Minisplit cooling pause

A typical summer in Chicago comes with heat and humidity that is every now and then interrupted by cooler spells with lower dew points. Those spells can be pleasant enough for us to stop running the minisplit in cooling mode and instead open the windows.

Once the heat and humidity roars back into town, we shut the windows in a hurry and power up the minisplit for that pleasant cool breeze. Except, there isn’t much pleasantness in that breeze, unless you enjoy a musty and mildew-drenched flavor.

If you abruptly stop the minisplit in cooling mode, the fins on the evaporator/condenser will still be drenched in condensate droplets. It is not easy to see in the above pictures, but believe me, the droplets are hiding in there.

And they will be sitting there for several days like a bunched up, wet towel in the corner of someone’s bathroom. If, after a few days, you dare to pick up that towel and give a sniff, you experience a similar flavor to that of the minisplit after it had been paused for a few hours or days. It is a death knell to indoor air quality (IAQ).

The good news is that this is an easy to solve problem. Rather than abruptly stopping the minisplit in cooling mode, switch it to low speed fan mode, and let it run for half a day or overnight. The fan keeps drawing air across the fins and will slowly dry them out.

It’s like taking your wet towel and hanging it up to dry. That towel definitely will smell a lot better – and so will your minisplit once you start it up again in cooling mode.

If you would also like to dry out the condensation collection pan at the bottom of the indoor unit, keep the minisplit in fan mode for a good day. This is definitely recommended at the end of the cooling season (end of summer).

And if you turn off cooling mode for a week or longer before starting it up again, you may want to consider cleaning the condensate drain line, as described in the previous post, just to be on the safe side.

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About Marcus de la fleur

Marcus is a Registered Landscape Architect with a horticultural degree from the School of Horticulture at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and a Masters in Landscape Architecture from the University of Sheffield, UK. He developed a landscape based sustainable pilot project at 168 Elm Ave. in 2002, and has expanded his skill set to building science. Starting in 2009, Marcus applied the newly acquired expertise to the deep energy retrofit of his 100+ year old home in Chicago.

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