Tips for Cleaning Your Furnace and Heat Pump
Your furnace or heat pump can accumulate dirt and grime on its components in the course of its operation. Regular cleaning is essential for upholding the system’s performance. Here are some tips on how to clean your furnace or heat pump.
Take Precautions Before Cleaning
For both a furnace and heat pump, you will first need to shut off the power supply. Shut off the unit, and shut down the switch in the breaker box. For an oil or a gas furnace, you will also need to shut off the fuel supply. Test the unit to confirm that it is off.
Next, ensure that there is clearance around the unit. Clear dry leaves and twigs away from outdoor components, and be sure that there are no boxes or furniture around any indoor components.
If in the course of your cleaning you spot leakages or loose wires from the furnace or heat pump, it is best to stop and call a certified technician. Cleaning a damaged heating system can be dangerous to you and your home.
Cleaning Outdoor Components
To clean a furnace’s outdoor parts, start by removing the outer metal casing using a flathead screwdriver. Clean the outdoor unit with a garden hose to remove all the leaves and grime on the unit’s exterior. Avoid using a pressure washer as it can damage components. Cleaning off dirt and debris on the outdoor unit can boost the furnace’s performance.
Once you’ve cleaned the cover, be sure to clean the fins, spraying water from the inside out. The debris may not allow water to get further into the fins. Watch out for bent fins. You can use a butter knife to straighten bent fins, but be careful not to cause more damage, and contact a professional if the fins are extremely bent.
After cleaning, you can reassemble the unit and use a level to check whether it sits flat on its pad. The soil underneath can shift, making the outdoor unit slant.
Cleaning the Furnace’s Condensate Drain
In Sugar Land, the humidity can be high and oppressive through late winter into spring and summer. Your HVAC system disposes of the excess moisture through the condensate line to the pan. When the condensate pan overflows, it can cause corrosion and microbial growth.
You can clean out the condensate line with a dry-wet vacuum, plumber’s snake, or a specialized pump. If there are pools of water on the bottom of the condensate line, you can use a dry towel to mop them up.
Pour hot water and soap or diluted hydrogen peroxide down the condensate pipe to kill microbial growth. Avoid using bleach as it can damage plastic and kill plants. Flush water down the line to confirm that the line is running clear and that the water isn’t leaking out anywhere.
Cleaning and Replacing the Furnace’s Filter
One of the most crucial maintenance tasks is cleaning or replacing the furnace’s filter. The filter, which is usually behind the return vent, contributes to your home’s indoor air quality.
A cleaner filter also means that your HVAC system will run more efficiently. When the filter is blocked, it prevents airflow to the furnace. Internal components such as the heat exchanger can overheat.
Whether you clean or replace the filter and how often you should perform the task will depend on the type of filter that your furnace has. You ought to clean reusable electrostatic or washable filters every month. The rule of thumb for disposable filters is to replace them every 90 days.
Other factors will determine how often you clean your filter. The more occupants in the household, the more often you need a filter replacement. If residents have allergies or respiratory ailments, you may have to replace the standard-issue filter with a high-efficiency one. You can consult the certified technicians at Custom Comfort Air in Sugar Land for indoor air quality solutions.
Cleaning a Heat Pump
After you are sure that the power supply to the heat pump is off, remove the cover by loosening the screws that secure it. You should see the filter or the filter housing, so you’ll want to remove this, too. Be careful since if the unit is older, some of the plastic parts may have become brittle and could break.
Once you have the cover off and the filter out, cover any exposed wiring with clear plastic wrap. Cover the wall and the area on the ground around the unit with towels so that they don’t get wet or dirty while you are cleaning. Spray the parts and components with soap and water or an antibacterial cleaner. Do not use vinegar or other acidic solutions. Brush the solution off, and rinse the parts with a wet sponge until all of the soap or cleaner is gone.
Inspect the internal parts like the blower wheel to be sure that they are not covered in dust or debris. If they are, you can spray them with canned air or a power washer on the lowest setting. If they are removable, you can take them out and clean them.
Use a hose or power washer to clean the cover and any bigger parts that you have removed. Let everything dry, or hand-dry all components with clean towels or paper towels. Reassemble the unit.
Cleaning a heat pump is a lot of work. It is a delicate process that may be best left to professionals as these devices have a lot of intricate wiring and are easily damaged.
What Does Professional Cleaning Entail?
Some parts of your heating system have intricate components that require a professional’s touch. Such devices can be dangerous for an untrained person to clean or troubleshoot.
During maintenance, certified professionals will clean and inspect mechanical components. They will examine the heat exchanger on your furnace for leaks. Overheating can force the exchanger to crack, releasing toxic fumes into the home. Cleaning the heat exchanger removes debris that encourages overheating and corrosion.
A furnace technician will also check if the electrical connections are working correctly. Loose wires can trigger an electrical fire hazard. The wiring’s condition can indicate an issue with rodents or pests in your home.
One of the crucial tasks for professional technicians is to clean the coils and recharge the refrigerant in an HVAC unit. Dirty condenser and evaporator coils can reduce the cooling capacity by 40% and heating by 60%. Grime and dirt prevent the copper coils from absorbing or dispelling heat.
Some homeowners opt to clean their own coils, but it is advisable to hire a professional. The copper coils are sensitive to corrosion, and any damage can cause the toxic refrigerant to leak. Additionally, a certified technician must recharge the refrigerant if it is depleted; this is not something that a layperson can do on their own.
How Often Should You Schedule Professional Cleaning?
A trained professional will perform cleaning tasks with the appropriate tools during maintenance. Ideally, you should schedule a furnace tune-up at least once a year. You may schedule maintenance more frequently if you have a busy home or occupants with allergies.
Custom Comfort Air is among the few ENERGY STAR-certified heating companies in Sugar Land, TX. Since 1969, we have been working to deliver quality services that exceed our clients’ expectations. Thanks to our team’s commitment, we are a BBB-accredited company with A+ ratings. We are a Lennox Premier Dealer with highly skilled technicians who can provide installation, maintenance, and service for air scrubbers, indoor air quality systems, smart thermostats, and heating and cooling systems. Call our staff for a 100% satisfaction guarantee on our services in Sugar Land.