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5 Important Heat Pump Components and What They Do

What makes a heat pump so special among HVAC systems is its ability to perform double duty. Homeowners in Granbury, TX, should know how this equipment functions and what it does. Here are five critical components that enable a heat pump to work its magic:

Reversing Valve

The reversing valve is arguably the quintessential heat pump component. While other parts are certainly critical to the heat pump’s operations, the reversing valve is the only major component that heat pumps have but traditional HVAC systems do not. This is the part that allows heat pumps to reverse the direction of the flow of refrigerant whenever necessary, thereby shifting between heating and cooling modes.

Refrigerant

Though refrigerant isn’t a mechanical component, no heat pump could function without it. As refrigerant moves through the various parts of a heat pump, it alternately evaporates into a gas and condenses into a liquid, respectively absorbing and releasing heat through these phase changes.

When a heat pump is in heating mode, refrigerant absorbs heat from outdoor air, condenses indoors and releases heat into your home. When it’s in cooling mode, it sucks up the heat from indoor air, condenses outdoors and releases that heat outside. Therefore, refrigerant is the key element of heat exchange.

Evaporator and Condenser Coils

We mention these two components together because there aren’t single pieces of machinery specially dedicated to each of their two functions. Rather, heat pumps have an outdoor coil unit and an indoor coil unit. Each of these can perform either the evaporating or the condensing function, depending on whether the heat pump happens to be in heating or cooling mode.

The evaporator coils carry liquid refrigerant. As warm air passes over these coils, the refrigerant absorbs heat from the air and evaporates into gaseous form. In heating mode, the evaporator coils are in the outdoor unit, while in cooling mode, they’re in the indoor unit.

The condenser coils carry hot, gaseous refrigerant. As cooler air passes over the condenser coils, heat moves out of the refrigerant, and the refrigerant condenses back into liquid form. In heating mode, the condenser coils are in the indoor unit, while in cooling mode, they’re in the outdoor unit.

Compressor

The compressor’s job is to compress gaseous refrigerant into an even higher-pressure — and hence, higher-temperature — state. Refrigerant visits the compressor in a crucial intermediary stage that takes place after it leaves the evaporator coils but before it enters the condenser coils. The compressor’s purpose is to pressurize the refrigerant enough so that it condenses and releases heat upon reaching the condenser coils, just in case it didn’t absorb enough heat while in the evaporator coils to already be able to do so.

Fans and Motors

None of the above-mentioned parts can perform their assigned functions if air doesn’t flow to them. Heat pump fans either push out or suck in air, allowing it to move to the right places. Fan motors, in turn, are what power the fans.

Each heat pump contains two fans and two motors, one of each corresponding to one of the other. We call the first fan the circulating fan, and it is part of the indoor coil unit. It draws in air from around your home, allows your heat pump to either warm or cool it and then pushes that air into various rooms for you to enjoy.

The second fan draws in air from outdoors so that your heat pump can either draw heat out of that air (heating mode) or deposit heat into it (cooling mode). If loud banging noises start coming from your heat pump, this is a common sign of a fan malfunction, like a loose fan blade. It’s an important issue for heating repair specialists to take care of.

This tour of the anatomy of the heat pump should give you a better idea of how this kind of system works. If you want your Granbury, TX, home to reap its many benefits, call Airmasters AC, Heat, Plumbing & Electrical to ask for our heat pump services.

Image provided by iStock

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