Can heat pumps really make you sick?

Heat pumps are becoming a popular and cheaper alternative to the traditional gas-fired units and HVAC systems for the heating and cooling of our properties. The most common type for residential properties is called an “air source heat pump” which is a device that transfers warm air into its coils during the winter and cool air into your home during the summer to increase your heating and cooling efficiency.

As with any device that transfers heat and cool air, you are going to have humidity and mold problems if you do not operate and or clean the unit regularly. In fact, many property owners across the globe are now discovering that there is a big problem with their heat pumps because they provide the perfect environments for mold to grow and thrive.

The main theory in the HVAC industry is that the problem is the result of the condensing coil being located before the blower motor, so the coil is under negative pressure. This will cause your pump draining system to become more problematic which will lead to excess humidity and water build up and then mold. As a result, it is very important to regularly check your heating pump and its filters to make sure that no mold is growing inside.

One simple formula for checking appliances for mold is: No excessive humidity = No mold. Excessive humidity = Mold = Check and Clean Often

Cleaning filters do not remove everything.

Here are some tips on installing, operating, cleaning and keeping your heat pump mold free:

  1. Have your heat pump installed by a certified professional who understands mold and has good advice on how to avoid it.

  2. Get the proper size unit for your property.

  3. Do NOT turn your pump off after it runs through a cooling cycle because this will cause excess moisture to build in the system and coils leading to mold growth. Instead, run your fan only for 30-60 minutes to make sure the coil is try, before you power it off.

  4. Check your system every one-two weeks for excess moisture and or mold.

  5. Clean and or dry your unit every one-four weeks.

  6. Change your filters every 2-3 months.

Have your unit professionally cleaned at least once year (twice a year if you have higher levels of dust and allergens in the air.

A properly cleaned heat pump can improve air quality, maintains the high efficiency of the unit which in turn saves you money and extends the life of your heat pump. Many warranties require that regular cleaning and maintainance be done as part of the homeowners responsibility.


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Sydney, NS, B1L 1B8

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