Sunday, January 8, 2012

Pumping Heat (or Maybe Not)

Back in September I talked about buying a programmable thermostat.  Three months later I actually got around to doing it.

What took me so long?  Well, mainly it was trying to decide what kind of thermostat to get.  I needed one for a heat pump, but was my heat pump a single stage or mult-stage unit?  I didn't know.  The previous owners didn't leave me a manual, and the heat pump itself is on the roof, where I DID NOT want to go.

I spent a lot of time looking at HVAC forums online and finally concluded that my heat pump was probably single stage, so I ordered a simple 5/2 digital programmable thermostat (one setting for weekdays, one for weekends) for a single stage heat pump.  It arrived this week, and today Dad and I tackled the installation.

Everything went fairly smoothly until we were finished and the heat kicked on - except we were getting cold air from the registers, which didn't seem right to Dad.  I told him that the "heated" air from the registers always feels cold to me, but he was sure the heat pump wasn't working correctly.  He was worried enough to eventually reinstall the old thermostat.  Heat kicked on.  Cold air from the registers.

I went online and checked around until I found documentation that said the heated air from a heat pump is only about 90 degrees Fahrenheit so it will usually feel cool compared to the temperature of a human body.  This convinced Dad to reinstall the new thermostat and leave.

After he was gone, though, I started second-guessing myself.  What if I ordered the wrong thermostat after all?

Finally, with EXTREME CAUTION, I crawled up onto the roof and checked the model number on the heat pump.  Back down the ladder, back onto the Internet.  Of course this particular model is no longer available from the manufacturer, but after some creative searching I found (and downloaded for future reference) an archived technical manual for it.  According to the manual, the new thermostat is the correct type AND the air from the heat pump on the Heat setting is significantly cooler than the heated air from a traditional furnace.

So here I sit, listening to the heat pump cycling on and off and waiting to see whether the new thermostat maintains the temperature it's set at.  If not, I guess I can switch on my space heater overnight and think about putting the old thermostat back on tomorrow.

"A man builds a fine house; and now he has a master, and a task for life; he is to furnish, watch, show it, and keep it in repair, the rest of his days."~Ralph Waldo Emerson, Society and Solitude

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