Heat pumps operate by taking heat in your home and transferring it outside, allowing your home to stay cooler. While this premise works great in the summer, it might be less effective in the winter when there is not enough heat outside to transfer into your home. There are many reasons why a heat pump must be supplemented by a secondary heat source in the winter.

Heat Pumps During Cold Weather

A heat pump might have a capacity of 51,000 BTU if the temperature is 47°F. However, if the temperature drops to 17°F, the BTU will drop to 33,900. As your heat pump becomes less efficient, it will not be capable of warming your home to a comfortable temperature.

Backup Heat Sources

Fortunately, your heat pump can be set up to where it can have multiple stages of heating. When your temperature drops below a certain point, the heat pump will begin to rely on electrical or gas heat as a backup. 

While the heat pump might operate alongside the electric or gas heat source initially, if the temperature falls below a certain point, such as -8°F, the heat pump will switch off entirely, and your home will rely entirely on the electric heat source. This is to protect the heat pump from wear and tear. 

Maintaining Your Heat Pump

If it gets very cold outside, your heat pump might acquire a layer of frost. This is normal, and the heat pump comes with a defrost cycle that melts the frost and ice. Cool air will be released from your heat pump. Wait 15 minutes until the defrost cycle completes. 

When your heat pump is not functioning properly, the emergency heat might turn on by itself. However, the emergency heat uses more energy than the heat pump, so you should make sure that your heat pump is serviced as soon as possible. However, your heat pump will be less likely to break down if you take these following actions:

  • Change your filters regularly
  • Never place anything on top of the heat pump
  • Make sure the outside unit is not covered with grass, debris, or snow
  • Using shade from trees and structures to keep the pump from getting too hot
  • Scheduling professional maintenance twice a year

By maintaining your heat pump, you will be able to get a lot of use out of it. However, you will still need to rely on gas or electric when the temperatures drop. For more information, contact a company like C B Lucas Heating & Air Conditioning.