How Do Heat Pumps Work?

Of the many HVAC technology trends to come out in the past few years, heat pumps have shown the most potential. Heat pumps function differently than other traditional resistance-based heating and cooling systems. While these systems normally use air or water to provide cool or warm temperatures, heat pumps accomplish the same by moving around heat itself. This means heat pumps work as either a heater or an air conditioner, depending on the needs of the season.

Heat pumps do have limitations, the biggest of which is that they’re best suited for homes mild or temperate climates. This is because the amount of heat they can produce isn’t enough to meet the demands of harsh winters. Regardless, they’re still very versatile systems that provide many advantages to many homes.

Let our experts at McLay Services walk you through the components that give heat pumps their effective functionality:


Compressors aren’t unique to heat pumps. In fact, if you’ve had an AC repair in the past, you may have already seen the compressor in a traditional air conditioning unit. Compressors are large, bulky components that are located outdoors. The coils in a compressor help cool the air in a home with the use of a refrigerant.

In a geothermal heat pump, these coils are usually buried underground in order to use the temperature difference between your home and the earth to move heat around. Air source heat pumps will have compressors that closely resemble a traditional AC compressor.

Air Handling System

The air handler is the primary distribution apparatus of any HVAC system. This unit is found inside your home and includes the registers, vents, air filter and blower fan. The air handler components of a heat pump aren’t that different from other systems.


Heat pumps are also controlled with a thermostat, which can benefit from a surge protector for AC units to help prevent electrical problems. The thermostat is where you adjust the temperature to determine how much heat a heat pump will generate or remove from your home.

At McLay Services, we’re your leading provider of heat pump installation, repair and maintenance. Give us a call at (909) 392-2202 or fill out our contact form to schedule a seasonal tune-up and request a free estimate on new heat pumps today. We serve homeowners in La Verne, CA, as well as other surrounding communities.

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