How to prep your heat pump for winter

October 15, 2014

Is your heat pump ready to withstand the rigors of winter? Or are there some tasks you must do to ensure it runs smoothly during the cold weather? Preparing your heat pump for winter is actually quite simple; it’s all about doing some maintenance. Here are some helpful hints.

How to prep your heat pump for winter

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Shelter your heat pump

In both summer and winter, your heat pump should be unobstructed so air can circulate properly. That's why building a makeshift shelter to protect the device is not recommended.

  • To ensure that accumulated snow or ice on the roof does not fall on your heat pump fan, you can install a cover designed by the manufacturer for your specific model.
  • Similarly, if your device is exposed to strong winds you can install windbreaks, leaving enough room around it to allow air flow.

If ice forms on the heat pump you should never chip at it with a tool. Instead, melt the ice with a bit of hot water so you won’t damage your heat pump unit.

DIY heat pump maintenance

The best way to prepare your heat pump for the winter is by properly maintaining it and always ensuring there is good air circulation around it at all times. Preventative maintenance tasks include:

  • Clean the outside coil of your heat pump with a garden hose after turning your device off and after turning off its connection to the power source.
  • Check the filters. Once a month is a good rule of thumb. Clean or replace them according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. When dust clogs the filters airflow is reduced, which makes the machine noisy and less effective. Prolonged obstruction can also damage the compressor. If you wash the filter, make sure it’s completely dry before you replace it.
  • Clean between the coils with a vacuum cleaner or brush.
  • Clean the fan once a year. Don’t lubricate the engine unless the owner's manual specifies to do so.
  • Inspect the pipes and clean them if the airflow is obstructed by an accumulation of dust.
  • Make sure nothing blocks the vents. Sometimes objects or debris fall through the grill and obstruct the pipes as well.

Have your heat pump checked by an expert

Even if you're diligent about maintaining your heat pump, it's a good idea to have it inspected by a certified heat pump technician who can spot and fix small problems before they spiral out of control.

  • Should your heat pump break down in the middle of winter during a cold snap, the last thing you want is a cold house with burst pipes due to freezing.
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