How Your Heating System Works - Part 7

We realize you don’t heat your home in the summer; that’s obvious. It’s just that we were moving along through the Home Heating 101 virtual lessons brought to you by GAMA Air and all of the sudden, its summertime all over Beverly Hills, Culver City, Mar Vista, Miracle Mile, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Los Angeles, West Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Marina Del Rey, Pacific Palisades, Brentwood, Bel Air, Westwood, Downtown Los Angeles, Vernon, Huntington Park, Sherman Oaks, Encino and the rest of the northern hemisphere! Here is a link to Part 6 where we explained what your heat pump does when the weather is at or below freezing to keep frost and ice from building up on the outdoor unit. Now let’s address the question that was raised at the end of Part 6. Remember what it was? If a heat pump defrost cycle is like running it in cooling mode, doesn’t that mean it will cool down the house? The answer is “No”. Why not? 

When your central heat pump system needs to operate in defrost mode, it has to blow air through the indoor unit. That is what provides heat to defrost the coil in the outdoor unit. However, the smart people that made the system included an auxiliary heating source. The indoor unit also has electric heating elements. These work in a very similar way to a hair dryer, just much more powerful. During the defrost cycle, while the refrigerant is running in reverse, and pumping cold refrigerant to the indoor unit, the electric heat strips turn on so you don’t feel cold air blowing into your home. Pretty smart, right?

Those electric heating elements can also serve as backup heaters or secondary heaters. Let’s say you just got home from a trip and while your family was away you set the thermostat down 6 or 7 degrees to save energy while the house was empty. That means it will be chilly when you get home and you may want to raise the temperature quickly. Heat pumps are definitely NOT rapid heating systems. They are very efficient and reliable, but I would certainly not call them ‘turbo boost heaters’. So, to help the thermostat will also turn on the electric heat strips as a secondary heat source. As soon as the temperature is only 2 or 3 degrees from where you want it then the heat strips turn off and the heat pump will finish warming up the house by itself.

Here’s another scenario, although it is very unlikely. If something happens to the outdoor unit during the winter time and it won’t be working for a day or more, then the thermostat will kick on the electric heat kit to maintain a decent temperature in the home until the outdoor unit is back up and running.

See? That wasn’t so hard! You’re a Heat Pump Expert now. What’s next on the agenda? The biggest question is: How does this help me? How can I use this knowledge about heat pumps to get the most benefit out of what I pay on my utility bills? That’s next on Home Heating 101, so stay tuned!

Need immediate help with your home’s central heat and air? The skilled technicians here at GAMA Air will be happy to help. Call us at (323) 655-6126 or use our online form to schedule a visit at a time convenient to you for a service call. We 100% guarantee your happiness with our work.

Want a quick answer to a question you have? Visit our Ask an Expert page and get a quick answer from our resident expert.

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