Any heating and cooling system is a significant investment for a homeowner. Ensuring you select the right furnace, heat pump, or mini-split system for your space, climate, and needs is essential. However, after choosing a system, you want it to perform efficiently for as long as possible. Read on for more information about mini-split systems and tips on maintaining them to increase their lifespan and maximize efficiency!
What is a Mini-Split System?
A mini-split system is an HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system designed to provide heating and cooling to individual rooms or spaces. Mini-splits are gaining popularity due to their energy efficiency, quiet operation, and ease of installation. These systems can come in two types: ducted, for homes with ductwork that pushes hot or cool air into different rooms, or ductless units, usually mounted to the wall to heat and cool a smaller space. However, like any HVAC system or machine that runs frequently, mini-spit systems can have their share of issues.
Why is Regular Maintenance Important?
Mini-split systems require regular maintenance to keep them running efficiently and prevent minor issues from turning into big breakdowns. Regular maintenance is vital for any HVAC system, and here are a few reasons why.
1. Improved Efficiency and Performance
Any well-maintained machine, from cars to kitchen appliances to HVAC systems, will operate more efficiently. If your system is flushed regularly and inspected for minor issues, it will use less energy to perform its daily tasks and can complete them with increased speed. This ultimately improves efficiency and can save you money on energy bills.
2. Increased Lifespan
Regular maintenance can extend the lifespan of your mini-split unit. Calling a professional to service your machine means they can detect minor problems when they begin, potentially saving you a complete unit failure in the future. This can help increase the lifespan of your investment in your HVAC unit, ultimately saving you money!
3. Better Air Quality
A dirty or poorly-maintained mini-split system can circulate low-quality air. Clogged filters, unclean ductwork, and debris in your unit can circulate dust, mold, and other allergens trapped in your system throughout your home. Regular maintenance flushes out and cleans out your entire mini-split, breaking down the buildup of dirt, grime, and other harmful substances.
4. Fewer Breakdowns
A total shutdown of an air conditioner in the middle of summer or a heater in the dead of winter can quickly make your home unlivable. Subsequently, you want to keep your mini-split in optimal shape. Regularly scheduled maintenance can help your HVAC professional help catch problems when they are small, preventing future breakdowns. Plus, a smoothly running machine will ensure fewer problems when kicking your HVAC into high gear.
Tips To Maintain Your Mini-Split System
The importance of regular maintenance for your mini-split system is evident. Now, look at specific steps to maintain your unit for optimal efficiency. Read on for the 6 top tips for mini-split system maintenance!
1. Clean the Filters Regularly
The filters in your mini-split unit help remove dust and other particles from the air before circulating throughout your home. Over time, these filters can become clogged with dirt and dust, reducing airflow. Dirty filters can decrease the system’s efficiency and increase energy consumption. Luckily, this can be prevented with regular cleaning.
Filter cleaning and replacement is one of the most manageable HVAC maintenance tasks the average homeowner can complete independently. The filters should be cleaned at least once a month and replaced every three to six months, depending on usage. Cleaning the filters is especially important during the spring and fall seasons when pollen and other allergens are at their worst. You can remove your filters from the unit and vacuum or wash them to clean them properly.
Most mini-split systems have washable filters that can be easily removed and cleaned with water. To wash your filters, remove them from the unit and rinse them under running water. Be sure to let them dry completely before reinstalling them. Some systems may also have disposable filters that need to be replaced periodically. Check your owner’s manual for specific instructions on how to clean or replace your filters. Be sure to match any replacements with the exact make and model of the previous filters to avoid any issues with your unit.
2. Check the Outdoor Unit
Mini-splits consist of two primary components: an indoor unit responsible for distributing air and an outdoor unit compressing and condensing the air. Regularly checking your outdoor unit is essential for the health of your system. The outdoor unit of your mini-split is exposed to the elements, which means it can collect dirt, leaves, and other debris over time. This can reduce airflow and decrease efficiency. To prevent this, it is critical to check the outdoor compressor regularly and remove any debris or obstructions that have accumulated around the unit.
Start by turning off the power to the compressor. Then, remove any leaves, grass, or other debris that may be stuck to or have been sucked inside the unit. Simultaneously, check for any signs of damage, such as dents or scratches. Compressors can sustain hail damage, rust, decay, or damage from high winds and storms. Clear away any plants or bushes growing close to the unit that could impede its function in the future. If you notice any damage upon your inspection, contact a heating and cooling professional technician to have it repaired.
3. Inspect the Indoor Unit
The indoor portion of your mini-split system is the part that circulates air throughout your home. Over time, dust and dirt can accumulate on the fan blades, reducing airflow and decreasing efficiency. Inspecting the indoor unit regularly and cleaning it as needed is critical to prevent this. If you have time, you can do this while cleaning the filters!
First, you must switch off the power to the unit. Next, remove the cover from the indoor unit and use a soft cloth or brush to clean the fan blades. Take care not to damage the blades, as they are delicate and require a professional to replace them. After cleaning the components inside the mini-split, replace the cover and power it on!
4. Optimize Energy Efficiency
Depending on your unit, mini-split systems can be located in various places, an attic, closet, or on a wall. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always make for the most accurate readings. For example, we all know that heat rises – so if your unit is mounted on the wall near the ceiling, it likely isn’t getting an accurate reading of the temperatures closer to the ground where you are spending your time. You can invest in a smart mini split controller to help increase your system’s efficiency.
A smart controller is a hidden thermostat that will read temperatures closer to where you are and communicate it with the master unit to increase effectiveness. You can also set the temperature from your phone and set timers and weekly schedules based on activity. Monitoring your use more closely and giving your system a break will help increase its longevity and efficiency and save you money on those electricity bills!
5. Check the Refrigerant Levels
Refrigerant is the substance that flows through your HVAC system and absorbs heat from the air in your home. Ensuring the refrigerant levels are within the manufacturer’s specifications is vital for optimal AC function. If there is not enough refrigerant, your system will not cool or heat your home correctly. It will cause your system to work harder, reducing efficiency and increasing energy consumption. Conversely, too much refrigerant can damage the compressor and other components.
Checking the refrigerant levels on your mini-split system is a delicate and complicated process. A licensed HVAC professional should only conduct this procedure. Technicians have the experience and expertise to identify issues in your mini-split and ensure it runs efficiently and effectively. Refrigerant levels should be checked at least once a year. Any quality HVAC professional will have this process as a part of your routine yearly maintenance schedule.
6. Use Your System Efficiently
The simplest way to maximize your mini-split system for optimal efficiency is to use it wisely. Set the temperature to a comfortable level and avoid extreme temperature changes. If you want to cool or heat your home, do so gradually. Use a timer or smart controller to turn the system off when you’re not at home, and make sure it isn’t working as hard when it doesn’t have to, for example, at night or during the heat of the day. Keep doors and windows closed to prevent drafts that counteract your hardworking unit. Making small changes to your daily habits and HVAC use can significantly impact efficiency and energy consumption and, ultimately, the health and longevity of your mini-split!
How Apollo Heating and Air Conditioning Can Help
Are you searching for heating and cooling solutions in the Tri-Cities, Washington, area? Apollo Heating and Air Conditioning is here to help! Our team of experienced professionals has been installing and maintaining various HVAC units and systems throughout Washington for decades. We work with you to consider your needs, home size and space, and budget to determine the best solutions for you and your HVAC systems. If you want a mini-split system or other HVAC, visit our website to check out our product offerings and services. If you already have a mini-split or additional HVAC, you can also schedule professional HVAC maintenance service with Apollo Heating and Air Conditioning. We look forward to helping you journey to a more comfortable home!