Heat From Air

Common Problems with Air Source Heat Pumps: Understanding and Overcoming Challenges.


As the demand for sustainable and energy-efficient heating systems continues to rise, air source heat pumps have gained massively popularity in the UK.

These systems offer an eco-friendly alternative to traditional heating methods, utilising renewable energy from the air to heat homes and buildings. However, like any technology, air source heat pumps are not without their challenges.

In this article, we will explore some of the common heat pump problems common and provide insights into how to address them effectively.

Poor Design.

Nearly all common heat pump problems can be traced back to a poor initial design. If the designer/installer hasn’t undertaken suitable or accurate heat loss calculations for the building, properly designed the heat pump or the heating distribution system (radiators/underfloor heating) then it is likely that the system will operate poorly.

There is a very simple solution to this issues which is to ensure you get your system installed by a professional who has valid experience. There are many “cowboys” who present themselves as professionals but will leave you with a dodgy installation. Be 100% sure you are using professionals!

Reduced Efficiency in Cold Temperatures.

One of the primary concerns with air source heat pumps is their reduced efficiency during cold weather. Air source heat pumps extract heat from the outdoor air and transfer it inside the building. As the outdoor temperature drops, the heat available in the air decreases too, making it more challenging for the system to achieve desired indoor temperatures.

To combat this issue, modern air source heat pumps are equipped with advanced technology that allows them to operate efficiently even in cold conditions (up to -20 degrees Celsius). Additionally, homeowners can optimise their system’s performance by ensuring proper insulation, minimizing heat loss, and considering a backup heating system for extremely cold periods.

Luckily in the UK, we don’t tend to see temperatures that low, even during the depths of winter. If you need any more reasons to believe these system will work supremely well during winters, just factor in that Scandinavian countries currently dominate the European Heat Pump Race. And winters over there are blisteringly cold!

Noise Generation.

Another one of the common heat pump problems is the noise they produce during operation. The source of noise can vary, including the outdoor unit’s fan, compressor, or the water pump in a water-based heat pump system. Excessive noise levels can be a nuisance, particularly if the outdoor unit is situated close to living areas or neighbouring properties.

Manufacturers have been working to reduce the noise levels of air source heat pumps through improved design and engineering. When selecting an heat pump, look for models specifically designed for quiet operation. Additionally, proper installation, including vibration isolation mounts and strategic placement, can help minimise noise disturbances.

Need for Adequate Space.

Air source heat pumps require sufficient outdoor space for installation. The outdoor unit, which houses the compressor and heat exchanger, needs an open area to draw in air. Limited outdoor space can pose a challenge for homeowners, particularly those residing in urban environments or properties with restricted outdoor areas.

If space is a concern, consider compact or slimline models that have been designed for smaller outdoor areas. Alternatively, vertical systems can be installed where there are height restrictions. Consulting with a professional installer can help determine the most suitable air source heat pump for your space constraints.

Potential for Freezing.

During colder months, there is a risk of the water within an air source heat pumps external components freezing. This can lead to system inefficiency, reduced performance, and even damage to the equipment.

Solution: Most modern heat pumps have built-in defrosting capabilities to prevent freezing. However, it is essential to regularly check and maintain the system to ensure optimal performance. Keep the outdoor unit clear of ice and snow accumulation and consider installing protective measures such as snow guards or heat trace systems to minimise the risk of freezing.

Installation and Maintenance Costs.

Air source heat pumps generally require professional installation, which can be costly compared to traditional heating systems. Moreover, routine maintenance is crucial to ensure the system operates efficiently, adding to the overall cost but helping to minimise common heat pump problems.

While the initial investment may be higher, air source heat pumps offer long-term energy savings that can offset the upfront expenses. Additionally, explore government schemes, grants, or financing options available to support the installation of renewable heating systems. Schemes such as the Boiler Upgrade Scheme can allow you to receive a £5000 grant off the installation costs.

Regular maintenance and servicing are necessary to maximise the lifespan and efficiency of the heat pump, reducing the risk of unexpected breakdowns and costly repairs. However, heat pumps are a very reliable system and rarely breakdown. Maintenance once or twice a year will be sufficient!


Another factor to consider when siting your pump is aesthetics. Not everybody appreciates the sight of an air source heat pump, so while modern, high quality units are considerably better-looking than older units, you might want to consider the location of the unit with regard to the kerb appeal and attractiveness of your property. Whilst having an energy-efficient heating system for your home is a plus point for potential buyers, it will help if it doesn’t look too intrusive.

Depending on where you live, and where on your property you plan to install the heat pump, you may need to seek planning permission.

Benefits of an Air Source Heat Pump.

While of course it is important to be aware of the common heat pump problems you can encounter, it is vital to understand their benefits too. We think air source heat pumps are a great addition to homes where their function has been properly thought out. Benefits of ASHPs include:

Low carbon emissions:

By using just a small amount of electricity, which could come from a sustainable source such as solar PV or a ‘green’ electricity tariff, an air source heat pump will considerably reduce your home’s impact on the environment.

Energy efficient:

If designed properly, air source heat pumps can deliver between 300% and 400% efficiency, meaning you will make the most of the energy you pay for. As with any heat source, the efficiency of the system will only be as good as your home’s energy performance, so before installing a new heat pump to an existing property, you may need to invest in insulating your home properly first.

Ease of use:

Once installed and commissioned, you can leave the heat pump to do its thing. The onboard control computer uses a system called “weather compensation” to optimise its output in accordance to prevailing conditions, ensuring your home stays at a constant, comfortable temperature.

Heat distribution option:

The heat produced by an air source heat pump can be distributed throughout your home using low temperature radiators and/or underfloor heating systems.

Compact size:

Most air Source Heat Pumps are only approximately 1m x 0.4m x 1.2m  (WxDxH) for an average family home and take up much less ground space than a ground source heat pump, meaning they don’t have to make a huge visual impact and can be used for homes where outside space is at a minimum.

Cheaper to install:

With an average installation cost staring at approximately £10,000, air source heat pumps are cheaper and easier to install than ground source heat pumps. There are also grants to help you install these systems for even cheaper!

Cheaper to run:

Because of the very high operating efficiencies, heat pumps can offer considerable running costs. A well-designed, properly installed and correctly maintained heat pump could save you more than 50% on your heating costs compared to traditional heating methods.

Long life expectancy:

With correct installation from qualified tradesmen and a schedule of annual servicing and maintenance, your ASHP has a lifespan of approximately 15years – much longer than most traditional boilers.


Air source heat pumps are an excellent source of heating and hot water for your home, with the added benefit of being a renewable energy system. As we hope you can see, the benefits of using an air source heat pump can hugely outweigh the problems, so long as your unit is the most suitable for the job in hand and is installed, maintained, and operated properly and effectively.

If you’re interested in having an air source heat pump installed, contact our friendly and experienced team with any queries, or request a call back to receive your FREE site survey! We will provide you with all the information specifically for your property with heat calculations and much more!

We hope you found this article informative, why not check out our other blogs whilst you’re here!

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