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.
- Hole Saw - ½’ Minimal
- Wire Stripper
- Cable Tie
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.
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.