Heating & Heat Pumps


Heat Pumps

Heat pumps are our most popular offering when it comes to a new home comfort system.  These systems use the difference between outdoor air temperatures and indoor air temperatures to cool and heat your home. By choosing an Energy Star rated system and taking steps to optimize the performance of your heating and cooling equipment, you are helping to prevent global warming, promoting cleaner air, and enhancing the comfort of your home.

Energy Star Certified heat pumps can be more expensive to purchase up front, but your monthly utility costs should be lower, possibly making up the initial cost difference over time. When buying new heat pump equipment, proper sizing and installation are as important as the quality of the equipment.  Even with top-of-the-line, high-efficiency equipment, if it is poorly installed or improperly sized, it will not operate efficiently.  It’s also important to consider your house in its entirety.  If you’re uncomfortable in your home, it’s not necessarily because you need a new heating and cooling system.  You may need to improve your insulation, seal holes in your building envelope, or seal or repair your ductwork.

Consider regular preventative maintenance to maintain your heating and cooling system performance.

Proper outdoor maintenance of a heat pump is also important:

  1. It’s important to replace the filters and clean and lubricate the components of a heat pump on a regular basis.
  2. But heat pumps, like central air conditioners, have an outdoor unit that contains a compressor, a coil, a fan, and other components. To function properly, this unit should be kept free of debris such as leaves and dirt. The unit should be level on its concrete support pad.
  3. Clean pine needles, leaves, and dirt out of updraft fans by removing the grille, which is held to the frame by a series of retaining screws. Make sure the power to the unit is off before tackling this type of cleaning. A vacuum cleaner hose can sometimes be inserted between the fan blades to remove debris from the sides and bottom of the unit.
  4. At the beginning of each heating season, set a carpenters’ level across the top of the metal cabinet and check the level from side to side and from front to back. If the unit is no longer level on the pad, lift the pad back to level by prying it up with a pry bar or a piece of 2-by-4. Build up the ground under it with stone or crushed rock. Also check the piping insulation for deterioration. If this insulation is faulty, replace it with new insulation, available at heating supply stores. Installation instructions are usually provided by the manufacturer.

Heat Pump Power Interruptions

If a heat pump has been off for more than an hour because of a blown fuse, a tripped circuit breaker, or a utility power failure, the unit should not be operated for about six to eight hours, especially if the temperature is 50 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.

The lubricant in the heat pump’s oil reservoir may be too cool to circulate properly and may cause damage to the valves of the unit. Instead, set the heat pump on emergency heat. This turns the heat pump off and keeps it from running.

Leave the pump in this mode for about six to eight hours, and then switch the heat pump to its normal heating setting. If little or no heat is generated at this point, call James River Air’s professional heating and air service technicians for repairs.


Furnaces are the most common residential heating system in the United States. James River Air Conditioning installs and services all types of furnaces, including oil, natural gas, LP gas, and electric.

A furnace is a forced-air system. Warm air is blown through a duct system to each room. Air drawn into the furnace passes through a filter, where dust and other small particles are trapped. A blower unit blows the filtered air through the furnace, and the air absorbs heat.

The majority of furnaces we install today are gas furnaces. On a gas furnace, the heat is supplied by the burning of natural or LP gas. A mixture of gas and air flows into the burner and is ignited by the pilot. Combustion occurs, and warm air from the burner flame rises to fill a chamber known as a heat exchanger. The heat exchanger becomes hot, and air passing around the heat exchanger absorbs that warmth, continues into the air ducts and the heat is distributed through the home. The by-products of combustion pass upward through a venting system and escape through a vent in the roof or sidewall.

Over the years, manufacturers have made great improvements in the efficiency of these systems.  If you have an older, inefficient furnace, our expert staff can make recommendations for a new, high-efficiency system.