How to clean your heat pump

Getting the best out of your heat pump only takes a vacuum cleaner and a few minutes of your time.

20jul dont pay for a heat pump service hero

At this time of year, you’ll often see flyers and adverts flogging heat pump servicing. Don’t do it. You can do your own clean and check in less than 10 minutes, and probably save yourself at least $100 in the process.

When to do it

It all comes down how often you run your heat pump. If you use it sparingly in winter, then you can probably get away with once a year. If you use it a lot throughout summer and winter, you should be thinking at least 4 times a year.

Indoor unit clean

20jul dont pay for a heat pump service body

Grab your vacuum and clip on the dusting brush attachment – if you don’t have one, chuck on the upholstery tool and make sure the vacuum power is dialled back a touch. Flip up the heat pump cover and remove the filters (usually they’re pretty clogged up with dust if you haven’t cleaned them for a few months). Vacuum the filters with the brush attachment before passing the vacuum over the vanes and fins inside the heat pump itself. Pop the filters back in place and flip down the cover, then wipe down the outside of the unit.

Outdoor unit check

Check around the outdoor unit to make sure there’re no vegetation growing in the vicinity and that nobody’s left anything leaning against it. If there’s anything growing close to the unit, trim it right back or remove it. Now you can take a close look at the outdoor unit itself, look for any signs of insect nests or evidence that there’s some colony present – think ants and cockroaches. You’ll probably be able to treat the problem yourself, but for big jobs you might be better off calling in an exterminator.

20jul dont pay for a heat pump service body2

Now look for signs of corrosion. If you see something, you should deal with it – or get it dealt with – to extend the life of the heat pump.

Don’t worry if there’s a bit of water on the ground by the outside unit. That’s normal and exactly where you want the water to be. If it’s inside the house, you have a problem.

Final check

Head back inside and turn the heat pump on. Have a listen to make sure everything sounds fine and that there is a good amount of heat coming from the unit – you’ll notice a big jump in performance if your filters were particularly clogged. Pop outside and do the same with the outdoor unit, and from there you’re good to go.

When to call in the technician

You can still call the pros every few years for a servicing if you want that peace of mind that everything is running well, as they’ll run some diagnostic checks at the same time. Other than that, the only time you’ll need a technician is when the heat pump actually develops a fault. It’ll be clear that you have a problem if you notice strange noises, leaking inside or poor performance after cleaning the filters yourself.

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Member comments

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Angus & Karen G.
10 Oct 2020
Cleaning Heat Pumps

Thanks - i cleaned mine today after reading your info. V helpful.

Peter U.
10 Oct 2020
Heat Pump Maintenance

Have had Carrier unit 22 years. Probably saved $2000+ by cleaning filters myself. Still working fine.

Judy H.
13 Jul 2020
heat pump maintenance tips

It's important to know how to save money doing maintenance that we can safely do ourselves. Thanks very much for this kind of valuable information.

Judy Hunter

D J F.
11 Jul 2020
Heat pump maintenance

Agree with most comments re home based cleaning but my advice is find a good professional and at least once a year get the unit cleaned more extensively in areas a home owner cannot access. They usually provide some practical advice as well.


John M.
11 Jul 2020
Heat pump clean

Do you give your refrigerator and freezer mechanicals the same attention? Bet you don't and they have been running for years! Same thing! Same process. And working probably in a much more dusty environment in most cases!

11 Jul 2020
Only use DIY to clean a heat pump until its not performing well!

I have a Daiken heatpump installed in 2008 and have done your recommended cleans every four months myself since new. However over the last three years the pump has progressively put out less heat. On a particularly cold morning this July in Queenstown the indoor thermometer near the pump read 12 so I called the Daikin people for a clean or maybe a new pump - anything to live comfortably again. The service man came immediately and cleaned the inside of the machine underneath the filters and also attacked some stickiness on the oven side (I use an extraction fan to remove cooking air) and did lots out side as well. He used a number of instruments to check the performance. The result is amazing so I am setting it on 18 and achieving 23 on the thermo whereas before on 23 the thermo read 12!
It cost a little more than $100 for seriously cleaning three heat pumps and is well worth it. The serviceman said the 2008 heat pump is in excellent condition and should go for years.

Alan M.
11 Jul 2020
Cleaning floor standing heat pumps

Floor standers can't be cleaned with a quick vacuum. Mine has to have the motor and fans unit removed, allowing the operator to reach up behind the coils while he is lying on his back! This is done every 5 years.

Claudia B.
11 Jul 2020
10 July 2020 Don’t pay for a heat pump service

Thank you for this! I cleaned my heat pump myself it was very straight-forward and took about 10 mins all up! Thanks again.

Garry H.
11 Jul 2020
Heat Pump Cleaning

My particular filters remove every couple of months wash them in shower and replace when dry. These filters can get wet. Outside unit I gently hose out every time I wash the windows. Live 1 Km away from the coast. Was advised this by professional installer (who has installed thousands) when I sold heat pumps for a number years. Also sprayed outside unit fins with "Soft Seal" several times to help prevent corrosion. Unit is now 7 years old and has never missed a beat.

L H.
11 Jul 2020
Heat Pump Cleaning

Hi Garry.
It would be really useful to know what brand and preferably model of Heat Pump you have. Thanks very much for the tips.
Laraine H.

Garry H.
12 Jul 2020
Heat Pump Cleaning

In reply to Laraine H. The model is a Panasonic CSE21NKR. (no longer available) It has mesh type filters.
Recently cleaned a friends Daikin filters but removed the extra clip on filters first. Do them with vacuum cleaner.

Deborah P.
11 Jul 2020
Cleaning Heat Pumps

Awesome report. May I add, "Clean Fresh Air" has a 100% natural product that I use when cleaning my heat pumps. The spray kills out of sight mould and air-borne bacteria - after cleaning the filters, simply spray the product - both on the inside filters and return-air ducts on the outside unit. Gives extra peace of mind.

gary w.
11 Jul 2020
heat pump cleaning

I wanted to comment on your article about cleaning heat pumps.
I think it is too simplistic to simply say grab the vacuum cleaner and give it a quick clean.
A heat pump can harbour a lot of mould, bacteria, and mildew. The ONLY way to get rid of this is to have the units professionally cleaned and sanitised using the proper equipment.
Having your heat pump cleaned once a year will keep it running at peak efficiency, it will be quieter and it will last longer if it is properly maintained.
In these times of Covid-19, it is more important than ever to make sure the air we breath is SAFE!!!!!!

David B.
11 Jul 2020
Heat Pump cleaning

The only way to check for insect infestation in the outdoor unit is to remove the cover and check thoroughly inside. This is not a job for amateurs. My outdoor unit pipe flexy duct also needs replacing this year due to UV damage. Only a small job but still something that should be done by a qualified service person.

B A S.
11 Jul 2020
Service not always needed by dealer

We had our heat pump serviced under guarantee because the air roller was making a noise. Anyhow our friendly technician washed the filters in soapy water while the indoor unit was in pieces and explained how we could do most of the unit cleaning ourselves with a soft brush and light suction on the vacuum. Do however turn the unit off first.