Most common problem with air source heat pumps
As a mechanical device, every heat pump has a number of issues in functioning, in addition to a number of their advantages.
- The heat pump extracts heat from some environment (hot water, ground or air) and gives it inside of your house. This process is thermal-dependent and circumstances-dependent (the second one means that installation drawbacks may influence the functionality of a heat pump and even create a heat pump problem).
For a start, let’s have a closer look at a ground source heat pumps. 10 years ago, ground pumps used a huge site of land to be installed, and this caused a need to have a big garden or a yard. Fortunately, these times have passed and now the scheme has changed: to install a ground-source heat pump, companies drill earth inside many meters below the surface vertically or with some angle (radial) and put all circle of pipes inside one opening of modest circumference. With this type of pump, the next rule is relevant: the deeper the pipes are the better the COP (Coefficient Of Performance) is of a ground-source heat pump. This makes them efficient through the entire year and also making such system luckily not dependent on seasonal temperature fluctuations. In this case, the only kind of problems with heat pumps in cold weather in the UK can be their installation price (but it is not a problem, it’s a drawback) and the fact that it is hard to install them at winter itself because of the frozen soil. This is very easily omitted: simply pick up the right time to make installation of a system, avoiding cold weather to do that.
The solution : for especially cold winters, if the calculated temperature drops below +3 °C, which in the UK happens only in the most northern regions (or once in a lifetime), when your heat pump gives out lesser heat than it is expected, you can use additional underfloor heating system. For instance, centralized one if you have it installed in your house. Or additional electric heaters (but consider that they are the most voracious type of heating of your dwelling ever ).
Ground-source heat pump is a finest solution for either a very hot climate (when you receive a cheap air conditioning in warm weather due to features of physics of ground-source heat pumps) or for very cold climates (usually not present in the UK) when any other type of heat pump ceases to operate in line with the calculated heat return.
If to consider water heat pump, it only works when there is running water in which the pipe of a source heat pumps is immersed to collect warmth from a fluid. As soon as it freezes, water-source heat pump stops operating. At least, if you don’t take additional measures to solve an issue.
Water heat pump problem solution: install it in hot water that does not freeze (not reaches 0 °C) or install a loop of pipes deeper below the surface to reach run water 24/365 or seek for another type of a heat pump.
In the case with air heat pumps, when the temperature drops below -20 °C, it normally ceases to operate.
Air source heat pumps troubleshooting
It is possible to upgrade your current heat pump or to install it already upgraded with a set that allows its functioning in especially frosty winters down to -20 or even -30 °C. It makes such installation costlier but makes it possible for you to use air-source heat pump 24/365.
But you should always remember that normally, average winter temperature never drops below +3 °C in the UK, and it is merely impossible to see -20 °C outside your window. So, for the UK, air-source heat pumps is the best solution in the real world (especially if to consider its cost of installation that is lower than any other type of pump has).
In addition to the temperature issue, there are other common problems with heat pumps affecting their work:
1. They are dependent on electricity.
It means that you depend on the smoothness of electricity supply to your house and its price. The solution for this problem is the installation of your own energy sources: solar panels, wind electric generators, tidal generators and so on. Merging these into one system, you make your annual electricity bill zeroed. If you install home accumulators, you will provide yourself the even 24/7/365 energy flow, avoiding any possible problems. This will not only smoothen the inflow of power but also you will never depend on the cost of electricity from the external provider.
2. They usually don’t break but can require some maintenance.
You are unlikely ever face with any break of a heat pump, no matter what type of it you have selected. Although, there may be issues with their functioning. So, the entire heat pump repair can be manifested in:
- taking icicles off the outer module of an air pump (very rarely)
- taking dirt off fan blades (maybe, once a season/once a year).
The construction of a device is such that they don’t break and fluids inside their pipes don’t spill out (unless you chop them intentionally with something heavy like an axe). Though there may be a necessity to add some fluid into the system, with regular examination of their work (yearly will do just fine), the technician will do it when necessary. So, as you can see, you will unlikely face the necessity of repairing a heat pump. The same goes for their overall safety: if anything brakes, the entire system just stops and nothing blows up (which is the case with furnaces working on combustion). The liquid is also safe for health.
In addition, they may work not as efficiently for heating up the place if they are also used to heat up the sanitary water or your house isn’t properly insulated.
All figures and numbers are approximate and stated for information only. Figures for your property may vary. Subject to survey.