The Pros and Cons of Installing a Heat Pump in Your Attic

Heat pumps are a great way to increase your home comfort, decrease your carbon footprint, and lower your electric bills. And, for homes with attics but not a lot of room elsewhere, an attic heat pump installation can be a great idea.


But, many homeowners don’t realize all the potential drawbacks to a setup like this. That’s why I’m here to give you the full picture.

I’ve been a product manager at Peirce Phelps, a nationwide HVAC contractor, for more than a decade. Working with contractors in the mid-Atlantic region, I’ve seen attic installations in old Central Jersey homes with a lot of rooms and plenty of attic space.

And in small homes outside New Castle, Delaware, where using a crawl space for HVAC equipment in a house with no basement means freeing up closet space.

These setups can work just fine. But, other times, the homeowner gets frustrated by a bunch of unexpected problems.

In this article, I’ll discuss the different types of heat pumps, the advantages and disadvantages of installing one in your attic, and tips on how to care for your system properly.

If you’d like to learn more, use our dealer locator to find a certified HVAC installer in your area. They’ll provide a free consultation to answer all your questions.


Heat Pump Overview

Heat pumps work by transferring heat from one place to another, depending on the season. During winter, they extract heat from the outside and transfer it into your home.

During summer, they do the opposite, removing heat from your home and transferring it outside like an air conditioner.

Parts of a Heat Pump

Heat pump systems have an indoor unit and an outdoor unit. The indoor unit, or air handler, circulates heating or cooled air in your house.

The outdoor unit contains the compressor and the condenser coil to absorb heat from the air and send it inside or get rid of heat from the house.

Types of Heat Pumps

There are several types of heat pumps, and sometimes they overlap. Here’s a quick overview of the terms of common heat pumps for residential homes.


Air-source heat pumps are the most popular type of heat pump for residential use. They use the outdoor air as the heat source in winter and the heat sink in summer.


Ducted heat pumps are connected to a central HVAC system and use ductwork to distribute heated or cooled air throughout the home. These heat pumps can be installed in the attic.

Non-Ducted / Mini Split

Non-ducted or mini-split systems are designed for homes without a central HVAC system. The heat pump is outside and the indoor units are mounted on the wall or ceiling.

Mini-split systems are more expensive than ducted heat pumps, but they are more efficient and provide zoned heating and cooling. They can heat and cool one room, an entire home, or any design in between.

Advantages of Installing a Heat Pump in Your Attic

Here are some of the key benefits of installing a heat pump in your attic.

Less noise

Noise produced from an HVAC system is often a concern for homeowners. However, by installing the HVAC system in your attic, the noise is minimized, and the system will operate much more quietly.

More Space

With the HVAC system in the attic, you can use the space that would otherwise be taken up by a furnace or heat pump. This can be particularly beneficial if you have limited room in the house and need to maximize your living space.

Better Temperature Control

A ducted or non-ducted heat pump system can evenly distribute warm or cool air throughout your home. With an attic install, you can place the unit centrally to reach each conditioned space in the house.

Disadvantages of Installing a Heat Pump in Your Attic

Here are the potential disadvantages to keep in mind when considering whether to put a heat pump in your attic:

Installation Challenges

The installation process for a heat pump in your attic can be quite challenging. All of the ductwork needs to be properly installed in a space that’s hard to move around in.

Depending on the age and construction of your home, there may be other challenges to consider. For example, rotting attic floor joists may need to be replaced before the installation can proceed.

Difficult to Clean and Maintain

The indoor units of a heat pump system in the attic are difficult to access for cleaning and maintenance. In particular, the condensate drain can become clogged over time, leading to water damage and reduced efficiency.

Rodent Infestation

Attics are often home to rodents and other pests. A heat pump system in your attic can attract these animals. They can cause damage to the system and create unpleasant odors in your home.

Reduced Efficiency

Heat pump systems are designed to be efficient, but when they are installed in unconditioned spaces like attics, they can experience reduced efficiency.

The attic space can get very hot in the summer and very cold in the winter. This makes it more difficult for the heat pump to work effectively.

More Expensive Repairs

If your heat pump system is installed in your attic, repairs can be more expensive because of the difficult access to the indoor units.

For example, if the ductwork becomes damaged or the duct seals loosen over time as the ductwork naturally expands and contracts, it can be more challenging and time-consuming to repair.

Caring For Your Attic Heat Pump

If you install a heat pump in your attic, proper care will ensure it operates efficiently and lasts for a long time. Here are some essential maintenance tasks:


Dirt and debris can accumulate on the coils and hinder the heat pump’s ability to absorb and release heat. To clean the outdoor unit, turn off the power supply and use a garden hose to spray it down.

For the attic air handler, remove reusable filters and wash them with soap and water. Or replace disposable ones. Clean around the unit and clean the condensate drain to prevent clogging.

Professional Maintenance

Spring and fall tune-ups are important for all heating and cooling systems, but especially so for attic heat pumps due to all the extra challenges.

Check Electric Bills

Monitor your electric bills to ensure they don’t spike unexpectedly, indicating that your heat pump is not running efficiently. If you notice a jump, it might be time to call in a professional for repairs.

Attic Heat Pump FAQs

If you still have questions, use our dealer locator to find a certified HVAC installer near your home in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, or Maryland.


Why are heat pumps not used more?

Heat pumps are becoming increasingly popular due to their energy efficiency and ability to provide heating and cooling. Some homeowners are hesitant to invest in heat pumps due to higher upfront costs compared to traditional HVAC. However, federal and state-level rebates and incentives bring down the initial cost.

Do you need ductwork for a heat pump?

Ductwork is not always necessary for a heat pump system, but it often helps with optimal performance and energy efficiency. Ductless mini-split systems offer more customization but require more indoor units and cost more to install.

Find out how we can match you with an excellent heat pump installer in State College, PA or anywhere in Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, or Delaware.