Carney Plumbing Heating & Cooling Blog : Archive for the ‘Heat Pumps’ Category

Replace a Centralized Furnace with a New Air Conditioning System

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

You may look at the title of this post and squint your eyes. “Huh? Why would I replace a furnace with something that does the exact opposite of a furnace? Besides, I already have an air conditioning system.”

However, what we’re proposing makes more sense than you may realize… if the air conditioning system you use to replace your furnace is a heat pump. A heat pump is, essentially, an air conditioner: it operates through the same action of cycling refrigerant from a compressor and through two sets of coils to move heat from one place to another. But there is this important difference: through a component called a reversing valve, a heat pump can change the direction it moves heat and work as a heating system as well. Instead of removing heat from inside of a home, it moves heat inside from the outside. You won’t need a furnace (or boiler) with a heat pump in your home.

When you’re looking for air conditioning system replacement in Doylestown, PA, come to Carney Plumbing Heating & Cooling first. We will help you determine if a heat pump will work as your year-round comfort solution.

Why replacing a furnace with a heat pump is a good idea

We’ve already mentioned the main heat pump advantage: you have cooling as well as heating. This means you only need to install one system and it takes up less space than having an air conditioner and a furnace packaged together.

A heat pump, aside from delivering cooling at the level of the best air conditioners, provides more energy-efficient heating than a furnace. A furnace must burn fuel to generate heat, where a heat pump uses a modicum of electricity to run its mechanisms to move heat. Government studies have shown that a family of four will save, on average, 30% from their heating bills over a winter after the switch from furnace to heat pump.

Heat pumps are also safer. If you have concerns about a gas furnace overheating or leaking toxic carbon monoxide, you won’t have any worries with a heat pump. Heat pumps don’t even have hot exteriors that children might hurt themselves on.

Professional installation of heat pumps

So many home comfort systems receive improper installation, and this accounts for the majority of their repair needs. If you want to replace your furnace with a heat pump, only rely on trained professionals with a long history of air conditioning system replacement in Doylestown, PA. Carney Plumbing Heating & Cooling has handled installations for over 30 years, and we can do the job for you fast and right the first time.

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What’s it Like to Work With Carney Plumbing, Heating & Cooling?

Friday, June 29th, 2012

Customer Review | Lansdale | Carney Plumbing, Heating & Air ConditioningA wonderful customer details their experience with Carney Plumbing, Heating & Cooling .

“I called to get estimates for a heat pump and an air conditioning unit. Joe Hill came to our home to assess our needs. Within a few days, he called to ask whether or not we would like to have a back-up heat option in the event of choosing a heat pump. He said this would require an upgraded circuit box. I told him I didn’t want the back-up heat, and he put together the proposals for both a heat pump and A/C soon after. I believe I received an email with both proposals within a week of Joe’s first coming to our home. Before I received the proposals, I called Joe with questions regarding duct work as well as financing. He answered all my questions completely and assured me that we would be much more comfortable in our home regardless of which option we selected. When we decided to use Carney to meet our climate control needs, Jose contacted us to begin the application process for financing our purchase. This process took a couple of days, and Jose answered further questions we had regarding financing. Another associate called us to schedule installation, and within about a week of letting Carney know we were interested in their services, a crew was here to begin installation of a Trane XR15 AC system. The crew removed our old heat pump and installed the new system over the course of 2 days. They had to make a slightly larger opening in our ceiling to get the new unit in our attic. But before they did this, they asked our permission. They explained that without doing this, they would have to use a smaller and less efficient unit. They covered the opening in the ceiling with a cut-to-fit piece of foam, and they cleaned up each day before they left. They explained the operation of the thermostat to my wife and left the written instructions with us. They also provided us with the paperwork for financing. We are now much more comfortable in our home during the hot summer weather. I would definitely recommend Carney to anyone with climate control needs. Thank you.”

We provide top quality heating, cooling, plumbing services in Bucks and Montgomery Counties in Pennsylvania. If you are looking for a service provider in the area, call Carney today for all of your plumbing and HVAC needs.

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Heat Pump Tip: Outdoor Maintenance

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Sometimes, the trickiest part about owning your Doylestown heat pump is keeping the outdoor components maintained. Because they are outside and generally out of sight, it can be easy to forget or neglect them. But because they are outside and exposed to the elements, outdoor heat pump components need attention and maintenance to keep them running properly.

The two most important routine maintenance functions you can do as an owner of an outdoor heat pump are keeping it free of debris and keeping it level.

Every month or so, inspect and clean your outdoor heat pump to make sure it is free of leaves, dirt and other debris. These can easily be sucked in by the fan and reduce the efficiency of the whole system. Turn the power off to the unit and use a vacuum or broom to remove any accumulated debris.

Once or twice a year, use a carpenter’s level to make sure the whole thing is sitting level on the pad. Use the level to gauge both side to side and front to back. While you are doing this, check the insulation for erosion or gaps. If you see that it is not level or the insulation is wearing thin, have a contractor come out reset the unit on the concrete pad or patch up the insulation.

These are two small maintenance tasks that you don’t have to do very often, but they can make a big difference in the performance and life of your heat pump.

In addition, you should always have your whole Doylestown heating, ventilation and cooling system inspected by a professional annually in order to keep everything maintained and in good repair.

For any questions about HVAC maintenance or to schedule your yearly tune-up, give Carney Plumbing, Heating & Cooling a call today!

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Common Questions about Heat Pumps

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Even if you installed a heat pump in your Lansdale home years ago, you may still have questions about the normal operation of your indoor and outdoor units. Here are answers to a few of the more common questions we get about Lansdale heat pumps.

Do I need to schedule a heat pump maintenance visit before each season, or just once a year?

Scheduling a yearly maintenance visit is necessary to the proper upkeep and safe operation of your Lansdale heat pump. This also extends the life of the system and helps it run more efficiently. However, scheduling a visit before the heating and cooling seasons isn’t necessary, unless you’ve had any concerns or issues with your heat pump.

Should I be concerned about the steam coming from my outdoor unit?

All heat pumps have a defrost cycle that melts the frost off of the outdoor coils in the winter. The steam rising from the outdoor unit results from the defrost cycle. If you notice that the defrost cycle lasts longer than ten to fifteen minutes, or if it cycles on and off frequently, you should call an HVAC service technician to look at your heat pump. There could be an issue with airflow that is affecting the compressor.

I just installed a heat pump. Why is my furnace running?

Many heat pump systems use the furnace fan blower to help distribute the heat throughout the house. Unless you’ve installed a geothermal heat pump, your furnace is most likely your backup heater, so it will kick on when the outside temperature drops below 20° F.

Is it really that important to clean my outdoor unit? It’s impossible to keep it clean all the time.

Yes, cleaning the outdoor unit is an especially important maintenance task. Not only does a routine cleaning of all the outdoor components maintain your heat pump’s efficiency and performance levels, it also prevents safety hazards. When you schedule a yearly maintenance visit with one of our technicians, cleaning the coils and outdoor unit is part of the service; however, if you want to clean the coils yourself, have one of our technicians show you how to do this before you attempt it on your own. You could suffer from electric shock if you are not familiar with the proper cleaning procedure. You can also help by making sure that the debris is cleared from around the outdoor unit.

If you have any questions about the heat pump in your Lansdale home, or if you’d like to schedule a maintenance appointment, give Carney Plumbing, Heating & Cooling a call any time.


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What Size Heat Pump Is Right for My Home?

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

One of the most important questions to answer when purchasing and installing any new heating or cooling system, no matter what type, is what size is best for your Doylestown home. You need something that has enough capacity to heat or cool your whole home comfortably; otherwise your house will consistently be at an undesirable temperature.

Some people might think that the quickest solution to this problem is to just buy a system that they are sure has a capacity larger than the size of their Doylestown home. You may even be tempted to get the biggest model out there, under the logic that the biggest is the best and it will be sure to be able to cover your whole house.

While this line of thinking might make sense to you, it’s actually not a good idea. The problem with this “solution” is that you can wind up with a heat pump that is considerably too large for your needs, which means your home will consistently be either too cool or too hot, and your energy bills will be unnecessarily high.

The best way to choose a new heat pump is to have a professional do a load calculation in your home. This can be a highly technical process, so it is best to leave it to the pros. However, here are some quick tips and other things to consider on the subject:

  • There are a lot of variable to consider in doing a calculation like this. A Doylestown contractor doing a load calculation will consider the type of construction, what kind of insulation you have installed, what kind of windows you have, whether there is an attic, how many people live there and many more factors.
  • It never hurts to shop around. Get a few estimates from different area contractors, rather than just going with the first opinion.
  • Also, since heat pumps are used for both heating and cooling, different contractors may opt to do the calculation in different ways. Some will estimate capacity based on heating, while others will base it on cooling. Ask to see which is the case for each estimate you receive.
  • If you are getting a new heat pump as a replacement for an existing one, or even a different heating/cooling system, check the capacity of the unit you are replacing. That can be a good place to start. You will at least be in the right ballpark.

All of this means doing some extra leg work up front, but getting the proper sized heat pump is well worth the effort.

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Do I Need to Supplement My Heat Pump With Another Heating System?

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

People often turn to heat pumps as a solution for their North Wales home heating and cooling needs because they want a single, all-inclusive system that covers all the bases. The convenience and simplicity is part of the allure of choosing a heat pump to begin with.

However, it’s not always that simple. There are situations where a heat pump is not enough to handle the needs of the whole home. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the whole idea goes out the window, but the heat pump may need some help in the form of a supplementary heating supply.

Here are some reasons/situations that may call for a supplemental heat source in North Wales in addition to a heat pump:

  1. A Cold Climate – Although heat pumps can serve as the primary heating system when temperatures drop as low as 30 degrees Fahrenheit, they have trouble keeping up when the cold snap lasts longer than a few days. In any climate where temperatures dip below this mark for a length of time, a supplemental heating system is recommended.
  2. A Large Home – Heat pumps come in many different sizes, but if yours does not have the capacity to match the size of your home, then it won’t be able to heat the whole house. It’s as simple as that. If you are installing a new heat pump, be sure to get one that is properly sized. But, if you have an existing heat pump that is overmatched by your home’s size, simply supplementing it may be the easiest solution.
  3. The Power Goes Out – A heat pumps’ use of electricity is a benefit in most situations, but unfortunately it means they are helpless when the power goes out. To avoid suffering in the winter chill when a blizzard takes out a local power line, have a backup/supplemental heat source on hand to use until the power comes back on.

Those are a few situations you may encounter in which supplementing a heat pump is a good idea. Remember, though, that each situation is different. When installing a new heat pump, consult with a North Wales installer beforehand to see if you should also have a supplemental heat system in addition to the heat pump. This is especially important if you live a cold climate.

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Heat Pump Settings and Your Comfort Level

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

Your heat pump has a number of settings that can affect your Fort Washington home’s overall comfort level. One of those settings is the fan – which can be set to run automatically when heating is needed or left on continuously so that the device never turns off. Which is better for your home, though? Let’s take a look.

Comfort vs. Economy

The reason there are two settings on your heat pump is that one is more economical. The auto setting allows the device to minimize how often it is on. So, it only turns on when the house needs warm air to maintain the thermostat setting.

On the other hand, the always on setting is designed to provide better comfort. When you leave your heat pump’s fan on continuously, it provides steady heat over time. This means that the temperature remains consistent and mixes the air to ensure there are no uncomfortable pockets of poorly conditioned air in your home somewhere.

Which Is Better?

In terms of comfort level, it depends on your needs. If you’re not too picky about the exact temperature of your home, the auto setting is best because you will save money and it tends to be fairly accurate. However, if you want to ensure you and your family are perfectly comfortable, regardless of the weather outside, the always on setting is the best way to achieve this level of comfort.

Of course, if you’re concerned about the added cost of leaving the heat pump fan on all the time, you can adjust the thermostat to even out the cost. By raising the thermostat 2 degrees in the summer and lowering it 2 degrees in the winter, the added cost of running it constantly should be offset. If it isn’t, you should have your device inspected to ensure both of the settings are properly calibrated.

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Pros and Cons of Heat Pumps

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

When deciding on any major purchase in Blue Bell, a critical step is to weigh the pros and cons. This helps you to decide on the best option and reach the best decision for your needs and preferences. You certainly know that already, but it is a step that people sometimes overlook in their excitement to get something new, so it bears mentioning.

Installing a new heating system is a perfect example of a situation in which you would need to weigh pros and cons. There are a lot of options, and not all of them are right for all people. Take heat pumps, for example. They are great devices and serve many people extremely well as home heating solutions, but they are not without their drawbacks. Below are some of the pros and cons of heat pumps to help you decide whether a heat pumps if the way to go for you.


  1. Inclusive – A heat pump not only heats your home in the winter but also cools it in the summer, thanks to a reversing valve that changes the flow of the refrigerant. Having one appliance for both heating and cooling can be very convenient.
  2. Energy efficient – Heat pumps are extraordinarily efficient when it comes to energy use. Because they simply move and distribute heat, rather than producing any on their own, they use minimal electricity.
  3. Simple – Operating on the same basic principles as your refrigerator or an air conditioner, heat pumps are relatively simple. More importantly, they simplify your life by putting your heating and cooling solutions in one package and running on electricity, so you don’t need any other fuels on hand.
  4. Inexpensive to operate – In addition to being energy efficient – which lowers your monthly energy bills – many heat pumps are eligible for federal tax credit. You can save a bundle by using a heat pump.


  1. May need supplementing in cold climates – In climates where winter temperatures stay below 30 degrees Fahrenheit for a while at a stretch, a heat pump will have trouble keeping up and need to be supplemented.
  2. Don’t work in power outage – Obviously, because they are powered by electricity, a heat pump won’t work in a power outage, unlike some other heating solutions that do not require electricity.

Although the pros clearly outweigh the cons here, the cons are important as well. Carefully consider all these factors and more while deciding whether a heat pump is the solution for you.

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What Happens if My Heat Pump Loses Power?

Monday, October 24th, 2011

One of the advantages of having a heat pump in your Lansdale home is that they operate on electricity, so you don’t need to worry about having maintaining a supply of fuel to keep yours running. Where a furnace or boiler might call for you to purchase supplies of oil or natural gas, and a wood stove means keeping potentially messy firewood around, a heat pump runs cleanly on electricity.

Heat pumps are good at using electricity, too. They are often able to produce heat energy that can be as much as three times the electricity they draw to produce it. This means not just convenience, but also a big savings, just by virtue of using electrical power.

The risk there, of course, is that if and when the power goes out, so does the heat pump. That means when a big winter storm drops a tree on the local power line, things can get cold inside mighty quickly. For these situations, you should have a backup heating solution on hand to keep everyone comfortable in the short term. And, as a responsible homeowner, you likely already have this taken care of.

But what happens when the power comes back on? Can you just fire your heat pump right back up without missing a beat?

The short answer is “no.” You should not do that, for at least two reasons. First of all, after any power outage, you should always take care to turn on appliances gradually over a period of time rather than all at once in order to avoid a spike in demand at the power company, which can blow a grid. That’s just a general tip.

Specific to heat pumps, though, there is a unique concern. If the heat pump loses power for more than 30 minutes, the refrigerant can get too cold to flow properly, so turning it right back on can cause the whole thing to conk right out. Instead, do the following:

  1. Make sure the heat pump is off. You can do this during the power outage.
  2. Once power comes back on, turn the heat pump to the “Emergency Heat” setting. This will allow the compressor to warm up slowly and get the refrigerant warm enough to start flow freely again.
  3. Wait. The time you need to wait varies depending on the size and manufacturer of your heat pump, so refer to the manual. In general, you should wait at least 6 hours.

After this process, your heat pump should be ready to resume normal operation without issue.

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What Is a Water Source Heat Pump?

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

A water source heat pump operates much like a traditional air source heat pump except that it extracts and dissipates heat by way of water instead of air. This is certainly not a type of home comfort system that will be available to anyone, but if you live in an area close to a well, lake or other natural water source, it may be an option worth considering.

All types of heat pumps can provide excellent year round home temperature control by pumping heat in during the winter months and removing it during the summer. The main difference between the types of heat pumps is where they get the heat or dispose of it.

Traditional air source heat pumps get their heat from the air outside, as even relatively cold air actually contains a substantial amount of heat. They use this heat to keep your house warm in the winter, but as the outside temperatures go down below freezing, these heat pumps can become less and less effective.

Water source heat pumps, on the other hand, work on basically the same principle as air source heat pumps, but they extract heat from a body of water rather than the air. They do this by cycling water through a system of pipes that is laid out at the bottom of a body of water. As the water cycles through, it gathers heat from the lake or reservoir and then carries it back to your house.

In the summer, the process is reversed and heat is carried out of your house and expelled in the cooler water outside. Like air source heat pumps, water source heat pumps are slightly more efficient at cooling rather than heating, as even deep water will eventually get cold during the winter months. However, the water is still often warmer than the air, and so water source heat pumps can be a good alternative if you live in a slightly cooler climate.

Of course, you do also need to have access to an appropriate body of water to have a water source heat pump installed, which makes it something that is not available to everyone. But if you do live near such a body of water, a water source heat pump is definitely something worth considering.

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