A heat pump can last as long as 20 years; however, you may start noticing signs of its decline sooner than that. To get the most value from your investment in the pump, you want it to last as long as possible, but investing money repairing an older heat pump may not be warranted.

Replace the heat pump

Proceeding with a system replacement requires that you consider several steps. First, you’ll need to hire an HVAC professional with stellar recommendations in terms of customer service and installation and sizing expertise.

Then, sit down and work together to select a pump with the highest efficiency ratings you can afford to invest in. You’ll need to evaluate both the heating season performance factor (HSPF) and the (cooling) seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER).

Regardless of how well air conditioning and heating pumps have been maintained, all HVAC equipment will eventually need to be replaced due to age or obsolescence. A heat pump replacement system rated at 16 SEER can save up to 40 percent annually when compared with a 10 SEER model installed in the late 1990s or early 2000s. For heating purposes, an increase from 6.8 to 7.8 HSPF can save up to 20 percent on annual heating fuel costs.

Purchasing a new heat pump system is a significant investment in enhanced comfort and efficiency. Carefully consider the following factors when evaluating different equipment models and choosing an installing contractor:

System Design: Heat pump replacement systems should be selected based on the capacity required to meet the total heating and air conditioning load. Quality contractors run complete load calculations on every room in the building according to ACCA Manual J standards.

Fuel Costs: Utility costs can vary dramatically by geographic region. It is important to directly compare the monthly operating expense for different heating appliances after adjusting for local gas and electricity rates.

Climate: Heat pumps tend to lose efficiency as the outdoor temperature falls. When the amount of thermal energy in a given volume of air decreases, the unit must work harder to satisfy a higher internal load. In general, a heat pump is most appropriate in climates where the outdoor temperature usually stays above 32 degrees Fahrenheit. A qualified HVAC contractor, such as Shamrock Heating and Air Conditioning, can install a supplemental electric heat strip into any heat pump replacement system.

Heat pump repair

When is it best to proceed with a repair? Most experts agree that repairs are warranted if:

• You still hold a warranty on the system
• If the heat pump is less than 10 years old
• The heat pump has required no repairs
• The repair is minor and affordable.

Repairs, such as replacing the air filter and straightening coil fins are minor, and shouldn’t cost a whole lot. However, repairs like replacing the compressor or replacing the air handler’s motor are generally costly, and investing money in big repairs generally doesn’t net a good return.