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Serving Orange County

- SINCE 1981 -

Serving Orange County

- SINCE 1981 -


Hours: Monday-Friday 7:30-5:30PM
Saturday: 8:00-1:00PM


Saddleback Plumbing Heating & Air Blog

Do Central AC or Heat Pumps Need More Repairs?


If you are in the market for a new cooling system, you’ve undoubtedly heard about heat pumps. A heat pump is an alternative to traditional central air conditioning systems. They come in both ducted and ductless models, allowing for amazing flexibility. However, heat pumps cost more than central air conditioning.

A question we often get from homeowners who are considering making the switch is, “Do central air conditioning systems or heat pumps need more repairs?” It’s an important question to think about, considering that you’ll own your new system for 10–15 years and Irvine AC repair needs should factor into the overall expense. Let’s explain.

How Heat Pumps and Central Air Conditioning Systems Work

The first thing to understand is that heat pumps and central air conditioning systems operate using the same technology. This often confuses homeowners who think heat pumps use a different technology all together. Both systems work by compressing refrigerant and have similar setups, consisting of both an indoor and an outdoor unit.

The primary difference between heat pumps and central air systems is the reversing valve in heat pumps. This valve allows the heat pump to switch between cooling and heating modes, making heat pumps popular for providing year-round comfort.

Sometimes the reversing valve can malfunction or fail due to wear and tear, leading to specific repair needs for heat pumps. However, fixing a reversing valve is typically straightforward for our experienced HVAC technicians, and not all heat pumps will necessarily experience this issue. It’s more likely to occur in heat pumps that don’t receive twice-a-year maintenance.

Factors Influencing Repair Needs 

Several factors can affect the repair needs of both central AC and heat pump systems. Proper sizing and installation by a professional HVAC contractor are crucial for optimal performance. 

Regularly changing the air filter is essential for both systems and should be done every 1–3 months. For ductless heat pumps (or mini-split systems), each air handler’s filter must be cleaned, which can be time-consuming if there are multiple handlers in your home.

Tips for Minimizing Repairs and Extending Lifespan 

To reduce the need for repairs and prolong the lifespan of both heat pumps and central AC systems, regular maintenance is key. Heat pumps require maintenance twice a year, while central AC systems need it once a year. 

Heat pumps need more frequent tune-ups because they are used throughout the year, similar to the combined maintenance needs of a central furnace and a central AC.

The Bottom Line

In a geographic area like Orange County with its extended cooling season, considering the potential frequency of AC repair is important. No homeowner wants to be without air conditioning during an OC heat wave.

When deciding between central AC and heat pumps, consider factors beyond repair costs, such as energy efficiency, lifespan, and overall performance. If you’re uncertain about which system is best for your home, contact us for an honest assessment.

Contact Saddleback Plumbing Heating & Air for fast, professional AC repair services. We have served Orange County since 1981.

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