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Can Mini Splits Grow Mold?

Ductless mini splits are becoming more popular in homes and buildings across the country. They offer a cost-effective and efficient heating and cooling system option without the need for ductwork. However, there is a growing concern among homeowners and business owners about mold growth in their ductless mini split systems. As a leading provider of HVAC services in the area, we feel it’s important to address this concern head-on and clear up any misconceptions about mini splits growing mold.

Can Mini Splits Grow Mold?

The short answer is yes, mini splits can grow mold just like any other HVAC system. Mold growth usually occurs in areas where there is moisture and humidity, such as in air conditioning ductwork, air handlers, and evaporators. Even though mini split systems do not have ductwork, they are not immune to mold growth.

Why Do Mini Splits Develop Mold?

Ductless mini split equipment can be prone to mold growth, which can have negative effects on your health, indoor air quality, and the functionality of your system. Mold in your mini splits can be caused by a few reasons, including:

Improper Installation

One of the most common reasons why ductless air conditioners and ductless heat pump systems can develop mold is due to improper installation. When a mini split is installed incorrectly, it can lead to moisture buildup in the system. When moisture stays in the ductless mini split, water vapor can then become a breeding ground that allows a mold infestation to grow and spread throughout the inside of the air handler unit.

Inadequate Maintenance

Another reason why ductless mini splits can develop mold is due to inadequate maintenance. When filters are not changed regularly or coils are left dirty, it can create a breeding ground for mold to grow. Mold spores thrive in these conditions, and they can quickly spread throughout the system.

Humid Environments

Mini splits located in humid environments with excess moisture in the air may also be at risk for mold growth. If there are high humidity levels in your house, it can create a moist environment that is ideal for mold spores to grow and spread. This is especially true if the mini split is used for extended periods of time without proper ventilation.

Clogged Condensate Drain Line

Another common reason why ductless mini splits can develop mold is due to a clogged condensate drain line. When the drain line becomes clogged, standing water can back up into the system, creating a moist environment that is ideal for mold growth.

Symptoms of Mold in Your Mini Split

Below are some of the common signs that your ductless mini split is growing mold. Being aware of these signs can help you take appropriate action and prevent mold from spreading in your house.

  • Foul smell: If your air handlers smell cheesy or like an old gym bag, this is one of the symptoms of dirty sock syndrome, which is caused by a buildup of dust, dirt, and moisture within the air handler. Dirty sock syndrome is often a sign of the bigger problem of mold in your mini split.
  • Visible mold growth: Shine a flashlight inside the air handler and inspect the blower wheel for visible mold growth. Mold can also present as odd-colored splotches on the fins, filter, and evaporator coil of an air handler.
  • Poor indoor air quality: If your mini split is circulating air that is stale, dusty, or creates allergy-like symptoms, it’s a sign of mold growth.
  • Water leakage: If you notice any water leakage, condensation, or standing water around the indoor unit, mold growth could be the reason behind it.
  • Respiratory problems: People who are sensitive to mold can develop respiratory problems like coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath when exposed to mold spores.

The good news is, most of the warning signs of mold growth are easy to detect and can be reported to a professional HVAC contractor to help solve the mold problem. Don’t wait until mold becomes a serious issue; take action at the first sign of trouble.

Regular Maintenance to Prevent Mold Growth

Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to avoid mold growth in your mini split system. Regular maintenance is vital to ensuring that your mini split system operates efficiently and remains mold-free. Here are some essential maintenance tasks that will help keep your mini split system in good condition:

Schedule a Preventative Maintenance Tune Up

Regular preventative maintenance tune ups from a licensed HVAC professional can significantly prevent mold growth in ductless mini splits. The preventive maintenance procedures performed by HVAC professionals include mini split cleaning, checking for leaks, deep cleaning of the evaporator coil, and ensuring that the air handlers and heat pumps are running correctly. During an HVAC professional’s maintenance, they also check for any potential causes of moisture buildup, such as clogged drains.

Change the Air Filter Regularly

Dirty mini split air filters can cause mold and other contaminants to accumulate in ductless systems. Make sure to change your ductless system air filters every one to three months, depending on use and the environment.

Inspect the Drain Line

The drain line in your mini split system can become clogged with dirt and debris, leading to standing and mold growth. Inspect the drain line regularly, and clean it out with a brush or air compressor if necessary.

Control Mold in Your Mini Split

Ductless mini split units can grow mold just like other systems, such as an air conditioner or heat pump. However, timely maintenance and preventative measures can help ensure that your mini split system remains mold-free. If you suspect mold growth in your mini split system, call Douglas Cooling & Heating to inspect the system and perform professional cleaning for your ductless air conditioner units. Contact us today to schedule a service appointment or to learn more about our services.

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