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Ground Source Heat Pumps

Operation and Maintenance

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Ground source heat pumps require less operation and maintenance tasks than combustion heating appliances.
Additionally, since heat pumps have no on-site combustion or fuel storage, they are safer to operate than combustion
appliances. In a sense, a GSHP is similar to a refrigerator – the appliance operates quietly in the background but does require
some small tasks to ensure peak operating efficiency.

Both the system owner and the installation contractor are essential for the correct operation and maintenance of a GSHP. The contractor who installs the system should explain needed maintenance and how the owner can ensure the GSHP is operating properly. The contractor can set up a maintenance schedule for self-administered tasks, such as changing the filters for a forced air distribution system or switching controls to change from heating to cooling mode.
The contractor can perform periodic tasks, such as a regular check-up of the heat pump components and connections. Next, the appliance manual will list maintenance tasks, operation tips, and will also help troubleshoot if there is a problem.

In general, a heat pump has an estimated lifespan of about 25 years. The ground loop can be used for 50-plus years. The high-density polyethylene pipe used in the typical ground loop installation is durable, and leaks are uncommon; however, a leak in the ground loop will need to be corrected, either by finding and fixing the leak or closing off a portion of the ground loop. The solution to an in-ground leak will depend on the type of system. Additionally, some installers may warranty their ground loops for leaks; this is good information to know when choosing an installer. Refurbishing may be an option at the end of these life spans, yet with advances in monitors, circuitry, and software buying a new unit may be cheaper and more efficient.

Resources

U.S. Department of Energy. (2012). “Geothermal Heat Pumps.” Retrieved Nov.14, 2014, from http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/geothermal-heat-pumps