The short answer to this is, “yes.” But that shouldn’t deter you from considering this HVAC system as your next home comfort installation, if you don’t already have one! This is actually one of the most common options for heating and cooling in modern homes, and for good reason. Instead of operating through a network of ducts connected to an indoor air handler and evaporator unit, ductless systems break up the indoor unit and blower fans to distribute air throughout the home by use of mini air handlers mounted on the wall in each of the rooms intended to be heated or cooled.
This set up allows for effective and efficient heating and cooling around the home. But it is important to know that ductless heat pump systems do have special needs and can malfunction in the same way a regular heat pump or air conditioner can, just with a few added factors to consider.
Water Leaks Behind the Air Handlers
Each of the wall-mounted air handlers have a series of connections routed through a hole behind it—a power line, a refrigerant line, and a condensate line. This last one is tasked with removing water moisture from the cooling process so it doesn’t enter your home, instead.
These lines can leak, however, and if that happens water can begin developing between the back of the air handler and the wall. What eventually occurs is the weakening of the wall material causes the air handlers to rip away from the wall they’re installed on and fall off. This not only damages the wall, but most likely the air handler, too…
Broken Air Handlers
…which brings us to our next unique ductless repair need: broken air handlers. This is actually somewhat of a benefit when it comes to ductless systems. Wait, wait, hear us out!
If a single air handler breaks due to a failed motor or some other problem, the rest of the air handlers throughout the home will still continue to run. The only part of the home affected by the loss of heating or cooling is the one with the broken air handler. When one of the air handlers stops working, you can simply call for repairs and then hang out in an unaffected room while you wait.
Leaking Refrigerant Lines
Loss of refrigerant can be harmful to any air conditioner or heat pump system. That is because this fluid is what’s responsible for actually going through the cooling and heating process that brings conditioned air into your home. You may have been told at some point that refrigerant dissipates and must be refilled (what those in the industry call recharged) during each maintenance appointment. This is a misunderstanding and simply not true. If your system is losing refrigerant, it means there is a leak that must be repaired.
And in a ductless system, you risk the same sort of damage that a water leak brings—damage to your wall and damage to the air handler. Not to mention having refrigerant released into your home can be unhealthy for you and your family. A loss of refrigerant will lead to a drop in output, and potentially a frozen-over outside unit. You might hear a hissing or bubbling noise if refrigerant is leaving your system. Be sure to call for repairs right away if you suspect you have a leak.