Polar Bear Air Conditioning & Heating Inc Blog : Archive for the ‘Heat Pumps’ Category

Does My Heat Pump Have a Refrigerant Leak?

Monday, February 12th, 2018

outdoor-unitIf it does, then you are smart to act fast. Because of the way heat pumps operate in both heating and cooling modes, it is vital they have the proper refrigerant charge for the job. Remember, refrigerant is not something your heat pump consumes in its operation, like the gasoline in a car. Instead, it is something the system recycles over and over again—more like the oil in a car.

If your heat pump is low on refrigerant, it may mean that your technician did not properly charge it—which means that you probably didn’t have it serviced by a member of our outstanding team! The other possibility is a leak. Regardless of the reason for your heat pump’s low refrigerant charge, it is a problem that needs to be dealt with as soon as possible. Continuing to run your heat pump in Capitol Hill when it is low on refrigerant can lead to some very serious problems.

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3 Benefits of the Ductless Mini Split

Monday, January 29th, 2018

ductless-blowerIf you’ve been following our blog, then you’ve probably noticed that we talk about a lot of different HVAC systems. Why? Because there are so many to cover! If variety is the spice of life, then the HVAC industry is quite spicy indeed. Of course, there is a fine line between having plenty of options to choose from, and having an overwhelming amount of options to choose from. That is why we want to help homeowners better understand the many different heaters and ACs available.

One option worth considering is the ductless mini split—and you’ll note that we didn’t say “heating” or “air conditioning” option specifically. More on that below. While there is no single HVAC system that will perfectly suit every homeowner’s preferences or the demands of every home, the ductless mini split is certainly an option that many find most appealing. Read on, and remember to schedule your HVAC services in Arlington with the pros on our staff.

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Is a Heat Pump Sufficient Year Round?

Friday, March 28th, 2014

Here in Arlington, VA, heat pumps are a viable alternative to forced-air furnaces and similar traditional forms of heating. They work as both a heater and an air conditioner year round, sending refrigerant gas through a series of coils that first heat the surrounding air and then cool it. In cooling mode, the heat pump asborbs heat from your home and transfers it outside, and in heating mode, it absorbs heat from the outside and transfers it into your home. They’re an effective and cost-friendly way to keep your home comfortable no matter what the season, but is a heat pump sufficient year round? Further south, they usually are. Here, however, they sometimes need a little help.

A heat pump’s big advantage is its efficiency. It doesn’t actually create heat or cold temperatures, it merely facilitates a heat exchange with the refrigerant running through its system. That means it uses much less energy than some other forms of heating and air conditioning, keeping your monthly costs down while providing an all-in-one option for conditioning the air in your home. There’s just one catch: that efficiency drops off considerably when temperatures approach freezing levels. Here in Virginia, we don’t get as many cold days as they do in, say, New England, but we certainly have our share of snow and ice in the winter, and a heat pump may not be sufficient during those periods.

The good news is that most heat pumps have electric resistance coils that kick on when the temperature outside gets too cold. They provide that extra bit of help the heat pump needs. You can also choose to combine your heat pump system with a back up furnace to use on very cold days.

If you’re wondering whether a heat pump is sufficient year round for your Arlington, VA home, and need some expert advice, then give us a call here at Polar Bear Air Conditioning & Heating Inc. We’re ready to help so don’t be afraid to contact us today!

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Some Common Misunderstandings about Heat Pumps

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Heat pumps are an increasingly popular choice for home comfort today, principally because they offer a two-in-one deal: heating and cooling. However, some customers feel reluctant to consider a heat pump for their Northern Virginia heating and cooling, and instead gravitate toward older systems like furnaces and air conditioners. This reticence comes from common misunderstandings about heat pumps that we would like to address.

Polar Bear Air Conditioning & Heating Inc. has seen firsthand how effective heat pumps are at providing families with comfort and savings. Although a heat pump isn’t the ideal choice for every home, you should still consider one when it’s time for your new heating and cooling installation.

Here are some of the myths about heat pumps:

Myth: Heat pumps are just a heater and air conditioner packaged together

Because heat pumps can provide both heating and cooling, people often think that they are two separate units put together in the same container. Actually, a heat pump is one mechanism that uses the same process—heat exchange—to perform its two functions. Essentially, a heat pump is an air conditioner that can change the direction it moves heat: while in AC mode, it moves heat from inside a home and puts it outside; in heating mode, it moves heat from outside and puts it inside.

Myth: Heat pumps are essentially useless in cold weather

During heating mode, the action of heat exchange moves heat from the outside to the inside. This makes it easy to imagine that during cold weather, the heat pump won’t work as a heater: where is it getting warmth from the outdoor air? However, as long as there is molecular motion in the air, there is heat available for heat exchange. Heat pumps can lose efficiency when the temperature drops below freezing, but they are far from useless; and in milder cold weather they are very effective. Most heat pumps have a back up heat system to make sure your home is warm no matter the weather.

Myth: Heat pumps won’t pay off their installation costs

First, as far as air conditioning goes, heat pumps are the same efficiency as a standalone air conditioner of comparable size. Second, heat pumps are a very efficient way to heat your home. Especially when compared to electric furnaces, heat pumps are extremely energy-efficient. Most heat pumps will pay back their installation costs in three years.

Our trained technicians at Polar Bear Air Conditioning & Heating Inc. have brought quality cooling and heating to Northern Virginia since 2001. You can trust us to find the heat pump that will keep you and your family comfortable all year long.

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Washington, DC Heat Pump Tip: Why Your Heat Pump Isn’t Heating

Monday, October 28th, 2013

If you have a heat pump installed in your home, you’ll expect it to fulfill both sides of its heating and cooling bargain: air conditioning during hot weather, heating during cold weather. With the chilly temperatures now crawling up on us in Washington, DC, you might find that your heat pump is failing on the “heat” promise. What might cause this, and what can you do to get the heat levels you need?

Polar Bear handles Washington, DC heat pump installation, repair, and maintenance—we know what sort of problems you may encounter with the heat pump in your home, and we are ready to help. Contact us to schedule an appointment.

Why you might not get heat from your heat pump

Before investigating any possible serious malfunctions with your heat pump, make sure that you have it set correctly. Check the thermostat to see that the pump is in “heating” mode, not “cooling.” Make certain that the current programming in the thermostat (if you have a digital, programmable model—and you should) isn’t causing it to shut off at the wrong time.

There is the possibility that the thermostat has developed a fault and is sending the wrong instructions to your heat pump: this is a common occurrence, but one that technicians will have little trouble addressing.

If the heat pump is experiencing issues, the likely reasons are a malfunctioning reversing valve or compressor. A heat pump needs two compressors and the reversing valve to change from air conditioning to heating.

Another possibility to consider is the temperature outdoors. Heat pumps draw heat from outside to warm your home. Even when it’s cold outdoors, there is still some heat available. However, at extreme cold temperatures, heat pumps will struggle to operate efficiently. This will become noticeable when the outdoor temperature drops below 35°F. Then your auxiliary heat will turn on to keep your home comfortable. However, if there is an issue with your electric resistance coils, then your heat pump will not be able to heat your home.

Another issue can be the defrost cycle. When the heat pump is absorbing heat from the outdoor air, ice can form on the evaporator coils. Usually, your heat pump will have a defrost cycle that runs periodically to melt this ice and allow your heat pump to function. However, if there is a problem with your defrost cycle, the ice can build up on the coils and prevent them from absorbing the heat from the air.

Heat pumps won’t work for all homes and all weather conditions. If you discover that your heat pump isn’t malfunctioning and simply cannot cope with the extreme cold, you may need to get a replacement model, a larger heat pump, or a back-up system.

Heat pump repairs require service from professional HVAC technicians. If you can’t explain why your heat pump has stopped giving you heat, contact us right away. With more than a decade of experience, we can find out the source of the problem and devise a solution that will restore your warm indoors as quickly as possible. Give your Washington, DC heat pump the finest care— call Polar Bear Air Conditioning & Heating!

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Can I Save Money with a Heat Pump in Arlington, VA?

Monday, April 8th, 2013

Heat pumps make a great addition to any home in Arlington, VA. They are widely recognized to be one of the most energy efficient ways to cool your home, and they also work during the heating season to provide warmth and comfort. This type of flexibility allows you to save money. If you’re in the market for a new air conditioning system, consider a heat pump. Most importantly, though, make sure you opt for reliable and professional installation so you know your system will work well for years to come. If you need a heat pump in Arlington, VA, call the pros at Polar Bear Air Conditioning today!

Let’s take a look at how a heat pump works. Heat pumps work just like air conditioners. They extract warm air from your home, blow it over the cool refrigerant in the evaporator coils, and return the cooled air into your home. The refrigerant has now been pressurized by the warm air and is sent through to the compressor, where the heat exhausts outside. The cycle then repeats itself. The essential principle behind the heat pump is heat transfer, although we often think of it merely as cool air entering our homes.

But heat pumps are more versatile than your average air conditioner. They are equipped with a device that allows the refrigerant to work in reverse, so that they can draw heat from even the coldest temperature outside to warm the cold air removed from the inside of your home and thereby heat your home. This type of versatility makes them incredibly energy efficient. And that means you save money.

One of the most important things to keep in mind as you shop for heat pumps is their size. For your heat pump to operate correctly, it needs to be properly sized to your unique living space. This requires professional assessment not only of the volume of air in your living space, but perhaps also considering the placement of the heat pump equipment. Professional installation will go a long way towards making sure that your heat pump continues to save you money on your energy bill throughout the year. For more information about our Arlington, VA heat pump and air conditioning services, call Polar Bear Air Conditioning today! 

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Washington DC Heating Guide: How to Maintain High Efficiency Filters to Reduce Stress on Your Heat Pump

Monday, September 24th, 2012

The filter on your heat pump is an integral part of your Washington DC home’s comfort system. Without that filter, the device will quickly be subjected to an influx of debris and contaminants that can get into the machinery and the air being filtered into your home. As a result, you need to make sure you properly maintain the filters to reduce stress on your heat pump.

Change Your Filters

High efficiency filters are designed to remove as much of the airborne contaminants in the air as possible. This is fantastic for keeping your indoor air clean. But if you don’t properly maintain the filter, air quality can worsen and your heat pump is put under unnecessary stress. Specifically, the extremely tight knit filter, designed to stop nearly anything from getting through, gets clogged.

Now your Washington DC heat pump is forced to work much harder to draw the air it needs from outside and heat or cool your home. On top of that, the filter is filled with contaminants that can start to leak back into the air supply, actually making your indoor air quality worse than it would be otherwise. That’s why it is so important to clean your filters on a regular basis (for permanent filters) and replace them if they are one time use.

Recommended Filters

You have options as to which types of filters you use for your heat pump. Filters come in multiple options, from super high MERV rated filters that trap up to 99% of all contaminants as small as 0.3 microns.

Electrostatic filters are especially efficient because they extract contaminants of all types – from dust and mold to smoke and gas fumes. A good filtration system should effectively remove anything from the air without needing replacement too often.

Permanent filters tend to offer the best protection against airborne contaminants and generally need to be cleaned once a month. HEPA filters are often permanent and while each filter is different, these are often extremely effective at minimizing contaminants in the air without putting stress on your heat pump.

We all know that high efficiency filters are great to have in your home because they remove contaminants from the air. This keeps your indoor air clean and healthy by preventing pollutants from circulating throughout your forced air system. But what most people don’t know is that if you don’t maintain your air filters, they can actually cause your heat pump to work much harder. When high-efficiency filters get clogged, they can restrict airflow and cause stress to your heat pump. Not to mention making your indoor air quality worse! The contaminants that were caught by the air filter might now start getting back into the air supply, actually making your indoor air quality worse. It is easy to see why it is so important to change your air filter regularly, especially if they are high efficiency.

To schedule a maintenance appointment for your Washington DC heat pump today, call Polar Bear Air Conditioning!

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Washington DC Heat Pump Guide: Common Heat Pump Performance Problems

Monday, September 10th, 2012

The heat pump in your Washington DC home needs to work year round to provide heat and air conditioning. This is why you want to make sure it’s performing as efficiently as possible to save on energy costs and prevent break downs. You should schedule an annual maintenance check-up and inspection with a certified HVAC technician to test the efficiency levels.

However, there are a few common causes of performance issues to be aware of so that you can be sure your Washington DC heat pump performs at optimal levels. Call Polar Bear if you have questions about heat pump performance issues, or to make an appointment for an annual inspection and professional cleaning.

Airflow Issues

There should always be a certain amount of airflow (measured in cubic feet per minute) in your heat pump to maintain proper efficiency levels. If the airflow is less than 350 cfm per ton, it could increase your energy costs. You should make sure your HVAC contractor checks the airflow whenever your heat pump is inspected. Always keep the coils clean. Sometimes the ducts are not the right size, or the fan speed needs to be increased, but often cleaning the coils will help airflow, which is why it is important to clean and maintain the components of your heat pump. A certified technician will know what methods are best, so if you suspect an airflow problem with your heat pump, call a professional heating technician.

Air Leaks in the Duct System

Inefficient or poorly-designed duct systems may not distribute air properly throughout your home because of potential air leaks. There should always be a balance between the intake and return air in a forced air system, which helps maintain a neutral pressure within the house and increase efficiency. Some contractors argue over how tightly a house should be sealed for this reason, but if your heat pump is losing heat through leaks in the air ducts, this will greatly affect its efficiency.

Improper Refrigerant

Refrigerant leaks are another common cause of low performance levels in heat pumps. Most heat pumps already have refrigerant when they leave the factory and shouldn’t have any issues. Heat pumps that are charged with refrigerant when they are installed can sometimes have the wrong amount of refrigerant. Either too much or too little refrigerant will lower the heat pump’s efficiency and performance levels. Always check the recommended refrigerant amount or ask an HVAC technician before you add refrigerant yourself.

If the heat pump in your Washington DC home isn’t working properly, it is also affecting your heating bills. Call Polar Bear today to set up an appointment.

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Heat Pump Maintenance Tips from Washington DC: What Happens When You Neglect to Maintain Your Heat Pump System

Monday, August 27th, 2012

Just like any HVAC system, the heat pump in your Washington DC home needs routine maintenance and yearly check-ups to operate as efficiently and safely as possible. You also don’t want your heat pump to wear down to the point of a major malfunction or breakdown, which can be costly to repair or may require a complete system replacement.

Here are some things that could go wrong and cost you a lot more in the end if you don’t keep up with the regular maintenance of your Washington DC heat pump.

Damage to the Compressor

The compressor in a split-system heat pump works whether you are heating or cooling your home. In the winter, the compressor reverses the flow of the refrigerant to defrost the outdoor coils, and in the summer it supplies the refrigerant to cool the home, as well as cooling the outdoor coils. Proper airflow is vital to keeping the compressor running smoothly. Filters that are not changed regularly, dirty coils, and dirty fans can all restrict airflow, which will damage the compressor. Debris around the outside components should also be cleared to allow proper airflow.

Decreased Efficiency

When dirty or broken components restrict the airflow, this damages the compressor and decreases the heat pump’s efficiency levels.  Not only is it important to clean your heat pump regularly, but you should also have it checked by a certified heating technician once a year. This will also prevent safety hazards and other hidden issues with the heat pump.

Improper Refrigerant Levels

Most heat pumps are charged with refrigerant at the factory; however, if models that are charged when they are installed are not given the right amount of refrigerant this can also affect performance levels. Refrigerant leaks and other common problems can be prevented by scheduling an annual maintenance visit with one of our qualified technicians.

Don’t wait until the heat pump in your home stops working, call Polar Bear Air Conditioning to schedule your yearly check-up today!

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Derecho Thunderstorm, No Phone Service, No Air Conditioning The Top 3 Reasons To Like Your A/C Company

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

Why “like” or “follow” your air conditioning company on Facebook or Twitter?  To communicate and get help in an emergency.  We all learned the importance of social networks from the Derecho thunderstorms on June 29.  At Polar Bear Air Conditioning, although our phone lines were powered by generator and our crews were working, our phone company did not have power and therefore our customers could not reach us through our main number, even forwarded to our cell phones.  Over one million DC area residents also lost power in our homes, but many of us were able to travel to Wifi hot spots with power to recharge our devices and access the Internet.

For those customers who were able to access our website, we posted an emergency number on our homepage.  Wouldn’t it be great in a similar State of Emergency to receive a Tweet or Facebook post from your air conditioning and heating company, with an emergency number to reach us?  Polar Bear Air Conditioning will do this in all future emergencies that involve heating, air conditioning and communication issues for our customers.  But we need your help.  In the coming weeks, we will be contacting our customers and asking you to like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, or you can do that now by choosing the links on our home page.  We will ask you if you only want to be contacted in emergencies, or would like to receive newsletters and special offers no more than 4 times a year.  You can also opt to be contacted by email.  We will never sell or share your information with 3rd parties, and you will not receive more than 4 promotional emails a year.

We hope to not experience another Derecho for several years.  However, our goal is to be ready to communicate with and help our customers through all States of Emergency in all four seasons.  Have a quiet and cool summer.

Your friends at Polar Bear Air Conditioning and Heating, Inc.

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