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Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioning Systems: Installation & Repair Services

Is your household in an extended relay race to the thermostat to change the temperature settings because what’s comfortable for one member of the family isn’t right for you?

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Answer these Questions:

  1. Is there a part of your home, like the garage, that you’d love to use more often if only it were hooked up to AC?
  2. Do you ever think about how you’re spending real money to cool your entire house when you’re really only going to be in the home office most of the time anyway?
If you answered YES to any of these questions, you may be a good candidate to reap the benefits of a mini-split air conditioning system, which unlike central air conditioning allows homeowners room-by-room individual temperature control.

There are Many Reasons we’ve seen Houston homeowners install mini-split AC systems.

There’s the hobbyist who wants to make sure their kitchen, sewing or gardening or music room has a well-regulated temperature.

There’s the sports fan or handy man who wants to create the ultimate “man cave” out of their garage or utility room. There’s the gamer who has an entire LAN network and servers and monitors set up for high-speed gaming, and wants to keep cool in the heat of battle, along with their intensive tech set-up, too.

Pretty much any person who wants the ability to accurately control the temperature of a special room, or a room that isn’t connected to central AC, can benefit from a mini-split AC system.

What Is a Mini-Split AC?

Mini-split air conditioners, also known as ductless mini-splits, are versatile and energy-efficient home heating and cooling alternatives to central air conditioners.

Split AC RoomsCentral air conditioning systems tend to involve quality of life compromises. With central AC, You can only set one temperature for the house, and odds are low that every member of a household can agree on the number to set the thermostat to.

Central air conditioners also don’t exactly cool your whole house, leaving unducted garages, basements, and enclosed porches unconditioned and thus effectively unusable during Houston’s long stretches of heat and humidity. And, central ACs use a lot of energy, which you will notice in the form of higher utility bills and lighter pockets.

Friends, we’re here to tell you that we don’t have to live this way.

End the thermostat wars, lower your bills, turn your specialty room for gaming or yoga into a well-cooled oasis, and reclaim the areas of your home that you’ve been ceding to Houston’s heat and humidity with a mini-split AC!

Mini-split ACs give you room-by-room temperature control and can easily be expanded to include even the parts of your home that lie beyond central air conditioning’s reach.

Whether as your only system for home heating and cooling or as a supplement to your central air conditioning, a mini-split unlocks a life in which you can actually tinker in the garage in the middle of summer, or keep your home office nice and cool without also having to cool the parts of your house that your family doesn’t use as often.

Does one of your children like to keep the bedroom cold at night while the rest of the family wants it toasty? A mini-split means you never ever have to argue about it again.

In addition to bedrooms, home offices, and finished garages and attics, mini-split AC systems are great for additions and remodels because they only need a three-inch hole in the wall for conduit. The alternative is spending a lot of money to add ductwork or settling for a window unit, which can make it easier for intruders to break into your home. Mini-split AC’s minimal installation requirements also make them great options for older homes without ductwork, or homes where installing ductwork would ruin important aspects of the home.

The Benefits of Having a Mini-Split Air Conditioner

Five Benefits that Make Having a Mini-Split Air Conditioner in Houston a Smart Choice.

Benefit #1

Individual Temperature Control

With multiple indoor units, mini-split air conditioners can cool individual rooms to different temperatures, so the whole family can have their room just the way they like it. And if you have ever lived with someone who liked it much colder than you do, you understand the value of this feature.

Benefit #2

No Ductwork Required

Mini-splits can be added to supplement central air systems to heat and cool spaces the ductwork doesn’t reach, like garages, enclosed patios, basements, and attics. Installing ductwork to connect spaces like this to central air isn’t always practical, but to install a mini-split all you need is a three-inch hole through the wall for conduit. Mini-splits are also great home AC options for older homes that can’t accommodate ductwork at all or that can, but don’t already have ductwork installed.

Benefit #3

Versatile and Scalable

Mini-split air conditioners can be your only home heating and cooling system, or you can pair a mini-split with your existing central air system to cover additional areas of your home. If you have a larger home and use specific parts of it most often, installing a mini-split can let you control the temperature of the rooms you actually use without having to heat or cool the entire home to achieve the same effect. And if home renovations or additions are in your future, installing a mini-split is a great way to get air conditioning to your new space without also having to pay to expand the ducts to cover the new space.

Benefit #4

Whisper Quiet

Though indoor units are visible in each room, they are discrete in terms of the noise they produce. With sound levels as low as 19 dB and averaging at around 32 dB range, mini-split air conditioners are the quietest air conditioning systems on the market. To put that into context, normal human breathing is about 10 dB, window unit air conditioners fall between 50-70 dB, and central air units range around 50 dB inside and over 70 dB outside.

Benefit #5

Lower Utility Bills

Mini-split air conditioners are energy-efficient home cooling systems that can achieve Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) of around 26 compared to central air, which averages a SEER of around 13. Mini-split ACs also have variable speed compressors that don’t need much energy to operate when compared to central AC.

Mini-splits lose less of the cold air that they produce than central AC because they produce cool air in each room rather than having to use energy to pump it through a duct system. According to the US Department of Energy, a typical house loses 20% to 30% of conditioned air through air ducts. The built-in advantages of mini-duct ACs multiply when energy-conscious homeowners turn indoor units off in rooms that aren’t being used.

To get the most out of your mini-split AC’s energy savings potential, look for a high Energy Star rating when you choose your unit.

How a Mini-Split AC Works

Mini-split air conditioners consist of an outdoor condenser unit connected to one or several indoor evaporator units by an electrical line and pipes that carry refrigerant liquid, which cools the home by absorbing heat and carrying it outside as it cycles between the indoor and outdoor units.

Like central air systems, mini-split air conditioners use refrigerant liquid to produce cool air, with the major components of the unit dedicated to moving refrigerant through the system, blowing cool air into your home, Mini Split Componentsand taking hot air outside. This process can be reversed when operating as a heat pump to provide home heating with the same energy-efficiency advantages.

Mini-split air conditioners consist of an outdoor condenser unit connected to one or several indoor evaporator units by an electrical line and pipes that carry refrigerant liquid, which cools the home by absorbing heat and carrying it outside as it cycles between the indoor and outdoor units.

The mini-split AC’s condenser unit is installed outside. While a mini-split AC condenser unit performs similar functions to the large outdoor units found on central AC systems, a mini-split outdoor unit is much smaller and sits directly on the side of the home. The size difference in outdoor units makes mini-split air conditioners more manageable, though it does sometimes make installation for interior rooms more challenging when there’s not a clear pre-existing route for the refrigerant and electrical lines to connect to the indoor unit. The mini-split AC outdoor unit houses a compressor to pump refrigerant to the indoor evaporator unit and back out to the condenser coils in the outdoor unit, where a fan blows away heat collected from inside your home.

Inside the home, an evaporator unit is installed on a wall in each room serviced by the mini-split unit, allowing each room to independently produce cool air the same location as it is needed. The indoor unit holds an air filter and a blower to move air over the evaporator, and a heat exchanger that removes heat and humidity with refrigerant as warm air blows past it. A drain line (condensate drain hose) is also installed to drain the water that the unit dehumidifies out of the air.

Because each indoor unit contains its own evaporator coil, mini-splits generate cool air in each room separately, making them more energy efficient. In contrast, the evaporator coil of a central air conditioning system is located in a central location (hence the name) near the air handler and relies on a network of ducts to blow the cool air it produces into each room. Cool air therefore needs to move farther to get where it is needed with central air systems, resulting in some energy loss in the ductwork, and can only reach areas of the home that are connected to the duct network.

Mini-Splits Versus Central Air Conditioning Systems

The Pros and Cons of the Mini-split and Traditional Air Conditioning Systems.

Traditional ACS Mini-Split ACs
😊 Operation
  • Produces cold air from a single source and pumps it through large ducts into the home
😊 Operation
  • Produces cold air in individual rooms with a fan and an indoor evaporator unit
😕 Ductwork
  • Requires ductwork to connect conditioned areas
😊 Ductwork
  • No ductwork needed

😕 Temp Control

  • Maintains one temperature for the entire home
😊 Temp Control
  • Customizable temperatures for individual rooms with multiple indoor units
😕 Noise Level
  • Louder (sound levels average around 50-70 dB)
😊 Noise Level
  • Quieter (sound levels as low as 19 dB and averaging 32 dB)
😊 Filtration
  • More powerful air filtration
😕 Filtration
  • Less powerful air filtration
😊 More discrete aesthetically
  • Not visible inside each room or on siding
😕 Less discrete aesthetically
  • Each indoor unit is visible in each room
😊 Lower installation costs
  • Unless your home has no ductwork
😕 Higher installation costs
  • Up-front Costs are roughly 30% higher than central air when comparing them in terms of the space
😕 Less efficient / higher energy bills
  • Only have one or two speeds, so they have to power on and off more often
  • They have to cool the entire house, even if you’re only using part of it
  • Typical SEER of around 13
  • According to the US Department of Energy, a typical house loses 20%-30% of conditioned air through the ducts system.
😊 More efficient / lower energy bills
  • Variable-speed compressors with inverter technology, which means they run only as much as needed, lowering utility bills by around 30%
  • Can achieve SEER of around 26
  • No ductwork means air doesn’t escape through the ducts, which means less energy loss when compared to forced air systems
😕 Less versatile: One setting controls the air temperature throughout the entire home unless you install two split central AC systems 😊 More versatile: Can be used alone, as a supplement to existing forced-air systems, or for specific rooms only

Why Choose John Moore for Your Mini-Split AC Installation

Purchasing the ideal mini-split air conditioner for your needs is best accomplished with the help of a highly trained professional, and that process starts by calling John Moore for a free consultation.

Don Valentine

Mini-split air conditioners are low-maintenance to own and rarely require repairs—unless the mini-split was improperly installed. Improper installation is actually the leading reason mini-split air conditioners need repairs. And, between the complex sizing, use, and placement calculations that take place at installation and the advanced technology each unit contains, installing a mini-split air conditioner improperly is really easy to do if you’re not training in mini-split AC installation.

It takes a seasoned and trained professional with an eye for the bigger picture of how a mini-split will interact with the specific conditions in the room to choose the properly sized mini-split AC for your space and to install the system and its electronic components correctly, loaded with the appropriate amount and pressure of refrigerant. Because there is so much to consider when installing mini-split ACs, John Moore’s mini-split professionals receive ongoing specialized training with top mini-split manufacturers, so you can rest easy knowing your mini-split AC is properly installed.

For the past decade, John Moore has cultivated a close working collaboration with the biggest names in mini-split AC manufacturing and design, including Mitsubishi/Trane and Daikin. Our partnership with these titans of the mini-split air conditioning world means that John Moore service professionals are some of the leading experts for mini-split installs in the Houston area. As a certified provider of mini-split AC services, we also have a direct line to industry experts for consultation on-demand and access to hard-to-get parts. We can even get their reps to come out and consult on complex installation jobs as needed.

In short, purchasing the ideal mini-split air conditioner for your needs is best accomplished with the help of a highly trained professional, and that process starts by calling John Moore for a free consultation.

John Moore’s Free Mini-Split AC Consultation

Purchasing the ideal mini-split air conditioner for your needs is best accomplished with the help of a highly trained professional, and that process starts by calling John Moore for a free consultation.

During your consultation, we’ll come out to your home, discuss your needs and assess the specific spaces you’d like to have air conditioned, take measurements and run a heat load calculation to determine the proper size, and give you the best options for everything: choosing the right size system for your space, the location of the indoor and outdoor units, and if you need additional electrical or renovations work to hook up your mini-split, we’ll cover that during this visit as well.

Choosing the Size and Location for Your Mini-Split AC

To operate efficiently without needing much in the way of repairs, mini-split air conditioners need to be the right size for your specific room and placed in the optimal location. When these calculations are off, mini-splits can short-cycle, which wastes energy and reduces temperature and humidity accuracy. If you go with a system that’s too big, it will cool the space faster than the unit can dehumidify it, leaving you with a humid room and a potential mold problem.

Sizing and location considerations vary based on how you plan to use your mini-split. For example, calculations for adding a mini-split to cool a gaming room that needs to handle the extra heat generated by computer towers will be different from what you need to add a mini-split to keep a master bedroom cool at night.

During your consultation, a John Moore mini-split specialist will take a look at the room you want to install a mini-split AC inside of and talk to you about how you plan to use the room and your options for the indoor unit location.

Evaluating the Need for Additional Work

Depending on the unique needs of your space, we may also discuss any other renovations you may want or need to bring your vision to life. Additional work may include the installation work needed to place a mini-split in the room given its intended purpose, like sealing the room or adding insulation, or running out an electrical line if the space doesn’t have one that’s accessible to power the unit.

The John Moore advantage in this part of the process lies in our ability to coordinate with our own renovations and electrical departments to get the job done with all the work factored into one single estimate.

Your Free Estimate

During your free consultation, we discuss your budget, and look over rebate options, tax credits, energy efficiency, and of course, price, to find the ideal system for your home. And because a new AC system is a significant investment, we go over our financing options as well.

Scheduling Your Installation

We’ll work around your schedule and settle on a convenient date and time to begin installation. If renovations or electrical work is needed, we’ll schedule that, too.

John Moore’s Mini-Split AC Installation Process

In most cases, John Moore can have your mini-split AC installed as soon as the day after your free consultation.

More complex jobs that require renovations or electrical work may take a bit longer for installation. For example, some homeowners prefer to build out a slab for the outdoor unit to sit on, and we’d need to wait for the slab to dry before completing the mini-split AC installation. Homeowners wishing to install a mini-split air conditioner in an interior room may experience longer installation times, too, depending on how challenging it is to run the refrigerant and electrical lines from the outdoor unit that sits on the exterior of the home all the way into the interior room. Houston being Houston, sometimes bad weather may cause a slight delay as well.

  1. Split AC RoomsThe first thing we do when we show up to install is put down a drop cloth and make sure every technician has their shoes covered so we don’t track mud or dirt into your home. We may request to move furniture or valuable items so we don’t accidently bump into, scratch, or break anything. And if you have pets, we may ask for you to keep them in a room or at the neighbors to minimize the chances of any accidents (we‘d hate to scare your pets with loud noises, and we don’t want them to get hurt by our equipment). We measure a second time just to make sure everything will fit through doorways and tight spaces. Then if there is an old system to clear out, we load all of your old equipment into a truck to take back and recycle
  2. After that, we get to work installing your new mini-split AC system. There will be a lot of moving of large equipment and some loud noises as we fabricate parts and drill units into place. Then we connect the refrigerant lines and attach your new system to your home’s power source. And then, we turn it on and make sure the system is operating correctly. If we need to make adjustments, we will until it is perfect. After that, we take you on a tour of your new system, provide you with maintenance tips, and let you know to call us if you need any adjustments or encounter any issues.

Best Practices for Maintaining Your Mini-Split AC

Properly installed mini-splits are fairly low maintenance, provided you keep the drain line, filter, and area around the unit clear and have a professional out for regular tune-ups.

Now, low maintenance doesn’t mean you can forget all about your mini-split until you notice a problem. As is the case with all major appliances, regular maintenance is key to extending the life of your mini-split AC and making sure it’s operating as efficiently as possible—and in the case of mini-splits, the key word here is regular. You do need to be consistent with your mini-split upkeep and build it into your regular home cleaning routine. On the plus side, you can do most of it yourself without ever having to break out a toolbox!

One of the most important objectives of mini-split maintenance is to protect the airflow around the units and check for mold. You can do most of this maintenance yourself, including:

Weekly:

  • Wipe the exterior of the indoor unit with a damp cloth
  • Make sure there’s at least 4 feet of clearance around the outdoor unit and that it’s free of dust and debris

Monthly:

  • Clean each interior unit’s filter, replace filters that are damaged or old, and check for mold while you’re there
  • Clean the exterior of the outdoor unit with a damp cloth
  • Turn the power off to the outdoor unit and hose it down to clear dirt and debris from the unit.

Next you’re going to want to have a seasoned professional with the benefit of ample practice and a trained eye for spotting potential problem areas out once or twice a year to get into each unit to clean the coils and check for mold. These maintenance tasks can coincide with your annual tune-up to make sure the system itself, including potentially hazardous refrigerant liquid and electrical components, is in working order.

Once or twice a year:

  • Clean the evaporator coils in the indoor unit
  • Clean the condenser coils in the outdoor unit
  • Check both units for mold, mildew, ice, and condensation buildup

Annually:

  • Book your annual inspection and tune up
  WEEKLY MONTHLY BIANNUALLY ANNUALLY
INDOOR UNIT Wipe exterior down with damp cloth Clean each interior unit’s filter, replace filters that are damaged or old, and check for mold while you’re there Clean evaporator coils & check for mold, mildew, ice, or condensation buildup (call a professional if you find any) Call a professional to schedule your yearly inspection and tune up
OUTDOOR UNIT Ensure at least 4 feet of clearance and clear dust/debris from exterior Power off the unit and clean the exterior of the outdoor unit with a damp cloth or garden hose Clean condenser coils & check for mold, mildew, ice, or condensation buildup Call a professional to schedule your yearly inspection and tune up
CAN I DO MYSELF? Yes Yes No, because these tasks deal with internal components and call for a keen eye for spotting mold or problem areas developing No, because these tasks deal with hazardous materials like refrigerant liquid and complex electrical components

How To Know if Your Mini-Split AC Needs Service

Properly installed mini-splits are fairly low maintenance, provided you keep the drain line, filter, and area around the unit clear and have a professional out for regular tune-ups.

Though mini-split air conditioners tend to be low maintenance, sometimes they do need some extra attention. In the rare event that a mini-split does need service, the technology in the system makes it easy for a trained professional who knows how to read the error codes to identify the problem and fix it. And in most cases, repairs tend to be on the order of a clogged drain line or blower motor that’s gone out—nothing major, in other words.

Repairing mini-splits is a job for professionals, but anyone can detect the signs of a mini-split AC that needs repairs. Your mini-split might need repairs if it makes persistent crackling or gurgling sounds, stops blowing cool air (aside from when you tell it to), stops dehumidifying, starts making a funny smell, or starts dripping water.

How to Spot Common Mini-Split AC Issues

IF... LIKELY CAUSE
Mini-split AC won’t start Batteries in the remote need to be changed
Persistent crackling, gurgling, or swooshing sound Occurs when it switches into defrost mode, which itself is normal, but if keeps switching to defrost, one of the following may be amiss:
  • Low refrigerant
  • Circuit board flaw
  • Sensors malfunctioning
Not heating or blowing hot air Iced-over coils, which may be caused by insufficient refrigerant, flawed circuit board, or malfunctioning censors
Not cooling or blowing cool air Refrigerant leak
Not dehumidifying Mold in the condensate drain line, or it is oversized (the system is too big for the room, so it cools the room faster than it can dehumidify)
Smells: musty, mildew, sour Mold (check condensate drain line)
Smells like vinegar or gives off a sweet odor Refrigerant leak
Common Mini Split-AC System Problems and Their Causes
AC won’t start Consistent crackling or gurgling sound Dripping water or failure to drain Not heating or blowing hot air Not cooling or blowing cool air Strange smells
New batteries needed in remote ⮿
Leaking or insufficient refrigerant ⮿ ⮿ ⮿
Dirty or clogged condensate drain line ⮿ ⮿
Sensors malfunctioning ⮿ ⮿
Flawed circuit board ⮿
Electrical issue ⮿ ⮿

Mini-Split AC Repair Services

If your mini-split needs repairs, John Moore can handle them all.

Our techs are trained by leading mini-split manufacturers to interpret error codes and address them properly, and we can access hard-to-find parts because of our long-standing relationship with brands like Mitsubishi/Trane.

Mini-Split AC Error Codes

Mini-split air conditioners contain advanced technology that communicates problems through error codes that can be mystifying to the layperson but clear to professionals with the training to understand them. John Moore professionals train with the manufacturers of mini-split air conditioners to speak the language of error codes, and we can get to the heart of the problem and resolve it quickly. And, if your repair requires specialized parts, our long-standing relationship with Mitsubishi/Trane and Daikin makes it easier for us to get them.

How We Fix Clogged Mini-Split Drain Lines

First, we’ll power down the system and main circuit breaker. We’ll vacuum out the water from the pan, and remove obstructions in the drain line.

Preventing Clogged Drain Lines

  1. Remember to book your annual tune-up! During your mini-split AC tune-up, we’ll flush the condensate drain to prevent clogs by cleaning out all the pet hair, dust, bugs, and other debris that finds its way inside.
  2. Keep the area around your indoor unit clean and vacuumed to prevent dirt and debris from eventually clogging the drain line.

Broken Blowers

Over time, normal wear and heavy use can sometimes cause blower motors to burn out and need replacement. You may have a problem with your blower if your mini-split air conditioning loses cooling power. If you think you may have a blower motor problem, or your blower motor becomes burned out, a John Moore technician will come out, run diagnostics and troubleshooting tests, and can replace your blower motor for you.
Warranty

Best of the Best

John Moore Mini-Split AC Warranty

In addition to the parts warranties provided by the manufacturer of each mini-split AC we install, John Moore offers the longest labor warranties for repairs in Houston.

We honor all product warranties from mini-split manufacturers, and offer one to ten year labor warranty coverage on mini-split installations. If you’d like extended warranty coverage, we can discuss your options during your free John Moore mini-split AC consultation and estimate.
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Mini-Split Air Conditioning Glossary

Air conditioner: A system that regulates temperature and humidity to cool the home.

Air handler: The indoor unit that blows conditioned air into the room.

BTU/h (British thermal units per hour): BTU/h represents the amount of heat an HVAC system can remove from or add to the air per hour. Compressor: Part of the outdoor unit; compressors work as the unit’s pump, taking in refrigerant as gas and compressing it to change it to a liquid, and then helping it move to the indoor unit.

Condenser: Part of the outdoor unit, the condenser releases heat accumulated from inside.

Condensate line: A drain line for the condensation that the condenser produces as it cools heated air collected from inside.

Evaporator Coil: Part of the indoor unit, the evaporator coil holds chilled refrigerant that absorbs heat from your home (in a central AC, the evaporator coil is located near the furnace or air handler).

Indoor unit (Mini-Split AC): The indoor unit contains the air handler that blows conditioned air into the room, housing evaporator coils, a fan, filters, and a remote receiver. Inverter technology: Energy conservation technology that allows the system to sense temperature changes and respond by generating only the right amount of power needed to maintain temperature requirements of the indoor unit.

Mini-Split / Ductless system: Energy-efficient air conditioning system that produces conditioned air in each room with an indoor unit connected to an outdoor unit by refrigerant pipes instead of through ductwork.

Outdoor Unit: Containing a compressor, condenser coil, condenser unit, fan, and circuit board, the outdoor unit transforms refrigerant from its gaseous state to a liquid and pumps compressed liquid refrigerant to the indoor unit.

Refrigerant: A substance that changes between gaseous and liquid states as it cycles between indoor and outdoor units and cools air by trapping heat and taking it outside.

Refrigerant lines: Insulated copper tubing carrying refrigerant between the indoor and outdoor units.

SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio): SEER is used to measure energy efficiency, with higher numbers indicating more energy efficiency.