pump is going to have to work harder, and it’s going to be harder on your compressor. While this won’t cause a problem at start-up, it could eventually cause the heat pump to malfunction and could result in expensive repairs. To avoid this, mark your calendar to remind yourself to change your filter every spring and fall.
Are Your Room Registers Closed?
If you haven’t been running your heat pump all summer, your home’s registers may have been closed. Sometimes homeowners do this to eliminate drafts, or they may do it unintentionally while moving furniture or cleaning. At any rate, if you start up your heat pump and one room seems to be colder than the rest, check to make sure the registers are open. If they aren’t, airflow to the room will be restricted and the heat pump won’t be able to heat the room sufficiently.
Are Your Circuit Breakers On?
Over the summer, it’s possible that someone in your household turned off the circuit breaker to the heat pump itself, the plenum heater, the air handler, or the zone circulators (if you have them). If they aren’t on, your heat pump isn’t going to start up correctly, so make sure to double check before switching your heat pump into heating mode. If all circuit breakers are on, and starting up the heat pump causes one of them to trip, that’s a sure sign that something is wrong and you should find a dealer to service your heat pump.
Is Your Thermostat Working Properly?
If your heat pump doesn’t start up correctly, the problem might be the thermostat. Verify your thermostat is working correctly by taking off the cover and checking that the wires are attached firmly to each mounting screw. Making sure your circuit breakers are on, set the thermostat to “heat” and set the temperature to at least five degrees above the current temperature. If you have a programmable thermostat, you’ll have to use the override setting to accomplish this. If this causes the circuit breakers to trip, you know that the thermostat is communicating with your heat pump, and that the problem lies with the heat pump system itself.
Are Your Valves Open?
If your system was serviced recently, or has been shut down for a while, check that all hand-operated valves are open before attempting to start it up. This is especially important if the heat pump hasn’t been in operation since it was serviced, because it’s possible the service technician forgot this important step.
If your heat pump was working properly last winter, odds are you won’t have any problems with it this fall. That said, it’s still a good idea to follow these simple steps to make sure it’s in tip-top working order every year.