Ductless mini-split AC systems are extremely energy efficient and can be a great option for keeping your Florida home cool. A mini-split system can also be perfect for supplementing your existing central air conditioning in cases where you have a room or part of the home that always stays much warmer than the rest of the house. As with all types of HVAC systems, regular maintenance is important for ensuring a mini-split continues cooling effectively and working efficiently. With that in mind, here are some of the most important tasks involved in maintaining a mini-split AC system.

Clean the Air Filters Regularly

In a mini-split system, each of the blowers, or “heads”, inside your home has a filter that traps dust, dirt and hair so that they can’t get drawn all the way inside the unit. This is important as dust and debris can clog the fan inside the air handler and prevent it from circulating air properly. The filter also helps to keep the evaporator coil in each air handler from getting coated in dust, which helps to keep the system cooling effectively. A lot of dust on the evaporator coil can insulate it and prevent the refrigerant from removing heat from the air flowing through the unit. When this happens, the system will stop cooling efficiently and undergo much more strain.

Virtually all mini-split air blowers have a reusable plastic mesh filter that can easily be cleaned to ensure it keeps working properly. To keep a mini-split AC system functioning effectively, it is generally recommended that you clean the air filters monthly or even once every two weeks. Most manufacturers also recommend that you completely replace each of the filters yearly.

Before opening the air handler and removing the filter, it is important to first turn the system off. If you left the system running after removing the air filter, the fan could suck lots of dust inside the air handler. Shutting the system off before opening the air handlers is also important for safety reasons.

The filter is located within a grooved track, and you will usually need to push the bottom of the filter up and out to remove it. You need to remove the filter gently, so that you don’t damage it and also so that you don’t knock dust into the inside of the blower.

Most filters are small enough that you can just clean them in the kitchen sink using the spray nozzle on your faucet. If any of the filters are covered in lots of dust and debris, it usually helps to first gently clean all of it off using either a damp cloth or a vacuum with a brush attachment. If you do use a vacuum, you need to be extra careful, as the suction can sometimes be strong enough that it damages the mesh on the filter.

In some cases, rinsing the filters off with just water isn’t enough to fully clean them, as they can sometimes get sticky from grease and other substances, and this is especially true for any air handlers located in or near your kitchen. You may need to use warm, soapy water to get the filters fully clean. Once all of the filters are clean, make sure that you let them fully dry before putting them back in the blowers. Otherwise, mold and mildew could start growing on the filter and inside the blower.

Remove Dirt and Dust From Inside the Blowers

When you’re cleaning the filters, it’s also a good idea to use your vacuum or a damp cloth to clean as much dust and debris from inside each blower as you can. You should also take the damp cloth and gently wipe dust off of the evaporator coil so it stays clean enough for the blower to work effectively. You normally shouldn’t need to clean inside the blowers every time you clean the air filters, but you should make sure to do it at least a few times a year.

Cleaning the blowers is typically something that homeowners can do on their own, but you should always contact a professional if you’re uncomfortable or unsure of what to do. If you’re not careful, you could easily damage the evaporator coil to the point where you’ll need to have the entire blower replaced. For this reason, you are often better off having the entire system professionally maintained every six months or so.

Clear Vegetation and Debris From Around the Outside Unit

It is also important that you regularly clean up any leaves and debris from around the base of the outside unit. This helps to prevent items from potentially getting sucked inside and starting to clog the unit to the point where the fan can’t draw sufficient air through it. A mini-split system will always work most effectively when there is at least four feet of clearance in front of and on both sides of the outdoor unit.

Clean the Condenser Coil

The condenser coil in the outdoor unit needs to stay clean, or it can prevent all of the heat from flowing back out of the refrigerant and into the surrounding air. This is technically something you may be able to do on your own, but most experts recommend having it done by a certified technician instead. In order to clean the coil, the cover needs to be taken off the unit.

If the electricity isn’t shut off to the system before taking the cover off, you could get electrocuted. Opening the unit also exposes all of the sensitive internal components that could easily get damaged if you’re not careful and don’t know what you’re doing. The condenser coil itself is fragile, and it’s easy to bend the fins or even puncture a hole in the coil while cleaning it. It’s always better to have this task performed by a professional, as they will use products and tools that can fully clean everything safely without risking any damage to the system.

Have the System Professionally Maintained and Inspected Yearly

While some maintenance tasks are things you can do on your own, annual professional maintenance is still essential for any mini-split AC system. This involves a deep cleaning of all of the components and a full inspection of the entire system to ensure everything functions correctly. This is the perfect time for minor repairs to take place. In hotter locations like Florida, you may want to have your system maintained twice a year since it will typically run for many months each year.

If your mini-split system isn’t properly maintained, your energy bills will start to increase, and the system can quickly start to suffer from poor performance. A poorly maintained mini-split system can have a much shorter lifespan as well.

At J&W Heating and Air + Plumbing, we specialize in both ductless air conditioning and ductless heating, and our team can help ensure your mini-split system is properly maintained and functions properly. We can also assist if your mini-split needs any repairs or you need a new ductless system installed. We also offer installation and service of furnaces and traditional air conditioners, indoor air quality improvements, and thermostat service. For more information on the benefits of mini-split maintenance or to schedule any HVAC service in the Jacksonville area, contact us today.

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