Whether you have just bought a new house, are house hunting, or house sitting and need to turn on the air conditioner, you may wonder what type of unit the home has and how the air conditioner works.

To someone unfamiliar with a heat pump, there is an outside unit and an inside one that may resemble a funny-shaped metal box. Despite its name, a heat pump provides heat in the winter and also serves as an air conditioner. The Weather Changers is here to help you know what a heat pump looks like and if your home has one.

What Different Heat Pumps Look Like

Like an HVAC unit, a heat pump heats and cools a home. It circulates the air between the indoor unit and an outdoor compressor unit that resembles a typical HVAC unit but gathers energy from the air, ground, or water rather than fuel or electricity.

Ground Source Heat Pumps

A ground source heat pump transfers air from the ground to inside the home and vice versa. A loop of refrigerant pipes is buried in a well roughly 15-20 feet into the ground, which keeps an average temperature between 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit. The well’s piping is brought into the basement and attached to the inside part of the pump.

Air-to-Air Heat Pumps

Similar in principle, an air source or air-to-air heat pump swaps outside air with inside air. When working as a heating unit, the outside part of the unit blows outside air over tubes filled with refrigerant, turning it into a gas. That gas is compressed for further warming and piped into your home.

As an air conditioner, an air-to-air heat pump absorbs the heat from inside and uses the refrigerant to extract that heat energy from the outside. There are two types, ducted and ductless.

Hybrid Heat Pumps

A hybrid heat pump combines an air source heat pump unit with an HVAC heating part like a gas furnace or an electric broiler. This part is generally installed in a basement, attic, or closet and serves as backup no matter the outside temperature.

Water Source Heat Pumps

Much like a ground source heat pump, a water source heat pump uses a well, spring, or pond rather than the air stored below ground. The indoor part of a water source pump is often installed in a utility closet.

Differences Between a Heat Pump and an Air Conditioner

The outdoor part of a heat pump and an HVAC unit look very much alike. The unit should have a brand name and model number attached, which you can look up on the Internet.

There are other ways to tell a heat pump from an air conditioner. If you see a reversing valve through the top grill of the outside unit, an EM heat setting on the thermostat, or if the condenser runs when the heat is on, these are all indications of a heat pump.

What to Do If Your Heat Pump Isn’t Working

There are many reasons a heat pump may not turn on. First, check your thermostat to ensure it is on Auto. Then check your power as well as the power buttons on both the indoor and outdoor unit to ensure all are on.

If your pump still isn’t working, it is time to call in a professional heat pump technician, like those at The Weather Changers, for a complete inspection.

Get Help With Your Heat Pump Today

During Colorado’s summer heat or winter freeze, your heat pump needs to be in good working order all year round. Like any heating and air unit, your heat pump should have routine service, which will help keep problems at bay. But should a problem arise, do not hesitate to contact the professional team at The Weather Changers.

IMG CREDIT: Planprophoto