Knowledge Center

What is a Heat Pump?
In the summer, an air-to-air heat pump operates as a standard air conditioner, collecting heat from the air in your home and expelling it outside. In the winter, the process is reversed, so that the heat pump collects heat from the outdoor air to warm the air inside your home. A heat pumps operation and efficiency comes from a principle known as heat transfer. Rather than creating heat, the electric heat pump utilizes existing heat and simply moves it to the desired location.

Why does a heat pump run more frequently in the winter?
When it is very cold outside, the heat pump has to work longer to extract heat from the outdoor air. It also runs through a defrost cycle, giving the appearance that it is running longer.

Is the air from a heat pump cooler than the air from other heating systems?
Yes. A heat pump doesn’t produce hot blasts of air like other systems. Rather it maintains a consistent indoor temperature. The air coming from the registers is usually about 90* - 95*F.

Smoke’s coming out of my heat pump, is it on fire?
No. The outdoor unit has an automatic defrost cycle. A cloud of steam rising from the outdoor unit will be observed and the outdoor fan will stop running. At the completion of the cycle, a loud swooshing noise will occur and the outdoor fan will start again.

What’s wrong when my unit is covered in ice/frost?
Frosting of the outdoor unit is normal in the winter season. As long as the temperature in the house remains comfortable there should be no problem with your unit. If there is any ice build-up the unit needs to be checked out. Scraping or cleaning the frost from the outdoor unit is not recommended.

How often should I check my filter?
Whether you have disposable, pleated, electrostatic, or electronic filters, one thing they all have in common is they must be kept clean! This is the most common cause for pre-mature failure of air conditioners. You should check them monthly and clean or replace them when it is apparent they are no longer allowing air to pass through them freely.

What is SEER?
The Department of Energy requires all manufacturers rate their systems with the standard Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. This rating is a reflection on how efficient the system produces cooling. In general the higher the SEER rating the more efficient the systems is. The minimum SEER rating allowed is 13 and systems range up to 20. High efficient systems typically utilize variable airflow and two speed compressors.

What is AFUE?
Similar to SEER, the AFUE is a rating of Gas furnaces. The AFUE is expressed as a percentage. A furnace with an 80% AFUE rating utilizes 80% of the gas toward heating your home. 20% of the gas is expelled through the flue pipe with other products of combustion. Systems range up to 100% AFUE.

Should my outdoor unit be covered in winter?
NO! Air conditioners are made to last for years in the outdoors. Savannah’s strange weather makes it nearly impossible to predict. You can cause serious damage to your air conditioner if it were operated with the airflow obstructed. Heat pumps run nearly year round so it makes no sense to try to cover them.

Should shrubs and flowers be planted around an outdoor unit?

Yes. However, it is recommended that plants be no closer than 18” from the coiled sides of the unit and 36” from the service door, to allow ample room for routine maintenance.

Should the thermostat settings be positioned to the “auto” or the “on” position?
When you place the thermostat to the auto position, the fan will cycle on when the heat or cool mode comes on. When the fan is placed in the on position, the fan runs continuously. This is beneficial when an even temperature throughout your house is desired and it also reduces air borne dust and pollen. The constant fan may cause a rise in indoor humidity as water is evaporated off of the indoor coil during the off cycle.

How long should an air conditioner last?
The average life of an air conditioner / heat pump in the sub-tropic climate of the Savannah area seems to be seven to fifteen years, depending on a variety of particulars such as, maintenance, brand, proximity to salt water and the quality of the original installation.