When customers ask us what the best options are for new HVAC systems today, we are quick to suggest ductless heating (and cooling). The reason for this is how efficient and effective these systems are. Rather than operating through a network of air ducts connected to an indoor air handler, like a traditional central air conditioner or furnace, ductless systems have an outdoor unit to which you can connect up to four indoor air handlers. These air handlers are mounted up high on the walls of the rooms in which they are installed, and can be controlled independently of each other.
There are a number of good reasons to go ductless in your home. There are equally good reasons to only trust a professional for the installation! Today, we’re going to look at a downside to ductless systems if yours is not professionally installed. It’s nothing awful, but it requires attention nonetheless. If you don’t know what to look for and expect, you could wind up with significant, costly property damage, and we don’t want that for you. So, what is this downside?
Unique Repair Needs
Every HVAC system needs repairs at some time or another. But there are some repair needs that are unique to ductless systems, and you are at a higher risk if you did not have trained professionals install yours. These include:
Water Leaks Behind the Air Handlers
Each of the wall-mounted air handlers is connected to the outdoor unit of your ductless systems through a conduit routed behind it. This conduit contains a power line, refrigerant line, and condensate drain line. The drain line removes water moisture from the cooling process so that it doesn’t enter your home. These lines can leak, and if this happens water will begin to develop between the back of the air handler and the wall.
What eventually occurs, in this case, is the wall material weakens, causing the air handler to rip away and fall off. This certainly damages the wall, and may break the air handler as well.
Broken Air Handlers
This is actually a bit of a benefit when it comes to ductless heating and cooling systems. If a single air handler breaks due to a failed motor, falling off the wall due to water damage like we mentioned above, or some other problem, the rest of the air handlers throughout the home will still continue to operate.
The only area of your home affected will be the one with the broken air handler installed, and when one of the units stops working you can simply go to another room of your home while you wait for a repair technician to come remedy the situation.
Loss of refrigerant actually isn’t unique to ductless systems, but the potential danger it presents is unique, since refrigerant runs all the way to the indoor air handlers up on your walls.
Keep a close eye on your system so you can take note of any signs of refrigerant loss. This can include a drop in heating power (or cooling power, in the summertime), or coils icing over in the air handlers. Refrigerant leaks must be accurately located, refilled, and the leak patched up so it doesn’t happen again.