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Why Your Heat Pump’s Outdoor Unit Needs Cleaning After a Dust Storm

2015 Nov 02

So, you know all those crazy dust storms and haboobs we’ve had lately? 

All that dust they’re kicking up is ruining the efficiency of your heat pump (the AC that both cools and heats your home), increasing your monthly energy bills as a result. 

We’ll explain why and what you can do about it.

How dust lowers your heat pump’s efficiency

So, as the dust storms pass by, all that dust blankets the outdoor unit (the one with the fan), keeping it from working properly.

To understand why, you need to know how your system works. 

Think of your heat pump like a heat sponge: 

  • In COOL mode the heat pump’s indoor unit absorbs heat from your home’s air (making it cool) and dispersing that heat outside via the outdoor unit. 
  • In HEAT mode the reverse happens; the outdoor unit absorbs heat from the outdoor air and brings it to the indoor unit, heating your home’s air.

In both cases, the outdoor unit needs to be clean and clear of obstructions (grass clippings, cobwebs, sticks, fences). Otherwise it struggles dispersing heat in COOL mode or absorbing heat in HEAT mode. 

What that means is, when the outdoor unit is dirty, the heat pump has to run longer and harder to get your home to your thermostat setting.

In this case, longer running times = higher energy bills. 

So, there you go. A quick explanation on why dust is bad news for your outdoor unit.

How to get the outdoor unit properly cleaned

The best way to get the outdoor unit cleaned is by calling a professional to do a system tune-up.

Why shouldn’t you do it yourself?

Well, trying to clean it yourself could cause some issues with the unit. For instance, spraying the outdoor unit with a water pressure that’s too strong could accidentally bend the delicate fins that direct air over the outdoor unit’s condenser coil (the part that’s absorbing or dumping heat outside.) 

When those fins are bent, you’ll have the same problem as a dust-filled unit.

Talk about counter productive.

So, that’s why we suggest having a professional clean the outside unit for you.

Was your home hit by a haboob this summer? Contact George Brazil to schedule your heat pump tune-up.