How to Clean a Heat Pump: From Coils to Outer Conditioner and Deodorizing

Last updatedLast updated: September 28, 2021
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A well-maintained heat pump has a lifespan of between 15 and 20 years. Otherwise, your electricity consumption may increase because you will have to operate your heat pump on forced operation to heat or cool you.

Simple and periodic maintenance allows maintaining high performances of the air conditioning systems and specifically of the heat pumps.

In order not to reduce the performance of your indoor air and climate regulating units such as heat pumps, air conditioning machines, or air purifiers in general, it is necessary to carry out maintenance to ensure their optimal functioning. But many don’t know how to clean a heat pump and when this should be done.

Well, cleaning and general maintenance are required periodically and especially at the beginning of periods of long use, such as autumn and/or winter.

The maintenance of a heat pump that can be carried out without the aid of technical assistance consists of cleaning some parts, including the air filter, and applying an anti-bactericidal treatment on the internal heat exchanger, commonly called split.

How often should you clean your heat pump?

How to Clean a Heat Pump: From Coils to Outer Conditioner and Deodorizing

Depending on the frequency of use of the heating system, you should clean the heat pump every 8 to 12 weeks. You can clean the filters once or twice a year. As earlier mentioned, you should also clean it before and in the middle of a period of long use such as the winter to ensure optimal functionality.

What you will need

  • A piece of dry cloth
  • vacuum cleaner
  • Warm water
  • Soap (mild detergent)
  • HVAC cleaners (in spray forms)
  • Feather duster
  • HVAC air freshener

The cleaning process

How to Clean a Heat Pump: From Coils to Outer Conditioner and Deodorizing

To increase the life of your equipment and boost its performance, it is essential to maintain your heat pump at least once a year. You can perform some tasks, such as cleaning the outdoor unit and dusting the indoor units, yourself.

On the other hand, only a professional is qualified to check the tightness, the refrigerant and certify the correct operation of your installation.

For DIY maintenance, cleaning must be carried out on the external unit, the evaporator coil, and the filter. And finally, you have to deodorize the system.

How to clean heat pump coils

Generally, the split has a movable grille, for air intake, which forms part of its casing. This can be cleaned simply with a dry cloth or with the brush of a vacuum cleaner.

The opening of the suction grille, allows you to access the air filter and remove it, which can also be cleaned with a vacuum cleaner or washed with warm soapy water and then left to dry before being placed in the appropriate compartment.

The exchanger of the indoor unit, which allows transmitting the thermal energy of the refrigerant to the air of the served environment should be cleaned at least once a year.

Cleaning must be carried out very carefully as the fins of the exchanger are particularly sharp. Cleaning can be carried out with the aid of sanitizing products readily available on the market in the spray format.

According to our HVAC experts, the Lundmark Coil Cleen is highly recommended. It is an AC and heat pump fin and coil cleaner in a 32-ounce spray container.

The cleaner can be sprayed on the fins of the exchangers to neutralize the unhealthy bacterial strains and avoid the formation of others.

When sprayed, the foam must be left to act for about ten minutes. The dirty parts that will not vaporize can be cleaned with a dry cloth.

The operations described can be carried out similarly also for the external units of the heat pumps, even if their location generally requires the intervention of technical personnel.

The operations described above must be carried out in compliance with the specific indications described in the machine manuals and the indications of the cleaning products purchased on the market;

In any case, the operations must be carried out after disconnecting the power supply of the machines.

Cleaning the outside conditioner

This point only concerns owners of an aerothermal heat pump (air-air or air-water). This is not for those who have a modern tower heater or infrared heater or a geothermal heat pump. For the latter, the sensors buried in the ground do not require any particular maintenance.

The only possible problem there may be is the degradation of the sensors due to too sandy soil. This degradation occurs insidiously. The only way to prevent it is to regularly check the good performance of your installation. If you notice a drop in performance, contact a professional immediately who will check the system.

So, to clean the outer block, it’s very simple:

  • Start by switching off the heat pump
  • Ensure that no obstacle (tree leaves for example) obstruct the air circulation
  • Remove cobwebs and dust from the coils with a feather duster
  • Clean the air conditioner shell with a mild detergent
  • Check that the block support (if it is attached to the wall) is not cracked or damaged.

Deodorizing the system

If your heat pump is musty or generating some odor, you can consider deodorizing it.

After turning the unit off, look for areas that are most and check out for standing water. Then clean it up with a solution made for killing mold that is recommended for HVAC units.

Clean thoroughly the registers and ductings with the product and replace any porous material that has turned wet such as insulation or filters. Also, remember to clean the condensate pans as well as the pump. When you’re done, you can apply an HVAC air freshener.

One of the safest and most effective for deodorizing a heat pump is the SimpleAir SC-3200. This 32-ounce spray air freshener is designed for deodorizing HVACs and automotive, getting rid of the odor.

Final thoughts

You can clean the filters of the indoor units yourself once or twice a year. You will find out that the filters that clog the fastest are those in the kitchen and living rooms.

Regular maintenance is essential in any case to breathe healthy air and boost the performance of your heat pump, even if it does not replace annual maintenance carried out by a specialist.

Remember how to clean the heat pump? First, turn off your heat pump, open the block, remove the filter, and dust it with your vacuum cleaner (at minimum power). Clean the filter with soapy water,

Wait until the filter is completely dry before repositioning it in the heat pump. Take the opportunity to wipe the unit with a rag: the air that is diffused can cause dust to fly away.

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