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How to Tell If You Have a Heat Pump or a Conventional System

Unless you have lived in your Maryland home when the current heating system was installed, you may not be able to tell which kind of HVAC system you have just by looking at it. Determining whether you have a heat pump or a conventional system can be difficult, as the equipment can appear very similar. In our most recent blog, the HVAC system technicians at Grove Heating & Cooling will help you size up your heating system and determine which type is installed in your home.

Heat Pump and Conventional Heating Differences

To cool your home, heat pumps and conventional heating and cooling systems operate in the same way – they move heat from inside to the outdoors. This similarity can make it difficult to determine if you have a heat pump or a conventional system.

Where heat pumps and conventional HVAC systems really differ is in the way they heat. A heat pump runs its heating process opposite of its cooling process, moving heat from outdoors to the inside of the home to add warmth. Conventional boilers and furnaces function differently by burning fuel to generate heat. Heat pumps are able to function as a heating and cooling system, an attribute that many Maryland homeowners appreciate.

Central heat pumps and furnaces are both types of forced air heating systems. Air heated by transferring warmth from the heat pump is distributed through the home’s duct system to heat your home. Once air is heated by the furnace’s combustion process, it also cycles through ducts to reach living areas. Boilers heat water, which is then piped through the home and emitted using radiators to provide radiant heat.

Furnace and boiler system components sit inside the house, while heat pumps have indoor and outdoor components. A furnace is a single metal cabinet installed vertically or horizontally. Boilers have two indoor components, including a furnace and a vessel that holds hot water. In a heat pump system, the actual heat pump is the outdoor unit that closely resembles a traditional air conditioner. It moves heat between the heat pump and the air handler, which sits inside – this is known as a split system, as half the equipment is indoors and the other half is outdoors.

How to Tell If You Have a Heat Pump or a Conventional System

When you need to know whether you have a heat pump or a conventional system, the best way to solve this mystery is to inspect the outdoor unit. Look around the exterior housing to find an attached metal plate that lists the model number and other information. If this plate does not specifically say whether the unit is a heat pump or an air conditioner, write down the model number.

Next, search the unit’s brand and model number online. There are countless resources online that are helpful as you learn how to tell if you have a heat pump or a conventional system. With the model number to your outdoor unit, you can likely access the owner’s manual online, which comes in handy if the original is missing.

If an internet search turns up empty, there is one more thing to try to determine if you have a heat pump or a conventional system. Turn your thermostat to HEAT mode and adjust the temperature until the thermostat triggers a heating cycle. Once the heating system is running, go back outside to the exterior unit – if this equipment is on and blowing air, it’s a heat pump.

Contact Grove for Help with Your Heat Pump or Furnace

Knowing how to tell if you have a heat pump or conventional system is helpful when you experience troubles with your heating system. When you call Grove Heating & Cooling for service, let us know what type of system your home has. If you still aren’t entirely sure, don’t worry – our technicians will definitely find the answer during your service call. Schedule your appointment today!

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