Ductless systems are incredibly effective and efficient HVAC systems, and a leading choice for many homeowners throughout Chicagoland, particularly those renting out rooms or portions of their homes. It saves energy, and subsequently money!
But, ductless systems can run into trouble and require unique repairs—at least, if they are not professionally installed. These heating and cooling systems are meant to be convenient and easy to use, never suffering from ductwork-related problems because they don’t have any! But with improper installation, or inconsistent maintenance, you could potentially run into one of the following problems.
A Failed Indoor Air Handler
This is a problem, but also an example of why ductless mini split systems are so beneficial. A ductless system operates on heat pump technology, but instead of one single inside unit, it’s split into up to four indoor air handlers, each mounted high up on the wall in which they’re meant to cool or heat.
One of these units can fail if it has a broken motor or some other problem, leading to a room that isn’t being conditioned. However, the good news here is that the failure of a single indoor air handler won’t affect the other units, so the rest of your home will still remain cooled (or heated) while you arrange for professional repairs.
One last thing to note in this example is, if an air handler won’t turn on by remote, make sure the remote’s batteries are fresh. We know this seems apparent, but it’s easy to panic on a hot day when your AC won’t work and make a quick assumption that the system has failed!
A Leak Behind an Air Handler
Each air handler is connected to the ductless system’s outdoor unit via a conduit containing refrigerant, a power line, and a condensate line. These lines pass through a hole in the wall behind the air handler. If a leak starts in the condensate line, water will start to build up between the unit and the wall.
Not only does this lead to wall damage and an opportunity for mold and mildew to start growing, but it weakens the wall—to which the air handler can tear away and fall off. If you see any liquid stains or see water dripping from an air handler, please call for professional assistance right away.
This problem isn’t unique to ductless systems—any refrigerant-based system can experience a leak. And if the leak isn’t repaired and the refrigerant refilled (what we call recharged in the HVAC industry), then it will eventually cause the compressor in your outside unit to break down. The compressor is essentially the heart of your entire HVAC system, therefore you really don’t want this to happen!
Ductless systems actually do have a higher chance of refrigerant leaks than standard central air conditioners, because they have more refrigerant lines with greater outdoor exposures. Watch for any sign of refrigerant loss. This can include ice appearing along the coil of an air handler (this is never normal and you shouldn’t try to remove or thaw the ice on your own as it can create further damage) or a loss of cooling power inside your home.