Ductless systems—whether just for air conditioning or with a heat pump for home heating as well—are impressive feats of engineering. Benefits include very high efficiency, zone control both for customizable comfort and for reducing energy use, and their ability to be used in homes without ducts that would otherwise not have access to whole-home air conditioning.
But because of their unique configurations, they do experience some unique problems. While major repair needs are rare, they do happen, and if you know the signs and can catch them early, you can minimize their impact. Here are four of the things about ductless systems which differ from central AC systems, and where problems can occur.
1: Condensate Drainage
Any time refrigerant runs through coils, condensation will collect on the outside of those coils because of the difference in temperature between the refrigerant and the air—just like the difference in temperature between your icy beverage and the air causes moisture to develop on the outside of your glass. With multiple air handlers throughout your home, ductless systems have refrigerant coils in multiple locations.
Any AC system can have condensate leaks or clogs in its drainage systems, but with more places for condensate to collect, there are more chances for something to go wrong. Get AC repair in Spokane, WA right away if you notice dripping from a ductless air handler, water stains on the wall below an air handler, or a mildew smell that indicates mold is growing in moisture in your system.
2: Refrigerant Coils
As mentioned above, while the evaporator or indoor refrigerant coils of a traditional central air conditioner are concentrated in a single location, in ductless systems, the refrigerant travels to each air handler separately. With refrigerant flowing to more places, you need to be alert to any possibility that a coil has been damaged and could be leaking.
Refrigerant leaks can cause hissing or bubbling sounds, a sweet chemical smell, decreased cooling power, and increased energy usage (and thus increased electric bills). They must be addressed promptly to avoid straining the compressor.
3: Blower Fans
Again, each air handler has its own blower fan, which means there are more fans—and more motors powering those fans—than you would have in a central air conditioner. And if your ductless system is a heat pump, those fans are used all year round rather than just in the summer. Clattering sounds, lack of airflow, or the system short cycling can all be signs of a problem with the blower fan or motor.
As you can certainly tell by now, ductless systems are complex. Any miscalculations or misalignments during installation can lead to major problems down the line. Always make sure that a new ductless system is installed by qualified, experienced technicians, and if you have concerns about your system or questions about how well it was installed, get professional help right away.
ACI Northwest is here to help. Contact us today to discuss your ductless AC system or heat pump.