Is a heat pump cover necessary?
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Last updated: 13 March 2024

Is a heat pump cover necessary?

As the cold winter approaches, many homeowners are contemplating whether or not to cover their heat pump. Some property owners believe covering their heat pumps is essential to protect them from snow, ice, and other debris. Others argue that covering a heat pump can cause more harm than good.

This blog post will examine the advantages and disadvantages of protecting your heat pump and provide tips to keep it secure during the chilly winter.

We've also asked experts in the industry for their opinions on the pros and cons of covering heat pumps and whether it is necessary. 

Heat pump cover with snow

Benefits of a heat pump cover

Heat pumps are an efficient and versatile heating and cooling solution for homes. It is essential to note that not all types of air source heat pumps need to be covered, but they can offer several forms of advantages. 

If you want to ensure your heat pump's longevity, a cover can protect your air source heat pump from damage. A cover can effectively shield your unit from harsh weather conditions and debris, preventing the accumulation of ice and snow. According to the IEA report, heat pumps enhance your unit's efficiency, extending your heat pump's life.

While heat pump covers can provide several benefits, using them correctly is essential to avoid damaging your unit. Remove the cover before running your heat pump or condenser unit again. Look for a breathable cover that will protect your unit from snow, ice, and other harsh elements while still allowing it to function correctly.

For heat pump efficiency

    • Please don't cover the heat pump directly: It's essential to avoid it now, as it can significantly affect the airflow needed for your unit to function correctly.
    • Use a breathable cover: Look for an air source heat pump cover that's durable, weather-resistant, and breathable. This will help protect your unit from snow, ice, and other harsh elements while allowing it to function correctly.
    • Remove the cover before running the unit: Remember to remove the covering before running your air source heat pump or condenser unit again, as failing to do so could render these heating or cooling components damaged beyond repair.
    • Consider temporary covering: Consider temporarily covering your air source heat pump if freezing precipitation is in the forecast. Doing so may prevent dents or other physical damage that must be repaired before it can be used safely.

The case supporting a heat pump cover

According to an expert from myhome.pro, many homeowners with heat pumps such as Air source, Ground source, Pool heat pump, and Ductless mini-split should cover their air source heat pumps during winter as a protective measure against the elements. They argue that this practice can safeguard the unit from strong winds, hail, and other debris that may cause damage. Furthermore, covering the pump can prevent the buildup of snow and ice on the unit, which can reduce its efficiency and lead to damage.

Some even believe it can extend the unit's lifespan by preventing rust and corrosion. However, some industry experts disagree and assert that covering a heat pump can do more harm than good. 

Heat pump cover

What to do around your heat pump

    1. Clear the area around the heat pump: Make sure there is no debris, leaves, or snow around the heat pump. This will ensure that the heat pump can function properly and efficiently.
    2. Install a cover designed for heat pumps: If you want to cover your air source heat pump, use a cover specifically designed for heat pumps. This will help protect it from the elements while allowing it to function correctly.
    3. Regularly check the cover: If you cover your air source heat pump, check the cover for any damage or wear and tear. A damaged cover can allow moisture to get in and damage the heat pump.
    4. Consult a professional: If you need clarification on covering your air source heat pump or want to ensure it is adequately protected, consult a professional. They can guide the best way to protect your heat pump while allowing it to function efficiently.

"Whether a cover is necessary or not will depend on factors such as the climate, location, and specific design of the heat pump. Heat pump covers won't be necessary in regions with mild climates and minimal environmental risks. However, in areas with harsh weather conditions, excessive waste, or potential damage from wildlife, a cover will be necessary to provide protection". Tatyana Dimitrova, Fantastic Services

The Case Against a Heat Pump Cover

Some individuals believe that covering the air source heat pump should not be used as it may trap moisture inside, resulting in the growth of mould and mildew. Additionally, it has been suggested that covers may obstruct the airflow, causing the unit to be less efficient and leading to increased energy costs.

Lastly, placing a cover on the unit may make it more challenging to access for maintenance and repairs.

Facts to note

    1. Reduced efficiency: Covering an air source heat pump can reduce its efficiency and make it work harder to maintain the desired temperature, leading to higher energy bills
    2. Damage to the unit: Covering an air source heat pump can cause damage to the unit, such as by trapping moisture inside and causing rust or corrosion
    3. Safety hazards: Covering a heat pump can create safety hazards, such as blocking the air intake or exhaust vents and causing the unit to overheat or malfunction
    4. Voided warranty: Covering a heat pump can void the manufacturer's warranty, as it may be considered improper use or maintenance
    5. Reduced lifespan: Covering a heat pump can reduce its lifespan by causing unnecessary wear and tear on the unit
    6. Reduced heating/cooling output: Covering a heat pump can reduce its heating or cooling output, making it less effective at maintaining a comfortable temperature in the home
    7. Increased noise: Covering a heat pump can increase the noise level of the unit, as the cover may vibrate or cause other noise issues

"If the cover is not designed correctly, it can impede the heat pump's performance. This is because the cover may limit the airflow that can circulate the unit, which can cause it to work less efficiently. Additionally, a cover may accumulate snow or ice, negatively impacting the unit's operation". Rick Sun, HVAC Technician 

The middle ground

While the debate over air source heat pump covers rages on, there are some compromises that homeowners can make. For example, according to another expert Mike Grijalva, Sacramento Plumbing, the heat pump cover is explicitly designed. This allows for proper airflow and can protect without restricting efficiency.

Additionally, homeowners can take steps to protect their air source heat pump without a cover. This can be done by clearing snow and debris around the unit and trimming nearby vegetation.

The heat pump performs best and saves energy when it is clean. Even though most heat air source pumps are designed to withstand extreme weather depending on your location, it is best to consult an expert. 

Homeowners should opt for covers made explicitly for heat pumps to ensure proper ventilation. These covers often include built-in ventilation or airflow holes. Following the manufacturer's recommendations and avoiding obstructing air intake and exhaust locations is critical.

Finally, it's worth noting that most heat pump covers can be expensive, with typical costs ranging from £400 - £1,000. It depends on the unit's capacity, which is separate from the price of the heat pump unit itself. This is a relatively small investment, and the potential cost of repairs due to damage from harsh weather conditions.

It is crucial to choose a durable, weather-resistant, and breathable cover that will protect your unit while still allowing it to function correctly.

Summer and Winter heat pump

Tips for protecting your heat pump in winter

Whether you decide to use a cover or not, there are several steps you can take to protect your air source heat pump during the winter months. These include:

    • Clearing snow and debris from around the unit
    • Trimming back nearby vegetation
    • Checking and replacing air filters regularly
    • Scheduling regular maintenance with a licensed HVAC professional

Taking necessary precaution

The decision to cover your air source heat pump or not is a personal one that depends on several factors, such as the climate, the location of the unit, and the homeowner's preferences. While a cover can provide benefits such as protection from debris and weather damage, it can also have drawbacks such as reduced efficiency and increased maintenance costs.

Homeowners should weigh the pros and cons before deciding whether or not to use a heat pump cover and consider alternative protection methods. Whether you use a cover or not, taking steps to protect your heat pump during winter is essential for ensuring its longevity and efficiency.

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