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Heat Pump Maintenance Tips for Homeowners

As temperatures drop throughout most of the country, a working heat pump is going to be more important than ever for homeowners. According to the Department of Energy, you could save yourself anywhere from 10% to 25% energy consumption this season with proper heat pump cleaning and maintenance! In this article, we will discuss tips for proper heat pump maintenance and cleaning, so that it remains in working condition, keeping your family comfortable through the seasons.

Table of Contents

How Does a Heat Pump Work?

Your home’s heat pump is an investment you need to maintain. Before we get started, knowing the basics about your heat pump will give you a better understanding of how to maintain it.

heat pump illustration

There are two components of your heat pump: the part inside your home and the part outside:

  • The indoor air handler keeps the air moving throughout the home
  • The outdoor heat pump draws the air in

The two work together to keep your family comfortable no matter the weather outside.

Secondly, the heat pump does not create cool or warm temperatures. Rather, it draws cool and warm air from the outside to get your home to the temperature you want.

Yes, even when it’s snowing outside, there is still heat to be drawn in. It also uses a refrigerant to help the heat pump maintain the temperatures requested, by way of a thermostat. All this means is that heat pumps do not burn fuels — a huge plus as we move toward more climate-neutral energy resources.

Heat Pump Maintenance Tips

Luckily, keeping your heat pump in good condition does not require a lot of work or money. Here are the best practices to follow for regular heat pump maintenance.

  • Indoor Units: Change out the filter once a month. You can get filters at your favorite hardware or even grocery stores, and there are different types depending on your family’s needs, such as allergies.
  • Outdoor Units: Keep the area around your heat pump clear – about 2 to 3 feet of clearance is recommended. This will help avoid debris trickling into the heat pump or it possibly getting damaged by equipment falling onto it. Keep reading for how to do a deeper clean.

How to Clean Your Heat Pump

Debris like pollen, grass clippings, leaves and items from your yard can fall into the heat pump and clog it up.

Dirty coils mean inefficient coils, so it is important to take some time to make sure your heat pump is clean each season:

  1. Turn off the power to the heat pump before you start any cleaning—be sure to double check, too! The fans should not be on.
  2. As we mentioned earlier, there should be a clearing around the heat pump. Clean up this area first.
  3. Use a screwdriver to remove the outer casing of the heat pump, the first item you will clean. You can use a vacuum or soft brush to clean out dirt and gunk. 
  4. Carefully lift the top grill of the pump, which is attached to the fan. You can use a garden hose with some soap to gently clean the condenser coil and the fins.
  5. If any fins are accidentally bent during the cleaning process, work to bend them back into shape. This will help the pump run as efficiently as possible.

Cleaning your heat pump is something you can do on your own. However, if you are seeing that your heat pump really requires some extra TLC, contact an HVAC technician to make an appointment for a deep clean.

Warning Signs To Look Out For

When your heat pump is working properly, you will barely notice it! The only sound it should make is a light whooshing sound of air moving out of it.

However, if you notice unusual noises and smells or uneven heating, it is worth calling in a professional. These signs could mean the pump is dirty or in need of repair.

Even if your heat pump is working perfectly fine, it is still recommended to have a technician come out once a year for a “tune up” of sorts. The technician will check and complete the following:

  • Inspect for obstructions
  • Diagnose duct leakage
  • Make sure the pump has good airflow as well as the right refrigerant charge
  • Clean and tighten connections, if necessary
  • Inspect motors and belts, apply lubrication if necessary 
  • Confirm that the electronics and thermostat are working properly

Modernize can help you find a local HVAC professional to inspect your unit this season and perform any heat pump maintenance needed. Our network of professionals are accredited and ready to help with any HVAC system needs you have.

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