Cool Cap? Cover for Fan on Heat Pump? DIY

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Old 09-24-14, 04:31 AM
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Cool Cap? Cover for Fan on Heat Pump? DIY

I am a single mom who just got hit with the cost of replacing my heat pump and my roof all within 6 months. I pay for an HVAC contract which includes an inspection twice a year. They just did my inspection on the three month old system yesterday and now tell me I need a "cool cap" because the unit outside is under trees and as they fall, they will enter the fan and eventually clog up the drain.

I was taken aback because they never mentioned this was an issue when they sold and installed the unit.

It makes sense to me, but I can't afford another $99 and it burns me up to have to pay them since I feel they should have suggested this to begin with.

I would like to try to do this myself, if possible and save the $99.
  • Is this a legitimate recommendation?
  • Do stores like Home Depot sell the items to do this project?
  • Is there another name for a cap device that would stop debris from falling into the fan, because when I Google "cool cap" which is what he called it, I don't find anything.
  • Is this a DIY project that is fairly easy to do? I don't do electricity, except to turn it off when doing projects.
  • Any links to photos or videos on this project would be greatly appreciated, since I don't know what a cool cap would even look like.

Thanks!
 
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Old 09-24-14, 04:45 AM
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Welcome to the forums. Sadly, you would probably spend more than the $99 in trying to DIY a cover for it that would not restrict needed air flow. I am not endorsing a brand, but I chose a Trane XL15 when mine needed replacing, mainly because of similar problems. I notices when it would sleet or snow, ice would form on my blades. Well,when it turned on, the ice was slung through my cooling fins. This was the best solution. Google Trane XL 15 to see what the cap looks like.
 
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Old 09-24-14, 05:09 AM
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I think you might be being taken on more than one count. First, a heat pump really does not need anything routine other than just to make sure it is physically clear. Something you can do with a leaf blower, garden hose or just picking out the leaves. Most units never receive any care until something something needs fixing. The idea of paying for a maintenance contract itself sounds questionable except to the person selling the contract. And the idea of an inspection on a 3 month old unit sounds really absurd.

As for a "cap" to prevent leaves from entering. I have about 30 or so heat pumps on my rental properties and about half receive heavy leaf fall. There is a grate on top to prevent leaves from easily falling in. Then when the unit runs the airflow is up which blows away any leaves that do land on top.
 
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Old 09-24-14, 08:08 AM
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If the fan is at the top, blowing air up, you can cut a simple piece of window screen or hardware cloth to cover it. It can be held in place by some strategically located screws (not on a new in-warranty unit though) or some super-magnets you can get at a Home Center or hobby store. Probably cost less than $15.

Big leaves like oak or maple wouldn't be an issue, but smaller thinner ones (beech or willow?) can fall through when the unit isn't operating.

Had this problem in VA and after 2 seasons of cleaning the rotted leaves out of the bottom of the unit, I used the window screen (since I had some) and magnets. Never had an issue after that.

You'd need to remove the screen and spray it clean with a water hose once in a while, but that takes 2 minutes.
 
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