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Shout out to Do it yourselfers!
Old 11-28-2013, 11:45 PM   #1
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Shout out to Do it yourselfers!

I just successfully installed a Mini Split Ductless heating/cooling unit in my house. It's one of the easier projects to have tackled. The heat pump professionals try to scare you away from buying units on the web, and self installing. I'm proud to have saved $3500 over my neighbors "professional install" and personally think mine works better.

Learning new things is fun, and if professionals can do it, so can I with a little research. The internet has opened the world to Do-it-yourselfers. The trick is to filter out internet BS, understand basic principles, and go for it!

What "Do it yourself" projects are you proud of?
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Old 11-29-2013, 12:03 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DAYDREAMER View Post
I just successfully installed a Mini Split Ductless heating/cooling unit in my house. It's one of the easier projects to have tackled. The heat pump professionals try to scare you away from buying units on the web, and self installing. I'm proud to have saved $3500 over my neighbors "professional install" and personally think mine works better. Learning new things is fun, and if professionals can do it, so can I with a little research. The internet has opened the world to Do-it-yourselfers. The trick is to filter out internet BS, understand basic principles, and go for it! What "Do it yourself" projects are you proud of?
Congratulations!

Hoe did you deal with initial startup? Charging with fluid, bleeding out the air, etc?
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Old 11-29-2013, 05:16 AM   #3
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Just completed (yesterday) giving our walk-in pantry / laundry room a makeover. I ripped out all the old wire shelving, patched holes, painted and build new shelving through out. We have all kinds of storage room now! I must have did something correct because DW said she is no longer ashamed to keep the pantry door opened.

On a side note, is it just me or is painting one of the most mind numbing tasks to do?
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Old 11-29-2013, 06:15 AM   #4
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On a side note, is it just me or is painting one of the most mind numbing tasks to do?
Maybe it's just me, but I consider removing wallpaper to be cruel punishment.
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Old 11-29-2013, 07:41 AM   #5
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Maybe it's just me, but I consider removing wallpaper to be cruel punishment.
+1
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Old 11-29-2013, 07:57 AM   #6
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I consider wallpaper to be cruel punishment...
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Old 11-29-2013, 08:35 AM   #7
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Congratulations!

How did you deal with initial startup? Charging with fluid, bleeding out the air, etc?
I'm curious, too, as I am contemplating doing my own full sized split sytem and farming out the brazing, evacuation and balancing. The HeVAC industry is amazingly good at protecting their self interests with scare tactics.
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Old 11-29-2013, 08:54 AM   #8
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The HeVAC industry is amazingly good at protecting their self interests with scare tactics.
That seems to be true of just about every trade. Just completed a major DIY bathroom remodel and it was funny reading some of the advice (scare tactics) given by the so called tile experts on the DIY forums.
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Old 11-29-2013, 09:15 AM   #9
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I just successfully installed a Mini Split Ductless heating/cooling unit in my house.
. . .
What "Do it yourself" projects are you proud of?
I converted our house from oil forced-air heat to a natural gas furnace. I had a plumber instal the new gas service to the house, but I installed the furnace (built the new duct adapters, etc). It was a very satisfying project, I saved a lot of money and got the correct size unit (not the larger one the local HVAC "experts" recommended based on their rules-of-thumb), and the thing is still working great 8 years later.

Other recent projects: Installed "architectural stone" (fake rock, looks pretty good!) and vinyl on our detached garage/shop, tearout walls/replace tile in a bathroom (currently ongoing), and add insulated walls and ceramic tile floor to an unfinished basement (also in progress). My biggest DIY project was installing an external foundation drainage system (before starting to finish the basement), that involved lots of digging with rented equipment, possibilities for injury/disaster, etc--the stuff of which stories are made. Not a drop of water has entered our basement since I did it, which is great.

I've learned there are some jobs that are not good DIY projects: Sometimes you get into it and decide the specialized expertise or low-cost hourly "grunt work" is worth buying. I put drywall mudding/taping in the first category. But, even when I decide to hire the job out, I've always been very glad that I did enough research to ask the right questions, assure the right materials were used, and to know what "right" looks like. Otherwise, you can count on paying too much for a shoddy job.

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Originally Posted by Pleeplus View Post
On a side note, is it just me or is painting one of the most mind numbing tasks to do?
I don't mind it much, it has a high "Wow" factor for the time invested.

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Originally Posted by spncity View Post
Maybe it's just me, but I consider removing wallpaper to be cruel punishment.
I thank my lucky stars frequently that DW doesn't care for wallpaper. It's foul stuff.
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Old 11-29-2013, 09:42 AM   #10
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Learning new things is fun, and if professionals can do it, so can I with a little research. The internet has opened the world to Do-it-yourselfers. The trick is to filter out internet BS, understand basic principles, and go for it!
Kudos on a great accomplishment... Almost tried it except...
In order to get parts... I had to go to the A/C supply store (for technicians only) and go to the back door, to buy parts... Plain ole dumb customers seen in the store are cause for a tech boycott. (Man behind the curtain).

MY estimate for replacing a heat pump was $5800... in a mobile home, with existing duct. Bought 2 -12,000 BTU window A/C's for $600 instead. We'll be selling or giving the house away next year. 2nd rule after "economies of scale".....
Economies of Time
.................................................. .........................
Other than A/C... have alway done everything myself. Roofs, Kitchens, Cars, Furnaces, Boats, etc....
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Old 11-29-2013, 09:51 AM   #11
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DayDreamer, I have been thinking of doing a similar thing. Would you mind letting us know the make and model you installed, and you initial impressions of it?
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Old 11-29-2013, 10:47 AM   #12
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Other recent projects: Installed "architectural stone" (fake rock, looks pretty good!) and vinyl on our detached garage/shop, tearout walls/replace tile in a bathroom (currently ongoing), and add insulated walls and ceramic tile floor to an unfinished basement (also in progress). .
.
.
.
I've learned there are some jobs that are not good DIY projects: Sometimes you get into it and decide the specialized expertise or low-cost hourly "grunt work" is worth buying.
I'm curious. We've recently purchased our snow bird house in FL, and I'm looking at a decade or so of projects. One of the big ones is due to the lovely white with pink and gray highlights floor tile throughout the entire house. The house is on a slab, and I'm considering redoing the tile ourselves. Is tearing it out worthwhile? Or can I just tile over the old? Or is this one of those projects that's not a good DIY fit? I'm pretty handy in general, but I've never done tile work. So, opinions from the peanut gallery? Thanks.
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Old 11-29-2013, 11:11 AM   #13
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The install is fairly straight forward. I bought a LG Mini Split 1800 btu unit. I dont think you can go wrong on any of the popular brand names. LS181HSV3 - LG LS181HSV3 - 18,200 BTU Ductless 20.5 SEER 1-Zone Conditioner/Inverter Heat Pump Package

Key things to note on the system. The outside unit comes with a precharge of refrigerant to allow for a 25' lineset (tubing) to be used. If your installation requires longer, you will need to figure out how to charge the system with more refrigerant. I was able to use a 25' lineset, so no extra coolant reqd.

1st step, mount outside unit. I mounted it to the wall of the house. you can mount to a concrete pad, but after seeing how much condesation flows out the bottom, i would mount it a minimum of 12" off the ground. This will help in winter months when ice can form underneath.

Step 2: Mount inside unit. Find a location in your house that the unit can throw air most efficiently to the majority of the space. Also, keep in mind that you need to route a copper lineset that has to travel to the outside unit. Thats the strategic part of the Project. Requires drilling a 3" hole in the wall to route the lineset through.

Step 3: Run the copper lineset. The copper lineset is pliable copper tubing that is insulated. It is shipped to you coiled up, and you have to uncoil as you route to your inside/outside destination. Connect your premade flared fittings onto your inside and outside unit.

Step 4: Hook up your wiring. My system reqd 220v 20amp circuit. I wired an outside service disconnect box, and put a 220/20 amp breaker in my main house panel. Fairly straight forward wiring to the outside unit. Next was to wire the communication/power wire from the outside unit to the inside unit. This required a 14g/4 stranded wire.

Step 5: Now the critical part (evacuation). You need to use a vacuum pump and a micron guage to do this. A buddy and I went in together and bought the equipment that ran about $300. You hook up the vacuum pump to the service port of the outdoor unit. You pull vacuum until you read a minimum vacuum of 500 microns or less. This step took me 45 minutes to achieve. Do not do this step without the micron guage. You need to make sure to get all air out of line. Once 500 or less microns is achieved, shut all valves of vacuum lines and watch micron guage to check for leaks. Once you are convinced no leaks, you turn the Allen wrench in the service unit to introduce refrigerant into lineset. I did a second leak check by blurping 5 seconds of refregerant into the linset, then checked all my connections with bubble leak check fluid. After check is done, release the rest of the refrigerant into lineset. Your charging is done!!!

Step 6: Go turn on the system with your remote.

Impressions of the Ductless-------AMAZING. The heat output at outside temperatures above 32 degrees (thats the lowest outside temp ive seen so far) Is very comfortable. I can maintain 72 degrees in my house with no problem, and the Inverter Technology figures out the heat required to keep house at your particular set point, and slows or speeds up the compressor motor on the outside unit to compensate. The unit is always on, and throws out exactly the amount of heat to match the heat loss of your house. The benefit of this is, there is no on/off cycling like standard household heating units.

Ductless may not be for everybody. In climates that are sub zero, the efficiency goes way down. Also, if you have a house that is very compartmentalized, it may not work so well to heat the cubby hole rooms. I dont have any experience in multiple head units.

Summary, I love my new heating/cooling unit
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Old 11-29-2013, 11:30 AM   #14
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Thanks Daydreamer for all the details. Step 5 was the one I was wondering about. Would you be willing to say which pump and gauge you selected?
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Old 11-29-2013, 11:37 AM   #15
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Thanks Daydreamer for all the details. Step 5 was the one I was wondering about. Would you be willing to say which pump and gauge you selected?
HVAC Vacuum Pump JB | eBay

BluVac LTE Digital Micron Gauge
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Old 11-29-2013, 11:48 AM   #16
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oops, you'll also need these:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/R410a-Freon-...-/190982265954

Adapter R410A R22 1 4"FM Flare x 1 4"Male | eBay
http://www.hvacr-tools.com/product/y...with-side-port
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Old 11-29-2013, 12:04 PM   #17
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just fixed a leaky bathroom faucet. But... that's not the best part.

The best part was discovering Moen provides for lifetime cartridge replacement as long as you are the original owner of the faucet. They sent me 2 cartridges for FREE - a value of $20+ at my local hardware store.
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Old 11-29-2013, 12:14 PM   #18
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.......... Is tearing it out worthwhile?
Only if it is not firmly attached and you cannot accept a higher threshold at doorways

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Or can I just tile over the old?
Yes, you may need to rough up the old with an angle grinder - technically easy but laborious

Quote:
Or is this one of those projects that's not a good DIY fit? I'm pretty handy in general, but I've never done tile work. So, opinions from the peanut gallery? Thanks.
I've done a lot of tile work - it is not rocket surgery. Buy a cheap wet tile saw at Harbor Freight to make nice cuts, especially irregular shapes. Read some good books on the topic, look at YouTube videos, read some online tiling forums.
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Old 11-29-2013, 12:20 PM   #19
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I'm curious. We've recently purchased our snow bird house in FL, and I'm looking at a decade or so of projects. One of the big ones is due to the lovely white with pink and gray highlights floor tile throughout the entire house. The house is on a slab, and I'm considering redoing the tile ourselves. Is tearing it out worthwhile? Or can I just tile over the old? Or is this one of those projects that's not a good DIY fit? I'm pretty handy in general, but I've never done tile work. So, opinions from the peanut gallery? Thanks.
I was in the "handy, never done tile work club" 3 years ago. Since then I've completely gutted and redone two bathrooms and installed ceramic tile ember protection with a fireplace. My approach was to watch a lot of instructional info on youtube. Worked for me.

Don't consider tiling over existing tile for a moment longer
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Old 11-29-2013, 12:21 PM   #20
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Read some good books on the topic, look at YouTube videos, read some online tiling forums.
Research is the key to a successful "Do it Yourself" project! A combination of good information, studying, and a true desire to succeed will make most projects come out good. I cant think of any disaster DIY projects i've done. Wait, i did have a stripped screw on one of my projects that ended in a screw driver getting thrown through the sheet rock!
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