Avoid Mold In Your Ductless Air Conditioner

We’ve got a video to show you. Fair warning: It’s not pretty. Someone in the office here called it, “the pimple popping video of the HVAC world.” But, if your home has a ductless mini split, it’s pretty important.

What you saw was someone cleaning mold out from a ductless air conditioner. Dozens of large chunks of it, spilling out of the air handler in someone’s home. Mold. Home. Two words you don’t want to hear together.

Schedule A Service For Your AC System

Fortunately, for as gross as it is, it’s easy to avoid this from happening. With a little knowledge and a few simple tips, you can enjoy excellent climate control and indoor air quality without worrying about an infestation. You can even prevent mold in a vacation home at the Jersey shore (or anywhere else). Let’s take a look at why and how this happens, what you can do about it, and how you can prevent mold it in the first place.

Four signs of a mini split mold issue

You may have an issue with mold in your mini split if you notice:
  1. A dirty sock or cheesey smell
  2. Black or odd-colored splotches
  3. Lots of moisture or standing water
  4. Respiratory problems or allergy-like symptoms

Ductless From Cipollone

Dirty Sock Syndrome

Yes, that’s a real thing in the HVAC world. Dirty Sock Syndrome is what we call the smell you get when there’s mold or bacteria in a heat pump system. These pollutants tend to give off a stale odor. People have compared it to the contents of an old gym bag or some aged – or fancy – cheese. If that smell is coming from your air handler, it’s likely due to a mold problem.

Black or odd-colored splotches

If your nose has been clueing you into a problem, the next step is a visual inspection. Lift the cover on your air handler and shine a flashlight inside. Do you see black or odd-colored splotches on there? Could be nothing. Could be mold. But, if you spot those spots and you’re noticing other symptoms, call a professional.

Standing water and excess moisture

This isn’t a direct sign of mold. But, you should keep an eye out for it. If there’s still water or a lot of condensation on or around your HVAC system, you could have a problem. Mold and bacteria need dark, damp spaces to thrive. Parts of your heating and cooling system are often tucked away somewhere that’s usually dark. Add dampness or still water, and you’ve got a problem.

Seasonal allergy symptoms and respiratory flare-ups

Irritated eyes, headaches, runny noses, sore throats, and other symptoms could be caused by a host of different things. That’s especially so in the summer when there’s pollen in the air. But, if you’re suddenly getting hit harder in your home, mold in your system could be the culprit. That’s especially so if you’re noticing any of the other signs.

Prevent mold in your ductless air handlers

Regular service can help you avoid mold in your ductless system One of the easiest ways to prevent mold from building up in your ductless air handlers is by not immediately turning off the system when you don’t need it. Mini splits don’t cycle on and off like conventional air conditioners. Instead, they often run in the background in a low-power mode. Sometimes, people think everything’s good to go, and they turn off the system. But, that’s a bad idea. Not only is it maintaining the temperature, but it’s also still draining moisture. Part of the air conditioner’s job is to dehumidify your home. It pulls water vapor from the air, condenses it, and sends it outside. But, when you turn the system off unexpectedly, that moisture stays put. Then, you’ve got standing water in a dark area where that you can’t access. When you leave the system on, however, it can remove that water.
Learn More About Ductless
Next, you can stay on the safe side by using a mold control product designed for these appliances. All you have to do is lift the cover and spray the solution Finally, have your system regularly maintained by a certified professional. They’ll clean the system out to prevent any buildup, and also identify any problems before they get out of control. And, of course, regular maintenance extends the life of your unit, keeps it running efficiently, and ensures your warranty remains valid.

Effects of mold in your ductless system

We touched on a few effects that mold in your ductless system can have on you. But, those scratch the surface. If you leave a problem like this untreated, it will spread throughout the house. And, you’ll feel worse and worse. The more spores you inhale, the more severe the symptoms: headaches, trouble concentrating, even memory loss. Meanwhile, you don’t want it to spread. Mold itself won’t cause any structural damage. But, it also helps breed fungus and other invasive things. Those can eat away at walls and rafters if left untreated. Now, it’s important to understand that spotting a little speck isn’t the end of the world. The truth is, we all have at least some mold in the house. In fact, any black spots on your bathroom tile grout or shower curtain are mold. There are many strains of mold out there. Most are relatively harmless, especially in small quantities. Still, you don’t want to let the situation get out of control. After all, you clean your bathroom regularly, right? In the same way, you want to stay on top of any problems with your ductless heat pump systems. Unfortunately, these components can cultivate mold quickly if you don’t use them properly.

How to clean mold from a ductless air conditioner We can give you some tips on how to clean mold from a ductless air conditioner. But you should get a professional to do it. There’s a risk of electric shock if you don’t cut the power correctly. And, you risk damaging the unit or voiding the warranty. There are some products on the market that allow you to clean out a mini split yourself. To do so, you have to make sure you disconnect the power. Then, there’s a large plastic drain pail that goes directly underneath the air handler. From there, you administer a special solution through what looks like a power washer to clean out the system. It all drains into the pail below.

Schedule A Service For Your AC System
But, it’s messy, and you’ll need facemasks and other protection. If the problem has been going on for a while, especially, we recommend calling a professional. They’ll make sure to do the job right, and you don’t run the risk of making yourself sick. Then, you’ll have peace of mind knowing your system is clean and in excellent working shape. Are you concerned about a mold problem in your ductless mini split? Contact Cipollone, and we’ll clean out your system and help you make sure the problem doesn’t come back.

About the Author

Why Does My Mini Split Smell Funny? Three Common Causes - March 15, 2021

[…] covered this in-depth here. Long story short: Mold spores build up in the air handler if you don’t keep it clean. You can […]

Naeem - September 13, 2021

Air handler is working well. We are very happy with the new heat pumps, air handlers and the digital controllers. Together, they make a great system!

Duct Cleaning Portland Pro - October 14, 2021

Great article! “If the problem has been going on for a while, especially, we recommend calling a professional. ” Agree with this. 🙂 Thanks, and keep on sharing.

Bonnie M. - December 21, 2021

Mini-splits are ductless units that are a great option for installation post-construction in homes where there is no room for traditional ductwork and central air. Ductless systems work very well, but they are susceptible to mold infestation.

Bonnie M.

Sam Blend - January 15, 2022

How will I know when the moisture has been removed from the room and it’s when it’s best to turn it off? Kindly help me understand as I have a reoccurring MOLD issue in the blower wheel.

When the room gets comfortable, I generally turn OFF the a/c. Your article says not to. So when should I turn it off and HOW will I know the room moisture is removed?

And yes, the blower wheel and filters get cleaned thoroughly every 4-6 months, but the smell returns soon after. Please help…

Thanks in advance ….anyone?

Jeff Carbine - February 12, 2022

It was nice that you mentioned that if your nose has been clueing you into a problem, the next step is a manual inspection. My husband and I actually want to enhance the air quality of our house since our children are prone to allergies. We are interested in hiring an HVAC contractor that can install a unit for us to keep clean air inside our house. We will do all your tips.

Grand Rapids Mold Experts - March 7, 2022

Make sure your home’s moisture and humidity levels are under control. The less moisture there is in the home, the less mold there will be.

Tex Hooper - March 15, 2022

I like your tip about cleaning your unit of mold. I need to get a contractor who can replace the coils. I think they are fried.

John Carston - March 23, 2022

I appreciate that you explained the importance of maintenance to prevent the buildup of problems in your unit. My cousin mentioned to me last night that they are planning to have a ducted gas reverse cycle air conditioning system installed in their new home for a cool environment, and he asked if I have any idea what is the best option to consider. Thanks to this informative article, I’ll be sure to tell him that he should consult a trusted ducted reverse cycle air conditioning system installation service as they can help with the proper installation.

Comments are closed