How To Install A Heat Pump

Many homeowners have to deal with subfreezing temperatures every winter, but many others are fortunate to live in warmer (or somewhat warm) climates. If you fall in the latter, a heat pump is the ideal HVAC system for you.

Heat pump installation is no easy task, but some homeowners are up for the challenge. Below, I will show you all the steps and tools needed to install a heat pump without a professional.

Note: Only experienced DIYers should attempt this project. If you need help installing your new heat pump, please contact an HVAC pro near you.

How Heat Pumps Work

Heat naturally moves to areas with lower temperatures, but if you want heat to stay or move to a specific room, a heat pump is ideal. Heat pumps use electricity to move heat from a cool area to a warm one, which makes the warm space warmer in the winter and the cool space cooler in the summer. Heat pumps can either increase or decrease temperatures.

As you can imagine, heat pumps are energy efficient, compared to boilers and furnaces, and inexpensive solutions for those who spend a fortune on utility bills (more on this later).

Tools Needed to Install A Heat Pump

In addition to the actual heat pump and condenser, there are other tools necessary to install the system.

  • Drill
  • Hammer
  • Level
  • Hole Saw – ½’ Minimal
  • Pliers
  • Wire Stripper
  • Cable Tie
  • Tape

Heat Pump Installation

If you are eager to get the ball rolling and install a heat pump today, please follow the steps below.

Note: The following steps should be used to install a mini-split AC Heat Pump.

Step 1: Install the Condenser

First, we must install the condenser outside the house. The condenser is used to convert and transfer heat and air throughout the home. The condenser is essentially moving heat and air to your desired room.

The condenser must be placed outside the house. Before installation, drill a ½’ hole in the wall for the refrigerant lines. As far as placement, the condenser should be installed at least 4’ away from the house. Also, make sure there is at least 20’ of clear air above and in front. Oftentimes, homeowners have to remove bushes and flowers to make room for the condenser. You can have the unit rest on the ground or mount it, like a TV, to the wall.

Step 2: Add Air Handler Mount

Now, we have to find a place for the air handler, or the device that releases the cold or warm air into the room.

The air handler should be within 30” of the condenser. After all, a few cords will be connecting the two. The air handler should be at least 2’ from the ceiling and nowhere near a TV.

Screw in the mounting plate, the device that holds the air handler onto the wall. This is just like mounting a TV. Once the plate is securely fastened, drill a 3’ hole right below the lower right corner. This hole is to ensure we can connect all the lines.

Step 3: Mount the Air Handler

To make things easier when holding the heavy air handler, we want to make sure all lines are securely fastened into the air handler. With the cover off, connect the refrigerant lines, control wire and condensate hose. Additionally, it may be a good idea to connect the three with a cable tie or tape. Some also cover all three with a protective sleeve to ensure none rip as you’re snaking them through the walls.

With all cords attached, lift the handler and hold until all cords are in the wall. Then, mount the unit onto the actual plate. Once screwed in, make sure it is securely fastened. Just like a TV, you don’t want it falling down five minutes after installation.

Step 4: Connect the Air Handler to the Condenser

This is the step that can trip people up. Once again, if you need help or have any questions, contact a local HVAC pro near you.

After you snake the wires all the way through the walls to that outside hole, connect the outdoor unit’s power cable to a breaker cable. Then, connect the control wire from the outdoor unit to the air handler. To finalize the connection, take the ends of the refrigerant lines and connect them to the condenser. Some use flare nuts to make the final connection as an extra precaution.

Step 5: Cover the Lines

Just like those ugly television wires, the control wires and refrigerant lines are not a sightly view. Therefore, you can install a plastic covering on your siding if more than a few inches are showing. Just make sure everything is fully fastened before attaching to the wall.

Step 6: Make Final Connections

Before we add the cover to the outside unit, we have to connect a gauge manifold and a vacuum pump to the refrigerant lines. Both can detect leaks, dry the lines if needed and ensure the pressure inside the unit is safe.

Finally, go back inside and install the cover on the air handler.

Heat Pump Installation Costs

Since heat pumps replace your current or act as you new HVAC system, their upfront costs are steep. According to our heat pump installation cost estimator, it costs $4,888 to install a new heat pump system. However, since you now know how to install it yourself, there’s no need to spend extra on professional labor.

Additionally, your future HVAC costs will undoubtedly be lower compared to traditional HVAC systems. Just like any big investment, the upfront costs can be scary, but it should pay off over time.

Conclusion

Heat pump installation is no easy task, and as such, is not often completed by a homeowner. But, with the right tools and steps above, homeowners can install a heat pump without a pro.

How Basement Underpinning Can Increase Your Home’s Value

With the cost of housing increasing each year, buyers are always looking for the most value for their money. Smart homeowners recognize that they can add house value through bathroom and kitchen remodeling, basement waterproofing or increasing square footage with basement underpinning.

Utilitarian basements are no longer sufficient for today’s family needs, and older floor plans are typically considered old fashioned and impractical unless improvements have been made. Even with basement remodel costs added in, you’ll get top dollar and a great return on investment when selling your home if it includes a trendy entertainment room, office space or kitchenette. Let’s explore how basement underpinning can help.

What is Basement Underpinning?

Underpinning refers to the process of reinforcing an existing, unstable foundation or lowering the basement floor to increase the overall ceiling height. In both cases, the basement floor and soil underneath is excavated out and replaced at a lower level.

Today’s underpinning methods have remained very similar to those done a hundred years ago. The uses and benefits, however, are very different.

What is Required?

The main purpose for basement underpinning is either to strengthen the existing foundation or to vertically extend it. Either way, you’ll need to determine the reason for the work. In both cases, you’ll increase your property’s value. A crumbling or unstable foundation will need to be repaired before selling the home; and by adding more usable living space in the basement, potential buyers are more likely to pay a higher price.

Depending on the purpose of the project, one of three methods can be used:

  1. Traditional mass for shallow underpinning’ as well as beam and base that incorporates concrete beams for more support.
  2. Mini-piled with steel support beams that rest on more stable ground.
  3. Sectional excavation where grout is used to fill the area between the old and new concrete.

What are the Benefits?

If you’re trying to decide which remodeling project will provide the best return on your investment at resale, basement underpinning wins hands down. Here’s why:

  • More Value: When you open up your basement for more practical uses such as a game room, home office, media center or in-law apartment, you widen the appeal to a greater number of potential buyers. This will sell your home more quickly and at a higher price than other homes in your area.
  • Improved Structural Integrity: No matter the reason for underpinning your basement – creating more head room or accommodating an upper level expansion – the process will strengthen your home’s structure and extend its lifespan. Foundation damage can be caused from aging, soil type, extreme weather and poor workmanship. The new foundation will strengthen your entire home and reduce the risk a major structural problems.
  • Uncover Hidden Problems: The process of lowering the basement floor requires removal of a portion of the foundation and exposure of hidden mechanicals like plumbing, electrical, insulation and HVAC. This will allow for easy inspection and repair damages quickly.
  • A Healthier & Drier Home: Older basements can develop cracks and leaks over time, allowing water seepage, mold growth and musty odors. Many types of mold have been proven to cause serious health risks and the underpinning process can rectify any problem areas. You’ll improve air quality and have an opportunity to install significant waterproofing components. Incorporating a sump pump and battery backup in the newly added room will keep the area dry and free from damaging mold and mildew.
    • Added Square Footage: So often, homeowners searching for extra space opt for building above-ground additions instead of using the area right below their feet. A two-story home with a low-ceiling basement could potentially gain up to 50% more usable area by underpinning instead of building out. In addition, basement lowering can be a cost-effective and time-saving alternative to constructing another room.
    • Rental Income: It may be possible to incorporate a new or expanded entrance to your basement during the underpinning process. Doing so would allow you to turn your new space into a complete apartment. Not only would the extra income provide value to your home, but it would also help you recover the cost of the renovation work.
    • Energy Savings: While a good percentage of energy is used for heating and cooling your home, an unfinished basement and insufficient insulation can cause inefficient energy usage throughout the year. Lowering your basement can provide an opportunity to incorporate more effective insulation methods that can help reduce heating and cooling bills and add even more value to your home.

    If your home is like many older homes and you’d like to finish your basement to fit your modern lifestyle, a low ceiling height would likely cause some major remodeling headaches. Underpinning may be the perfect solution for turning an unusable area into a brand new playroom for the kids, man cave or even a private apartment for your adult children who have moved back home.

    As with any renovation work, it’s wise to consult with a professional before starting your project. You’ll want to find someone with experience in underpinning to guide you through the process. It may take a little time and money to transform your dark, dingy basement into a place that everyone will want to use, but the transformation will be spectacular and so will the added value to your home.