How to Clean a Heat Pump

A heat pump air conditioner is an excellent, energy-efficient way to keep your home comfortable all year. However, failing to perform routine maintenance can have a significant impact on its efficiency and lifespan. Dust and debris accumulation on coils and filters over time can hinder airflow, making your pump work harder and leading to increased energy consumption. Think of it as giving your pump a breath of fresh air – clearing out the impediments. This not only ensures optimal performance and energy efficiency, saving you money on bills, but it also acts as a preventive measure, warding off potential costly repairs or premature replacements. In essence, routine cleaning is a simple yet impactful investment in the long-term reliability and efficiency of your heat pump, ensuring it continues to keep your home comfortable without missing a beat. This guide provides essential maintenance tips for your heat pump, ensuring optimal performance, lower energy consumption, and a longer lifespan.


Dust Off the Pump Filters: 

Maintaining your heat pump’s filters is crucial for optimal performance. A detailed guide is provided for how to clean heat pump filters: 

  1. Begin by turning off your heat pump for safety precautions.
  2. Remove the front panel to access the air filter, a vital component designed to trap dust, dirt, and debris and safeguard the indoor unit from potential damage.
  3. Utilize a small brush or vacuum to gently clean the air filter. Alternatively, you can rinse it with lukewarm water. Take care not to use water exceeding 40˚C to prevent filter shrinkage.
  4. Allow the filter to dry thoroughly before placing it back into its position and reattaching the front panel.

Understanding the significance of this task is crucial, as clogged filters can hinder the cooling capacity of your heat pump, leading to increased energy consumption. Regular maintenance is advised, especially before the onset of the cooling or heating season, with additional inspections and cleaning recommended every two weeks during these periods. For air purifying filters, a monthly cleaning routine is recommended, with an annual replacement for consistent efficiency. Always refer to your heat pump’s user manual for specific recommendations. It’s worth noting that not all air purifying filters are washable. In such cases, use a vacuum cleaner to gently remove any dirt. 

Clean the Coils: 

Evaporator and condenser coils are essential heat exchangers in heat pumps, transferring heat from indoor to outdoor units. Evaporator coils extract heat from indoor air, while condenser coils release heat outside. Over time, debris accumulates, reducing efficiency and increasing energy costs. Therefore, it’s crucial to maintain proper coil maintenance. Here are the general steps involved in cleaning a unit’s coils:

  1. For safety’s sake, start by shutting off the power to your heat pump.
  2. Find the evaporator coils, which are usually located inside the air handler or interior unit.
  3. To reveal the coils, carefully remove the cover or access panel.
  4. Use a vacuum attachment with a soft brush to remove dust and debris from the coils in a gentle manner.
  5. After using a moderate detergent and water solution or a no-rinse coil cleaning, let the coils sit for a few minutes.
  6. If necessary, gently scrub away any remaining dirt with a gentle brush.
  7. After giving the area a quick wipe down with a clean cloth, replace the cover or access panel.

Ensuring the cleanliness of evaporator coils is imperative for maintaining optimal heat pump performance. Incorporating these steps into your cleaning routine helps prevent efficiency reduction and unnecessary strain on the unit, ultimately contributing to energy savings over time.

Clean the Indoor Unit Grilles: 

Dust tends to accumulate on the indoor unit grilles over time, which can impact the airflow and overall efficiency of your heat pump. Follow these steps for effective cleaning:

  • Gently Vacuuming: Start by switching off your heat pump to ensure safety during the cleaning process. Use a vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attachment to carefully vacuum along the grooves of the indoor unit grilles. This method helps to remove accumulated dust and prevent it from impeding the airflow.
  • Damp Cloth Wiping: If you prefer an alternative approach, take a damp cloth, and gently wipe the grilles. Ensure that the cloth is not excessively wet to prevent water from entering the internal components of the heat pump. Wiping the grilles with a damp cloth not only removes dust but also ensures they are clean and free of obstructions, allowing for efficient heat pump performance.

Regular attention to the indoor unit grilles ensures that your heat pump can operate seamlessly, optimizing airflow and maintaining its overall efficiency. 

Wash the Outdoor Unit: 

Maintaining the cleanliness of your heat pump’s outdoor unit is vital for its optimal functionality. Follow this comprehensive guide for effective cleaning:

  • Clear Away Debris: Start by clearing away any leaves, weeds, and debris that may have accumulated around the outdoor unit. This step is crucial to ensure unobstructed airflow and prevent potential damage.
  • Isolate from Electrical Supply: Prioritize safety by isolating the outdoor unit from the electrical supply. This precautionary measure prevents accidents and ensures a secure cleaning process.
  • Use Low-Pressure Water: Armed with a garden hose, use low-pressure water to wash down the outdoor unit. This gentle approach helps remove dirt and grime without risking damage to the unit’s delicate components.

Regular maintenance of the outdoor unit not only improves the heat pump’s efficiency but also extends its lifespan. Clear surroundings and gentle cleaning methods protect against debris accumulation, ensuring smooth operation and reliable comfort throughout the year.

Professional Servicing: 

While regular cleaning is beneficial, enlisting the expertise of a professional technician for servicing every 12 months is crucial for long-term maintenance. Here’s why:

  1. Beyond Routine Cleaning: While routine cleaning is fundamental, accredited technicians bring specialized expertise to the table. Beyond the basics, they delve into specific needs, ensuring a thorough examination and addressing any issues that may not be apparent during regular cleaning.
  2. Identify and Resolve Potential Issues: Professionals are adept at identifying and resolving potential issues before they escalate into more significant problems. This proactive approach contributes significantly to the longevity and efficiency of your heat pump, saving you from costly repairs or premature replacements down the line.

By incorporating professional servicing into your annual maintenance routine, you’re taking a proactive stance in ensuring the sustained performance of your heat pump. These experts possess the know-how to scrutinize intricate components, making certain that your heat pump operates at its peak efficiency. This comprehensive approach to maintenance goes beyond routine cleaning, providing you with peace of mind and prolonging the life of your heat pump.


Failure to clean your heat pump leads to clogged air filters, which restrict airflow and reduce efficiency. Cleaning regularly not only ensures peak performance but also reduces energy consumption. Clean filters also keep pollen, dust, and detritus out of your home, resulting in a healthier indoor environment.


It’s a good idea to keep an eye on your heat pump’s filter regularly (every 3 to 4 months), and it’s generally recommended to give the coils and other components a more thorough cleaning at least once a year. Be sure to check the regulations applicable in your country. If your home is on the ground floor, or if you have smokers, pets, or individuals with allergies, you might find it necessary to clean the filter more frequently or consider a complete filter change.


To ensure peak performance during extreme weather conditions, experts recommend a professional tune-up at least once a year, ideally in the spring and fall. Professional servicing protects delicate components such as coils, allowing potential problems to be identified early and avoiding costly repairs.

It is simple to maintain your heat pump, but it is critical for its longevity and efficiency. By following these steps and scheduling professional maintenance, you’ll be able to keep your home comfortable all year while avoiding untimely failures and costly repairs.


Maintaining your heat pump is a straightforward yet crucial task for ensuring its longevity and efficiency. Following these steps, coupled with regular professional maintenance, allows you to keep your home comfortable throughout the year while avoiding unexpected failures and costly repairs. If you find yourself needing assistance or have questions about heat pump maintenance in Kent, Auburn, or the surrounding areas, Green City Heating and Air Conditioning is ready to help. We always prioritize your comfort and safety. Get a quote or schedule a service today. Or contact us at (206) 249-9772.

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