Wed 30 Nov 2011
I went on a call the other day, a “no heat” call, and when I told the customer she was low on Freon she just kind of stared at me and asked what Freon had to do with her heating system.
I get that question more often than you might think. A lot of folks believe that Freon is only used to cool a home, not heat it.
Well, here at heating Virginia Beach, we like to set the record straight. Yes, Freon is used to not only cool your home but it is used to heat it as well… If you have what’s called a heat pump.
A heat pump will simply send Freon in a particular direction through the system depending on what comfort mode you are in. In the AC mode the cold Freon will go to the indoor unit and pick up heat from the home and discharge it outside.
In the heat mode it does the exact opposite. It picks up heat out side and brings it inside.
I know that sounds counter intuitive because it is cold outside so how would we be picking up heat, right?
Well, the awesome thing about Freon is we can manipulate how cold or hot it gets by applying pressure to it. This is a bit technical but for the sake of argument, believe me when I say I can get the Freon down to 10 degrees or up to 150 degrees depending on how much pressure I apply to it in the system.
Sending 10 degree Freon through the outdoor unit on a 40 degree day will allow me to still pick up heat and bring it inside where I can apply pressure and get it up to 140 degrees or so… pretty cool, or warm actually.
So you might be asking why you only notice the system not working correctly in the summer when the Freon is low and not in the winter.
Well, heat pumps have a secondary heat source called auxiliary heaters which use electric resistance heating like an oven does.
We need this because on really cold days there is not a lot of heat to absorb outside and the system would not be able to keep up so those heaters kick in to help out.
Now, if your Freon level is low it acts the same way. The unit can’t keep the house warm so the thermostat brings on the electric heaters and unless you stare at that little green light on the thermostat that tells you the electric heaters are running, you won’t notice the difference… Untill you get your electric bill!
When those heaters stop working you will have no heat and that’s when you give us a call and I tell you the Freon is low… and you need new electric heaters as well.
Anyway, Heating Virginia Beach will be doing more articles on heat pumps so check back often and if you notice that little green light on all the time or your outdoor unit has ice on it, give us a call right away!