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How Does a Heat Pump Work?

DIY Questions and Answer February 20, 2009 Chad



Q.  How does a heat pump work?

 

A.  In the simplest sense, a heat pump takes heat from one place and moves it to the other, rather than burning fuel. In our homes, a heat pump system moves air from inside the house to the outside, or vice versa, to heat the home in winter and cool it in summer. Heat pumps are comprised of two units, one inside and one outside the house. These two units are governed by a reversing valve that switches the system from heating to cooling mode. When the home needs heat, refrigerant is pumped outdoors where it absorbs any available heat, converting it to a gas. The gas is then liquefied in a compressor and the resulting heat releases through the coils to be distributed by the fan and ductwork. When the home needs cooling, the reverse happens—the refrigerant absorbs heat from the house and pumps it to the coils outside the home.