Maintenance of split systems: do-it-yourself cleaning, repair and refueling of HVAC equipment

Alexey Dedyulin
Checked by a specialist: Alexey Dedyulin
Author: Julia Kolesnikova
Last update: May 2019

In any climate zone, the issue of adjusting temperature, humidity in residential and industrial premises is relevant. To do this, use various climatic equipment. Split systems are one of the options for such devices. They are distinguished by affordable price, stylish design and functionality.

Like any other equipment, they need regular professional service. As a rule, it is produced by specialized specialists of various companies. But, in some cases, it is possible to service split systems on their own. Learn how to do this later.

Split system design

Before you learn how to service, repair and refuel HVAC equipment, you need to familiarize yourself with the features of its design.

Split system is a rather complicated equipment. It is divided into two main elements:

  • external unit;
  • indoor unit.

In the case of each block contains certain nodes. Outer part split systems include a fan, a condenser, a compressor, a four-way valve, filters and a piping system. Internal - fan, evaporator and air filter. Refrigerant circulates between the units: freon.

Indoor split system
As a rule, there are no problems with new split systems. But, if they are not serviced after the first season, then the malfunctions will not take long

It moves through the piping system. In the process, the equipment is in two physical states: liquid and gaseous. For each of the states of freon, a specific pipeline is designed. They differ in internal and external diameters.

If the operation of at least one element of the system is disrupted, this leads to tangible equipment malfunctions. To avoid significant damage, the owners of such equipment are recommended to carry out its maintenance at least once a year.

If the equipment is located on an industrial site, then the minimum number of preventive examinations should be twice a year.

Freon capacity
It is worth noting that the currently existing freon brands are absolutely safe for humans. Except for R22 refrigerant. It is no longer used in modern technology

Self cleaning equipment

Due to the fact that split-systems pass a large volume of air through themselves every second, pollution is inevitable.

They are formed on the following structural elements:

  • air filters;
  • radiator / heat exchanger;
  • the fan.

If regular cleaning is not carried out, a layer of contamination forms on the indicated elements. It prevents full air exchange, which causes a violation in the operation of automation. Users in this case can observe an insufficient level of cooling or its complete absence.

Cleaning and replacing filters

Air filters are in indoor unit. They are easily removable from the housing. Manufacturers recommend that they be cleaned immediately with each cleaning of the room.

You can do this with a vacuum cleaner. The filter cloth is removed and thoroughly cleaned with a vacuum cleaner. Then the filters must be installed in their place.

But, since not all users perform such a procedure, the filter becomes more clogged. In the case when the vacuum cleaner does not help to fully clean the filter cloth, you must resort to manual cleaning.

Dry Cleaning Split System
In most cases, significant dry filtering can be avoided by regular dry cleaning. It takes only a few minutes

The canvas is washed in warm water with gentle detergents or soap. You can also use specialized detergents designed to care for filters. Drying the canvas is required. After it dries, it is installed in its place in the structure.

If the filter is extremely rarely cleaned or has not been cleaned for a long time, then it is best to replace it with a new one. This is due to the fact that the canvas is designed to delay the smallest particles in the air. Accumulating, they damage the structure of the material.

Even thorough cleaning will not be able to restore it. By installing a damaged air filter in the split system, the user will not receive protection from air pollution.

In production, a removed filter can be cleaned with a compressor. Air is supplied under pressure to the contaminated areas, thereby achieving their purification.

Radiator and heat exchanger care

This operation can also be carried out independently. Elements are located behind air filters. Therefore, it is wise to combine filter and radiator care in one procedure.

Disassembled indoor unit
For preventive maintenance of the radiator, complete disassembly of the unit is not required. It is necessary in case of extremely severe pollution or damage to the radiator

Radiator with heat exchanger combined in a single design. Outwardly, it resembles a metal grill. You will have to clean it manually. A brush with plastic bristles will help in this. With its help, you can clean the device from dust, wool and other dry dirt.

If a greasy film is observed on the radiator, then a steam cleaner must be used. Gently directing a stream of steam into the contamination zone will remove the film. Residues of dirt should be removed with a dry cloth.

It is advisable to dry clean the radiator at least once a month. This will help avoid costly repairs.

The radiator grill is also on the external unit. Getting to her is usually problematic. It is advisable to clean it at least once a year. To do this, remove the grill from the block body. It is attached with a few bolts.

Then it needs to be washed with warm water. You can use brushes with a plastic pile and a sponge. Or use chemicals that do not damage the paintwork.After cleaning, wipe the product dry and install it in its place. You can combine this procedure with cleaning the fan.

Cleaning the fan blades

Much depends on the fans in the split system. They supply air in the right direction. With their help, warm air is vented to the street and cooled. The fans consist of DC motors and impellers with blades.

HVAC fan
The fan occupies a significant part of the space in the unit. The direction of supply of cold air and the strength of the flow depend on it. Therefore, you need to monitor the purity of this product

Fan contamination can reduce engine speed. This can cause it to overheat and soon fail. Also, bulk contaminants can damage and bend the impeller blades. In this case, the direction of the air supply will change and the productivity of the split system will decrease even after cleaning.

Cleaning the fan is not very difficult. You only need to be careful that water and cleaning fluid do not get on the control board and connectors.

Having removed the housing cover and filters, a fan will appear. Its blades must be wiped with a damp rag. You can pre-vacuum the blades if they have a lot of dust.

It is recommended to service the fan of the outdoor unit if there is free access to it. If it is not, then it is better to seek help from specialists.

Freon filling system

Under normal operating conditions, the refrigerant is recharged no earlier than 18 months after purchase. This is due to the natural property of freon to evaporate. Evaporation occurs at the junction of the pipeline or through microcracks in the material.

Refrigerant charge via pressure gauge
The refrigerant tank must be in the same position from the start of work to the end. Therefore, it is necessary to choose a stable tank position and optimal hose length

But, the need for refueling the system may arise earlier. The following events can lead to this:

  • mechanical damage to the pipeline;
  • factory defect - failure of automation in production;
  • non-standard installation of a split system - an increase in the length of communication tubes;
  • system repair without further refueling - for example, compressor replacement.

These are the reasons why a lack of freon in the system can be observed. It is worth noting the fact that the refrigerant will evaporate even from the equipment that has never been connected to the network. Therefore, you need to consider this feature and pay attention to the date of production of equipment.

On average, the amount of freon in the system is reduced by 8% per year. A significant lack of refrigerant can lead to irreparable consequences: jamming of the compressor and its complete breakdown. Therefore, it is recommended to check the level of freon once a year and a half and after each repair.

Stage number 1 - preparatory work

You need to study the technical documentation of your split system. This is necessary in order to determine what type of freon is charged into the equipment and what is the optimal gas pressure in the system.

Further, based on the information received, you need to buy a cylinder with a refrigerant. The most commonly used brands of freon are R410A and R407C.

The first type of substance can refuel the system without pumping out the remains of freon. The second type of substance can be refilled with a split system only after the complete removal of Freon residues from pipelines and a compressor.

Professional gas pressure gauge
It is best to get a professional tool to control the amount of refrigerant in the system. This will avoid situations of refueling or refueling freon in the technique

To work, you will need the following:

  • Freon of the right brand;
  • pressure gauge that will be connected to the cylinder and split system;
  • wrench of the right size.

There are several methods of filling the split system with freon.The most practical method for independent implementation at home is the method of controlling the pressure in the system. Most often it is used by professionals.

To replace the refrigerant, free access to the outdoor unit is required. It has two exits for replacing freon. Gas is pumped and pumped through them.

Stage No. 2 - Freon replacement

Work order refrigerant replacement can be divided into the following steps:

  1. Turning on the split system in maximum cooling mode.
  2. Connecting the pressure gauge to the outdoor unit.
  3. Removing gas residues from the system - if necessary.
  4. Setting the cooling temperature to the middle position.
  5. Portioned gas supply to the system, with verification of the readings on the manometer with factory pressure indicators.
  6. Stopping the supply of freon at the moment when the pressure returned to normal.
  7. Disconnect the hose and pressure gauge from the manifold.
  8. Tightening the terminals for refueling.
  9. Checking the operation of climate technology.

If everything is done correctly, then the equipment will not need to be repeated for at least another year and a half.

Indoor unit maintenance
In some cases, some owners of split systems resort to dismantling the outdoor unit. This allows not only to fill the system with freon, but also to make full-fledged maintenance of equipment in the room

If there is a need for refueling too often, this indicates a refrigerant leak from the system. How to eliminate this will be described later.

Self repair split systems

Repairing such a technique yourself is undesirable. For a full correction of the malfunction, it is necessary to know not only the principle of operation of all structural elements, but also to possess certain tools.

You also need to remember that the split system is powered by mains voltage. And it is dangerous to health and life. Therefore, if there is no confidence in their abilities and skills, then it is better to entrust the diagnosis of malfunctions and their elimination to experienced specialists.

In order to understand what measures you can take yourself to repair a split system, you need to know the main causes of malfunctions. Some of them will be considered later in the article. But most accurately and quickly a qualified specialist can identify malfunctions and damage.

The device does not turn on

The reasons for this may be the following:

  • a dead battery in the control panel;
  • damaged socket or circuit breaker;
  • damaged network cable;
  • lack of voltage in the network or its lack / excess.

The easiest way is to replace the batteries yourself. You can check the outlet with another working network device. If damage is noticed on the cable, it is necessary to immediately stop using the device and carry out work on replacing the wire with a new one of the same cross section.

Appliance Control Board
On the way of electricity from the meter to the control unit, there may be barriers in the form of oxides on the contacts. Often there is a poor connection of the connectors. All this can be the reason for the lack of power supply for the split system.

The voltage in the network must be checked with a multimeter or an AC voltmeter. If the voltage indicator is much lower or higher than 220 V, then you need to think about buying additional equipment to normalize the voltage - stabilizers or converters.

The technique does not cool well

The most common causes of this malfunction lie in the following:

  • lack of freon in the system;
  • obstructed air outlet in the indoor unit;
  • worn compressor;
  • fan malfunction;
  • clogging of capillary tubes.

Due to the small amount of refrigerant in the piping, the compressor is malfunctioning. Modern split systems signal a problem in advance, thanks to the presence of a pressure sensor in the design of the device.

Freon could evaporate or leak out gradually.The following indicates the lack of refrigerant: there is a fan blowing, the compressor works constantly with occasional shutdowns or does not work at all (due to overheating with an extremely low freon content in the system). This malfunction is resolved by searching for refrigerant leakage and its refueling.

Obstacles to cold air are the most common cause of lack of cooling. As a rule, they are presented in the form of a layer of pollution, consisting of fluff, wool and dust. The air outlet should be resumed by cleaning the air filters of the indoor unit.

Contaminated equipment needs cleaning
In the most advanced cases, pollution inside the equipment can cause the spread of unpleasant odors and even diseases. Therefore, it is extremely important to carry out timely cleaning of HVAC equipment.

The compressor is the most loaded element of the system. Wearing it may result in a lack of cooling. Obvious features of the compressor failure: the fans are working, but there are no sounds of the compressor, as well as the cooling itself. But, this can talk about the failure of the capacitors (starting and working) or thermal relay.

To identify the exact cause of the breakdown, you need to check each element individually. To do this, you will need a multimeter and some knowledge in electrical engineering. The damaged part is replaced with a new one. If the compressor has been replaced, then you need to replenish the volume of freon.

Failure of fans can also lead to poor cooling. In this case, the sound of compressor operation is observed, but no airflow occurs - air flow from the split system is not felt. For repair, you will need to open the unit cover, disconnect the fan from the case and the control board and replace it with a new part, observing the polarity of the connection.

Modern fan for HVAC equipment
Fans for split systems are affordable parts. If necessary, you can buy a separate impeller or motor for the required voltage for replacement

With clogged capillary tubes, the circulation of refrigerant through them is disrupted. This leads to the boiling of freon and its evaporation before it enters the evaporator. In this case, the compressor can work continuously, with occasional shutdowns, but cooling will be weak.

If the blockage is strong, then the compressor will work without shutdowns, and the user will receive warm air. The problem is solved by flushing the tubes with special solvents or pressurized water. If this does not help, then the handset changes to a new one.

Another frequent breakdown is leakage from the indoor unit. Why this happens and how to deal with this problem, we described in this stuff.

Conclusions and useful video on the topic

You can more clearly see the process of cleaning the split system in the video:

Carry out independent repairs and cleaning split systems possible with a competent approach to business. It is highly desirable to study the design of the equipment, the documentation for it and the features of the serviced device.

It is also necessary to adhere to safety precautions. If the failure can not be diagnosed and corrected independently, you do not need to re-enable the faulty split system in the network. It is best to contact a specialized company.

If you have questions about the topic of the article, you can ask them in the comments section. There you can share valuable advice or tell how to clean the split system yourself.

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Visitors Comments
  1. Eugene

    A couple of times called the masters to clean the air conditioner. Honestly, the way this is done did not satisfy me. After their “cleaning,” the stench became larger than before. I had to rummage, read, figure it out, now for several years now I have been doing it myself.
    The simplest thing is to wash the filters, but the radiator grill is more difficult, I do it in July, when the poplars blossom, the fluff is full!