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Why You Should Clean Heat Pump Condenser Coils

by Daniel Estevao on April 14, 2017


why you should clean heat pump condenser coils

If you’re going to pick one home improvement project this spring, it should be cleaning your heat pump condenser coils. The best way to maintain your HVAC unit is to ensure that it isn’t dirty. A good coil cleaning will increase energy efficiency, indoor comfort, and utility bill savings.

Regular maintenance of your heating and cooling system is the key to longevity. Maintenance and annual cleanings maximize both the lifespan of your unit and the comfort of your space.

Although cleaning the outdoor unit coils can be a DIY job if you have the proper equipment, if you are not confident in completing the task correctly, reach out to Pacific Heating & Cooling.

We offer precision tune-ups and professional cleanings in addition to HVAC Maintenance Plans to keep your HVAC system energy-efficient all year long.

Regardless of whether you hire a professional or clean your condenser coils yourself, it’s part of HVAC Preventative Maintenance 101.

What are condenser coils?

Condenser coils are found in your outdoor air conditioning unit (also known as your heat pump). When air passes over the condenser coils, the hot refrigerant gas is transformed back into a liquid. This is done with a fan and proper airflow around the heat pump. Once the heat from the refrigerant dissipates, the refrigerant then recirculates in your home to gather more heat from indoors.

Cooling the refrigerant is a necessary part of the cooling system, however, it is also how the condenser coils get dirty. Along with air, dirt, grass clipping, and other debris gets sucked into the outdoor unit and builds up in the coils over time. During the spring and summer, there is a lot more grass clippings, “cotton,” and other debris that can clog your condenser coils.

Too dirty and it won’t be able to complete the refrigerant conversion from gas to liquid and can therefore no longer produce cool air. Your system will still be running, but not working effectively, and this will lead to an eventual breakdown.

Dirty and clogged coils can also occur indoors (evaporator coil), which is one more reason why you should schedule bi-annual HVAC maintenance and change your air filter regularly. A dirty evaporator coil is the most common cause of frozen A/C units.

Learn more about how heat pumps work.

Dirty Coil Concerns

There are three factors that are most negatively affected when condenser coils become too dirty: performance, system longevity, and indoor air quality.

Performance — Maximum heat transfer and conscious energy consumption are dependent on clean coils. Studies prove that you can save about 10-25% on the average operating costs of your AC unit if it is properly cleaned and maintained (ASHRAE [PDF]).

System Longevity — Keeping your unit clean is the most important thing you can do to extend the lifespan or your HVAC system. This includes frequent filter changes in addition to bi-annual professional cleanings.

Indoor Air Quality — As previously mentioned, dirt, pollen, mold spores, and other contaminants will get sucked into the unit and build up over time. This can have an extremely adverse effect on the air you breathe indoors. Air pollution can be greatly affected by your HVAC system when airborne contaminants are filtered through. Bacteria and mold will breed if not annually cleaned.

If you are concerned about the quality of your indoor air, read our IAQ blog and contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

Dirty Coil Facts

Dirty condenser coils are a costly reality. To ensure energy efficiency, longevity, and healthy indoor air quality, annual cleanings are a necessary part of spring upkeep.

Dirty condenser coils can lead to:

  • Degraded cooling capacity by up to 40%
  • Decreased energy efficiency by about 60%
  • Increased discharge pressure up to 60%, cutting refrigeration effect by 30%
  • Reduced compressor power up to 70%
  • Increased supply air temperature by close to 5 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Increased compressor energy consumption by 30%

Frequent condenser coil cleanings save around 10-25% off the average operating costs of your HVAC unit. When you schedule your next HVAC tune-up, make sure the technician is also cleaning your indoor and outdoor coils. There are many things that can go wrong if you try to clean the HVAC coils yourself, so make sure you speak with a professional first!

Source: Southern California Edison (SCE), the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), and the US Department of Energy (DOE)

Protect your air conditioning system and the bottom line with professional coil cleaning this spring.

If you have any questions, check out our HVAC FAQ page first. If you still have questions, don’t hesitate to contact the professionals at Pacific Heating & Cooling.


If you have any questions about your HVAC system, feel free to contact us at (253) 292-3995. We’ll send an expert technician to diagnose your current heating system and recommend the best options for repair or replacement.

Since 1984, we’ve been proudly serving our communities in Federal Way, Graham, Spanaway, University Place, Steilacoom, Sumner, Lakewood, Puyallup, Tacoma and Gig Harbor.

Call Pacific Air Systems Heating & Cooling at (253) 292-3995 for 24/7 service.

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