How Can You Tell If You Have a Heat Pump: Ways to Identify

Knowing whether you are having a heat pump or an air conditioner comes with a lot of benefits. It spares you from costs that you could have spent on unreasonable service calls. Many customers ask whether the machine is a heat pump or an air conditioner during an inspection.

It’s not easy to tell from a glance view; these two gadgets resemble each other. If you fall under this category of people, then you don’t have to worry anymore.  This article provides you with detailed information when identifying a heat pump.

Ways to identify a heat pumphow can you tell if you have a heat pump

Inspect the thermostat

Carefully inspect your unit to determine whether it features a setting marked “Emergency Heat” or not. If the device has the mechanism, know that you’re using a heat pump.

The Emergency Heat mechanism is essential in activating the electric strips or natural gas burner. Such action helps ensure there’s enough heat whenever a heat pump problem arises. It’s also beneficial if the unit fails to meet the demands.  Therefore, the availability of an Emergency Heat in a unit set is a clear indication that you own a heat pump.

 Insulated refrigerant lines

Here is another determinant that the unit you have is not an air conditioner but a heat pump. Scrutinize the suction and liquid at the outside company. If both these components are insulated, chances are high what you’re using is a heat pump.

However, you should know that most contractors in heating sectors don’t take this too seriously; they feel it’s unnecessary to insulate the wires. So, following the manufacturer’s installation guide is always a great idea. But, once you’ve seen the insulated suction and liquid components on the unit, the machine is a heat pump.

 Inspect the data plate of the manufacturerInspect the data plate of the manufacturer

Some manufacturers care about its consumers, sparing them from hassles in identifying the unit. However, this can be a dead giveaway sometimes. Your model number can come with an ‘HP‘ or ‘Heat Pump.’ These simples have a similar meaning, implying that the machine is a heat pump and not an air conditioner.

If you still hold some doubts after seeing either of these indicators, inquire from the manufacturer. Try recording the model number to examine more info from the manufacturer’s website. Sometimes you may decide to use the service provider number and call customer care directly.

Does the unit have a reversing valve or not

Scrutinize the unit and determine whether it features a reversing valve or not. Spotting a reversing valve in some models is straightforward, but some will force you to open the cabinet. It doesn’t matter; what you need to do is determine whether your company has the mechanism.

A reversing valve is significant in diverting the refrigerant flow direction. The feature can only be found in a heat pump, not in other machines. Therefore, whether you open the cabinet or not, you need to know if there’s a reversing valve. If it doesn’t have, then it’s something else; maybe an air conditioner.

 Is the unit cold outside?

Check and touch the interior part of the unit; with a lot of care. If it’s operating, but the outside is cold, it’s likely to be a heat pump. Being a heating unit, the body should be cold, not the way you think it should be warm. A heat pump operating with a hot interior part could be signaling a serious problem.

On the other hand, an air conditioning system should have a bit of a warm body. Such a machine with shallow temperature, yet it is operating, can notify a critical issue.

Anyways, after touching the outside of the unit and confirmed to be cold, don’t hold doubts anymore. It’s a heat pump since it operates quietly and smoothly.

 Seek advice from a Home Inspector Seek advice from a Home Inspector

If you have tried the above ways and still not in an excellent position to determine whether the unit you have is a Heat pump, seek an expert’s help. Contact your area Home Inspector to get more information about the machine you own.

Sometimes you can allow them to visit your home and inspect the unit you use. Besides, wait until the care and maintenance expert comes to your home. Don’t hesitate to ask him such questions; it’s right to know what you are precisely using in your backyard.

Frequently asked questions: 

  •  Can heat work when the AC compressor isn’t in good condition?

The compressor is made to go off immediately after a certain heat level. This art helps the unit not get damaged; however, the continuous overheating may irrevocably destroy the compressor. Remember, when the refrigerant is extremely low, the pump doesn’t operate.

So, the compressor should be lubricated using sufficient refrigerant.

  •  Does Ac Unit have heat?

HVAC means heating, ventilation, and air conditioning units. These units are essential for cooling and heating your home. Some of the products that fall under this category include; air conditioners, furnaces, ductwork, thermostats, heat pumps, etc.

  • What are some of the drawbacks of a heat pump?

Regular maintenance has never been an easy task. You need to clean the indoor unit’s filter regularly and service the system every 2 to 3 years.

Efficiency loss as temperature goes below 6-7 degrees Celsius. Thank God some models can ensure heat production in temperatures below -15 degrees Celsius.

  • Are heat pumps long-lasting?

Most of these units can last from 12-15 plus years. They are reliable, mainly in today’s modern homes.


Learn to have your air conditioning systems inspected at least once per year. It doesn’t matter with what you’re owning; regular care and maintenance are essential in determining their lifespan. Besides, you will be enhancing the systems to works efficiently, safely, and reliably.

Hopefully, this article has helped you identify whether the unit you own is a heat pump or an air conditioner. It doesn’t matter whether you rent or own a home; it’s always advisable to understand what type of HVAC unit you have.

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