Hot Over the Air Unit

The heat/air unit in The Belle Writer's Studio

Drip…Drip…Drip….

This is the unsettling noise I heard in my office the other day. I got up and checked the bathroom as the toilet has been known to run lately if I don’t jiggle the handle.

I couldn’t find the source of the water there.

I turned down the radio and finally traced the sound to the 1-room wall mounted heating and cooling unit we installed when we built The Belle Writer’s Studio.

About 20 months after the unit was installed and my 320-square foot office was finished, I’m not a fan of the unit.

When we built the studio, I knew I would need climate control to work comfortably. I didn’t want the noise of a window air unit as we have in Our Little House, nor did I want to block the beautiful view. Afterall, I spent extra money installing huge windows so I could see the beauty of the woods while I worked.

I also didn’t want a wood burning stove as we have in the house. I love the deep heat our stove provides, but it is quite labor intensive to chop, split and season enough wood for winters in the house, let alone having enough to heat the office.

As well, the office is sometimes where guests stay when they come to visit and most of our city friends and family don’t want to play pioneer stoking a fire to stay warm all night, if only for a weekend.

The owners of the local county newspaper here had one of these 1-room systems put in and our builder said they were happy with the unit. I called them and they seemed satisfied.

They installed the Mitsubishi unit, however, and we decided to go with the Fujitsu model. For some reason I don’t remember, our builder and the heating/cooling guy made the recommendation for this model and bonus, it was cheaper.

It seemed like a logical choice as the unit functions like a heat pump in the winter and central air unit in the summer. It’s efficient and doesn’t cost a lot to run.

For the first year, it worked pretty well. I then had some problems with it heating effectively last winter. It seems the filter needs cleaning about once a month, problem solved.

This summer, though, it quit cooling altogether. I pulled out the manual and tried all of the troubleshooting it suggested. Two days without air and $75 for the service call, I was told it was low on coolant. Our heating/cooling guy didn’t think it had a leak, but couldn’t explain why a unit that was only 18 months old would need coolant already.

Dale says these units don’t come charged and they probably didn’t charge it properly when it was installed because it was winter.

Whatever the reason, I let the owner of the company know I wasn’t too happy putting money into a unit less than 2 years old. He only charged me for the service call, not the coolant.

This week, the dripping began.

“If the unit is used for long periods under high humidity conditions, condensation may form on the surface of the indoor unit, and drip onto the floor or other objects underneath,” reads the manual.

Lovely. At least it is still cooling in this brutal heat.

If you live in a small space, how do you heat/cool?

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12 Responses

  1. SusanIs says:

    My window A/C unit was doing that this week because it’s been really humid here. It’s an old old unit but keeping the 2nd floor cool. I just had it tilted some so it would be encouraged to drip outside. There’s some “sweating” under the unit but I put a towel and plastic bag under it just in case so I don’t wreck the wood floor. Looking at new Energy Star models and would love recommendations.

  2. That would make me really, really crabby.

  3. MarthaAndMe says:

    Ugh, but at least it’s working. I don’t have AC in my office because I have only one window and I can’t stand having it blocked. So when it gets really hot, I open all the bedroom doors up here and turn all the bedroom ACs on to cool the upstairs.

    • My view is exactly why I didn’t want a window unit in here, but since my studio is a completely separate building, we had to do something. Can’t live in southern heat and humidity without air! 🙂

  4. Kathleen Winn says:

    How aggravating! I hope you get to the cause of the problem soon, Kerri. That constant dripping would drive me nuts, must be messy too. There just isn’t any way I could survive a Midwest summer without AC. Heat and humidity suck the energy right out of me and leave me limp as a wet noodle. Good luck!

    • Oh, I think we would survive, Kathleen, but not very easily. I had to drive to town yesterday in the Baby Blazer without air and I was soaking wet and exhausted when I got home. For the life of me, I don’t know how people survived pre-AC, but it was done. 🙂

  5. Thank you, David. I missed the drain pipe on the first inspection. I will have Dale check it this weekend. Good luck with August and September. About everyday from June on is brutal in the south, so I’m glad we have air.

  6. Alexandra says:

    Hope you figure out what the problem is as that drip can be really annoying. I agonized over having an air-conditioner in my office. Actually, we bought one three years ago for my elderly mom’s bedroom, but she didn’t want it, so we never installed the thing. It sat in the attic until two weeks ago when it got so hot I could not think. I broke down and put AC in the window. My office has two. The other window has a fan. I only use the air-conditioner if the heat/humidity is unbearable, not usually the case here on Cape Cod, but who knows what the future will bring?

    • You’ve had some extraordinary hot weather this summer, Alexandra. When I asked a friend in NY what’s the big deal, that’s what we deal with everyday, she said you all don’t. 🙂 So far, the unit is not dripping this morning, but it really gets going in the afternoon.

  7. David says:

    It could easily be something simple–sometimes, “gunk” forms in the area of the drip pan of the unit, so the regular drain is obstructed. Then, condensate water accumulates until it gets high enough to drip from someplace else. Thus, make sure the unit’s drain is operating properly–if not, it should be a relatively simple clean-out that may be all that is needed to solve the problem. Good luck!

    (As you might tell, I speak from some experience–having had this happen to me once before. Now, I’d love to have one of those units as August and September here can be fairly brutal without it.)