A homeowners points a remote control at the air handler unit of her mini-split system

Ductless mini-split heat pumps offer highly controllable, efficient heating and cooling for your home.

They are very effective and easy to install because they don’t use ductwork, making them ideal options for renovations or add-ons.

Good indoor air quality used to be something that people took for granted, but these days there is much greater awareness of its importance for our health.

With more and more of us suffering from allergies and looking to avoid the health impacts of pollutants in the air we breathe, many people want to know whether their home’s air is safe and if their HVAC system helps keep it free from harmful contaminants.

Does a Ductless Mini-Split Filter the Air?

Mini-splits have filters that remove dust and particulates from the air that they heat and cool. This feature helps keep your indoor air clean and free from allergens. The filters should be removed and cleaned approximately once a month using a vacuum to keep them working well.

The filters used in mini-splits help ensure the air you breathe is clean and healthy for you and your family.

It is essential to keep them clean so they can continue to do their job correctly, and when their useful life comes to an end, you will need to replace them.

To find out more about the best way to look after the filters in your mini-split and when to replace them with new ones, keep reading.

How Do Mini-Splits Work?

Mini-splits have two main pieces—the outdoor unit and the indoor unit (called the air handler or head unit).

The outdoor unit contains the compressor, which pumps refrigerant around the system. The air handler unit is responsible for heating and cooling the air in the building, which is blown into the room using a fan.

A ductless mini-split compressor on the external wall of a home
The outdoor compressor unit of a mini-split

Refrigerant lines and electrical cables connect the two units through a small hole in the wall. The electrical cables carry power and allow the two units to communicate, while the refrigerant lines transport the refrigerant around the circuit.

The refrigerant carries the heat from the cold side of the system to the hot side, which facilitates the heating or cooling function of the mini-split.

The refrigerant is pumped through coils on either side of the system, across which air is blown, allowing heat transfer to or from the air, providing a heating or cooling effect, respectively.

Refrigerants are a complex subject in their own right, and you can find out more about them, including their cost and how environmentally friendly they are, in our article here.

Indoor Air Quality Importance and How Mini-Splits Can Help

Studies show that indoor air quality is often worse than outdoor air because pollutants and particles accumulate in the enclosed space of the home over time. Contaminants are generated from cooking, combustion appliances, smoking, building materials, furnishings, and pets.

Given the large number of potential sources of air contamination, the importance of maintaining good indoor air quality cannot be overstated.

Some of the problems that poor indoor air quality can cause include:

  • Irritation of the eyes, throat, and nose
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Tiredness
  • Asthma

If poor air quality persists for an extended period, respiratory diseases can develop, and even heart disease and cancer can result.

A mini-split system can help mitigate the effects of some of these pollutants by filtering out particles from the air in the home. Even removing pet dander from the air can markedly improve the quality of life for someone who suffers from allergies.

For more information about improving the indoor air quality of green buildings, please read our article, here.

How Do Mini-Splits Filter Air?

The filters in mini-splits do a great job removing harmful particles from the air. 

The indoor unit draws indoor air across the coil in the air handler, which cools or heats the air according to the mode the system is operating in.

As the indoor air passes through the air handler, it is forced through an air filter, which removes dust and other particles before it is blown back into the room. This process is an effective way to safeguard the air quality in your home.

Mini-splits can also regulate the humidity of the air, which helps control the number of dust mites and prevent mold from taking hold in a home, both of which can cause health issues in people.

Do Mini-Splits Need to Be Cleaned?

Mini-split filters need to be cleaned regularly to keep them functioning well. Fortunately, it’s a simple process that only takes about five minutes.

A homeowner installing a wall-mounted mini-split air handler below the ceiling

Here are the steps for cleaning the filter in your wall-mounted mini-split air handler:

  1. Turn off the power to the unit.
  2. Open the unit’s front cover by lifting the small tabs on the side and flipping up the lid.
  3. The filters will be visible on the front of the unit behind the cover. Slide the filters out from the body of the unit.
  4. Clean the filters with a vacuum on both sides.
  5. Slide the filters back into the unit, taking care to line up the sides of the filters correctly.

Mini-split filters should be cleaned about once a month to ensure you continue to enjoy clean air in your home. Cleaning might need to be done more frequently if you have construction work or other dusty activities ongoing in your house.

Paul the Plumber has done a quick instructional video demonstrating all the steps to bring the process to life. You can watch that video here.

A screenshot of a YouTube video on cleaning mini-split air filters by Paul the Plumber
Courtesy of Paul the Plumber

If the filters in your unit appear damaged or torn, it’s time to replace them with new ones. Homeowners can purchase replacement filters inexpensively from the manufacturer.

Final Thoughts

Mini-splits are a great way to heat and cool your home and improve the indoor air quality of your living areas by controlling humidity and filtering out particles from the air as they operate.

The health implications of poor-quality air can be severe, so having an HVAC system that helps to improve air quality is very important. The effects of poor air quality are not only linked to allergies and irritations but can cause more extreme health conditions such as heart disease and cancer.

Therefore, it is imperative to ensure the filters of your mini-split air handlers are kept clean so that they continue to operate effectively. Fortunately, this is a simple five-minute job that only needs to be done once a month.

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