December 15, 2021
 | 
By Mark Paup

Tips on Proper Outdoor Clearance for Your Heat Pump

Updated January 17, 2024

Proper outdoor clearance for heat pumps infographic

Heat pumps are an energy-efficient and versatile comfort system that provides two-in-one heating and cooling. It’s no wonder they’ve become increasingly popular among Iowa homeowners.

That said, it’s important to make sure that your heat pump is installed with proper clearance around it and maintained with routine cleanings.

To keep your heat pump operating in top-notch condition, below we’ve outlined some tips on outdoor clearance:
  • Two Feet Clearance on All Sides
  • Keep Shrubs and Plants Trimmed
  • Clean Leaves, Rocks, and Snowdrifts
  • Schedule an HVAC Tune-Up

Iowa weather can be unpredictable, so let’s explore how these best practices can help you prepare for whatever the seasons bring.

Want a Des Moines HVAC technician to service your home’s heat pump system?

Contact Golden Rule for a heat pump repair or precision tune-up. We apply the Golden Rule to everything we do, which means you can expect fair prices, honest guidance, and reliable workmanship. Call us today at 515-393-4526!

Schedule Heat Pump Service Online

Two Feet Clearance on All Sides

Your heat pump’s outdoor unit needs 24 inches of clearance (minimum) on all sides to operate safely.

Typically, the contractor who originally installed your heat pump will set you up for success by installing it with proper two feet of clearance. If not, you might need the heat pump re-installed.

Your heat pump relies on the outdoor unit to pull in or exhaust air, whether in heating or cooling mode. If there isn’t enough space for either process, you’ll run into airflow problems that can cause your heat pump to go into overdrive. Not only will your energy bills increase, but this could also shorten your heat pump’s lifespan.

Keep Shrubs and Plants Trimmed

Make sure to clear away any shrubs and plants around the outdoor unit.

Excessive plant growth tends to become a problem in spring and summer when nature comes back to life. Even if you trimmed them way back in the fall, plants and shrubs could grow before you know it. If left untrimmed, the branches and leaves can make their way into your outdoor unit’s grill and begin to obstruct the blower fan.

If you haven’t checked lately, make sure to inspect the surrounding landscape of your heat pump’s outdoor unit.

Clean Leaves, Rocks, and Snowdrifts

Over time, dried leaves, twigs, rocks, and other yard debris can make their way into the grill of your heat pump’s outdoor unit. And in the winter, piles of snow can form around it, blocking your heat pump’s source of airflow in heating mode.

As we mentioned above, airflow is critical to your heat pump’s operation, so if there’s even the slightest obstruction, you’ll face big problems.

To avoid surprise breakdowns, expensive repairs, and the risk of needing a sooner than necessary replacement, it pays to periodically clean and inspect your outdoor unit. All the more so as seasons change, and yard debris gets kicked up around it.

Schedule an HVAC Tune‑Up

A qualified HVAC technician will clean and inspect your entire heat pump system during a professional tune-up, including your outdoor unit.

Moreover, they’ll have the tools and experience needed to evaluate the condition of your heat pump and identify any parts that need replacing.

If you’re not comfortable cleaning or maintaining your heat pump yourself, hiring a professional will provide peace of mind that the job is safely and correctly done. Heat pumps contain complex and potentially dangerous electrical components that should only be handled by licensed and qualified professionals anyway.

At Golden Rule, all of our technicians are NATE-certified, which means they’ve gone through the industry’s most rigorous HVAC training. We also provide one of the most comprehensive heat pumps in all of Des Moines that will leave your heat pump working better than ever. To learn more, visit our heating tune-up page.

Want to Schedule the Most Comprehensive Heat Pump Tune-Up in Des Moines? Contact Golden Rule.

Every year, thousands of Iowa homeowners turn to Golden Rule for a service that puts them first. When you contact us for heat pump maintenance, our licensed and highly trained technicians will assess your heat pump’s performance both inside and out. And unlike other contractors, we’ll never try to sell you a part you don’t need. That’s a promise. Call us today at 515-393-4526 or click the button below.

Schedule Heat Pump Maintenance Online


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