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With another infamous Boston winter looming on the horizon, it’s vital for homeowners to prepare their ductless, mini-split heat pumps for biting temperatures.

While modern air-source heat pumps can handle Boston’s frigid winter temperatures thanks to technological advances, the following tips can help keep them operating at optimal performance.

See some performance and efficiency boosting tips below.

Have an HVAC Professional Perform Routine Maintenance

Improved thermostatic expansion valves, coil designs, electric motors, and two-speed compressors have made today’s ductless, mini-split heat pumps more efficient and effective than ever before.

But all the fancy bells and whistles in the world can’t make up for routine maintenance, especially when it comes to ductless, mini-split systems.

Fortunately, because you chose a ductless heat pump, your home won’t be prone to all of the efficiency-robbing problems leaky ductwork can cause.

Maintaining the appropriate refrigerant levels, however, can be an issue with mini-split heat pumps because they are charged in the field. Too little or too much refrigerant can hinder performance and efficiency.

So, have your HVAC technician measure the airflow first and then the refrigerant charge. Check the temperature and pressure readings against those listed by the manufacturer. If these measurements match, you can expect your system to perform close to the manufacturer’s listed HSPF and SEER. If not, the technician needs to add or withdraw more refrigerant.[1]

Keep the Unit Running When You’re Away

Your ductless mini split might not be able to warm up your home as quickly as you’d like in freezing temperatures because it’s designed to move heat rather than create it. That’s why it’s so much more efficient than a furnace or boiler.

So, keep the unit running while you’re away for short periods of time. That way, it keeps circulating warm air into your home and cool air out of it.

For example, if your family is gone for most of the day at work and school, you can turn down the indoor temperature instead of turning off the system altogether. Even at a lower setting, your unit can keep your home warm.

By the time you get home and adjust the setting, it won’t take long before the temperature is up to your liking.

Protect the Outdoor Unit From the Elements

Protecting your unit’s outdoor condenser from the elements is one of the most important steps you can take to keep the entire unit running optimally during the wintertime.

Positioning the condenser under some sort of cover like an overhang or roof can help protect it from potentially harmful precipitation and debris. Be sure to leave enough space above the unit so air isn’t prevented from circulating properly.

The same spacing rules apply when deciding where to locate your unit. While you want it protected from harsh winds and other inclement weather, there should always be enough room to allow the condenser to draw in air.

Your outdoor unit should be elevated to prevent it from coming into contact with the wet ground as the snow and ice melt.

Using a qualified ductless HVAC contractor can help ensure all of these installation strategies are followed.

Prevent the Drain Pan from Freezing

It’s common for outdoor coils to experience frost buildup when using a mini split to heat your home. To prevent this frost from impacting performance, make sure your condenser is in defrost mode. When flipped on, this setting melts the frost which gets collected in a drain pan located lower in the unit.

If temperatures dip too low, this dripping water can freeze even before it can reach the pan. At times, the defrost mode isn’t sufficient for preventing the buildup of ice. This can keep the condenser’s fan blades from moving properly. The expanding ice can even get in between the coil’s fins and lead to damage.

Fortunately, drain pan heaters are specifically designed to tackle this problem. This device hooks up directly to the condenser’s control board and automatically kicks on when temperatures reach freezing. By protecting the drain pan and other elements from freezing water, a drain pan heater can prevent the condenser from incurring serious damage.

Keep An Eye Out for Any Problems

While preventing winter-related problems is ideal, you may not be able to get ahead of them all. If you notice anything that seems a bit off, be sure to contact a reputable ductless, mini-split professional. You don’t have to wait until your system stops working completely to reach out for help.

Even seemingly small hiccups could be indicative of much larger problems. It’s better to have a quick inspection to eliminate any concerns than to ignore the problem only to have more damage to deal with in the future.

Heat Pump Maintenance this Winter

There are some specific steps Boston homeowners can take to ensure their ductless heat pump system works optimally throughout the cold weather.

These minor maintenance strategies can end up having a major impact on the ability of your unit to heat your home properly.

It’s all about getting ahead of potential problems in order to save time, money, and energy.

If your ductless, mini-split heat pump needs some professional maintenance, feel free to book an appointment today with a Boston Standard Plumbing team member.

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