In the middle of summer in Oklahoma the weather is hoooooot. A/C makes life a bit more bearable at 4 in the afternoon. I was fortunate to get to help my dad install an A/C unit in his shop this past weekend. It was a beast at the 36k model of the Mr. Cool DIY Mini Split.
This episode I talk a bit about the ups and downs of it, as well as what I think of the A/C installation process. And I give a super important note about receiving your unit if you are having it shipped to your house.
If you prefer to watch
Hello, and welcome to the 31st episode of the BudDIY Podcast. I’m your host, Buddy Lindsey, and today we’re going to talk about my experience installing a 36k unit of the MRCOOL DIY Mini Split in my dad’s shop. But before that, if you haven’t visited the website in a while, feel free to do so at BudDIY.net and feel free to sign up for the email newsletter. If you are watching on YouTube, feel free to hit subscribe and hit that notification bell so you know when new episodes are released. And if you prefer podcasts, then we are available on most major platforms. Go ahead and give us a subscribe over there.
On that, let’s jump into the episode and what is going on around here. Well, this week I made a good amount of progress on my bookshelf that I’ve been doing for the weekend woodworker course. It was definitely a little bit interesting because I made the 10 foot pipe clamps I talked about last week, and I got everything glued up this week. I’m doing some of the cuts for that back panel. The back panel was definitely an interesting experience. Glad it’s going to be facing the back of a thing, because they’re a little wonky in a couple of spots.
But I got it done, and actually learned a couple things along the way, and remembered a couple of things that I should have done. And one of those being, this week, is use my bow products guide feather board. I forgot about it for the first couple of cuts and was doing some really odd things to help hold the wood securely while keeping my hand plenty away from the blade, which I now cut with the blade guard on, so I never even got my hand close to the blade guard. Definitely a lot more cognizant of where my hands are, for sure.
But after a few cuts, I remembered using the bow products feather board that I got to hold everything there, and it just ran the wood through, these are 80 inch long pieces of wood, and it cut magnificently, and a lot better cut from what I was trying to do earlier. So I need to remember to use that thing more than I did.
Yeah. I’m hoping to actually finish the bookshelf this week, if not staining it and finishing it, the very least all the construction parts. There’s a few things that I don’t need to do, since it’s going to be an 80 inch tall, or actually a little taller than that, bookshelf, specifically some of the very, very top stuff I don’t need to do because I don’t know too many people that will be able to see the top of it like it was originally designed to do, so I can just do some of the fancy stuff on the outside from looking up. So that’ll save a little bit of time and frustration.
Along with the land of unintended consequences of changing the design of something, I ran out of clamps when I was clamping up the front frames along the sides. And so I was only able to do one at a time, so it took me a lot of extra time. On that, if I only had two more clamps available, it would’ve worked out perfectly, so I went ahead and ordered those two clamps and got those in, and now hopefully if I do something like that again, I won’t run out of clamps, but I’m sure I’ll glue something up at some point and I’ll run out of clamps again. We will see.
But yeah, all I’ve got to do left is put one more frame piece on and build the shelves, screw the holes in for the shelves, and then do some kind of, not crown molding, that’s the only thing I can think of, around the top, and I’m ready to finish.
So I’m just excited, I’m making great progress again. And then I am ready to jump onto the next thing, and that is to set up my drill press that came in, and to tune in my jointer, finally, because the next woodworking project I have is the wall cabinet from the weekend woodworker course, which is the very last one. And since I have a nice piece of rough sawn, or I guess actually it’s S3 Walnut, sitting next to me on the ground, I have to figure out my jointer and my planer and get everything dialed in so I can get just the size of wood that I want to do for that.
So on that let’s jump into the main segment of today, and that is my experience installing the MRCOOL DIY Mini Split system. And let me tell you, it is awesome. It is super simple, and if knowing what I know now, if everything was ready to go, I could probably install one in a little over an hour. That’s how simple they are, and that’s how awesome that the MRCOOL people did at getting this thing engineer.
Now for me, it took us an entire day to get it done, and I want to go through why. So the first thing is the unit comes in two separate boxes. One comes with the main inside unit, and the other with the main outside unit. And the first thing is you open up the inside unit, and you start reading the instructions, and it gives you everything you need. So I kind of read through the instructions, I walked through everything, and I realized the instructions, before having me move on to the outside unit, had one piece that I had to do close to the very end, and that piece wasn’t in the box.
And so I’m like, great, where could this thing be? I thought maybe I dropped this, so I was walking all over the shop, looking for it, and I just could not find it. And my brain was just stuck on the fact that it’s got to be in this box since it’s the entirety of the inside unit, and this is part of the inside unit.
Well, finally we were just like, I don’t know what else to do. Let’s just go open up the other box and see if it’s in there. And low and behold, it was in the big box with the outside unit. So that was a little bit frustrating, and that wasted some of our time to do the install. And that piece was the piece that you shove in the hole before you put the unit on, so that it has something nice to go through to the outside and protect from the installation and other stuff in the wall itself. And this actual little piece caused us a little problem that I’ll get to here in a minute.
But yeah, once we found that, we fully went ahead and unboxed the outside unit and took a look at it. And this is where I want to kind of give you all some advice, or an idea, or a tip, is whenever your people come to drop it off and you actually receive it, before your shipping people leave, pop open the big box of the big main unit and look at it to see if there’s any damage. While this thing worked, man, somebody had to have dropped this unit somewhere along the line because it had dents in a bunch of different places, almost couldn’t get the top off to be able to try to undented in a couple of spaces.
But we didn’t open it until three days after my dad had received it, and so it’s not like he could reject shipping at that point, because he’d been sitting on it for a couple of days for me to come up and help put it together. Because this is the big unit. This is a big, big unit. And I don’t know that either one of us could have done it by ourselves without hurting ourselves. So definitely open the box, take a look so you can reject shipment if it is damaged. But I do want to reiterate on that point, it did still work.
So after that, we just followed the instructions like we were supposed to. We pulled the back plate off and took the little cardboard insert. Wind it up on the wall where we knew studs were going to be. Used a little punch through the cardboard, and that’s where the screws were going to go. Screwed in the plate that was there for it. With this, though, we did a lot of double checking, and we did a lot of… we literally hung the cardboard on the wall and put a level on it, and then punched every hole, and then punched where the hole that we needed to drill through the wall went. And then we took that down and then we hung the plate itself that’s going to support the inside unit on the wall, and double checked all those little holes that we had punched earlier, were in the exact same place they were supposed to be. They were, and so we were good to go.
And then after that, on the cardboard diagram, they actually give you measurements of distances of different things. And I went ahead and jumped up there with a tape measure and double checked all the distances from different holes were in the same spot, especially where we have to drill the hole to run the lines through to the outside. Might have gone a little overboard, but I did it just to be doubly sure that everything was going to go correctly, because I didn’t want a line to be kinked in the wrong place, or at all, and I want it so that it would work properly.
So after that, we were ready to actually put the inside unit up on the wall. So we took it, we lifted it up on the back, and we bent out all of the lines, so they were kind of pointing straight out from the unit. And then we went and shoved the insert that goes into the outside, into whole… double checked on the outside where the end of it was, so that we knew what to cut off. We cut off the excess of that pipe that we shoved through the hole, put it back into the hole. And then we pushed the unit, the cabling, the Freon cables, through the hole.
And then I went to go set it on the bracket, which that would normally go super duper easy, except we actually put the little pipe that goes through the hole in the wall, on wrong. And it’s like, what the heck? How do you put that on wrong? And, well, there is this thing where it’s fully round, except there’s a top edge cut off of the pipe, and we’re like, why is that cut off there? It’s not in the instructions why it’s there, it’s not in the instructions what way to put that pipe, so we were like, well, maybe since it needs to be at a downward angle, it’s so that it doesn’t bend the plastic very much, which was like, okay, whatever, didn’t think it was going to be that big of a deal, so we put it up there.
But when we put the actual unit on the wall, there’s a little piece of that pipe sticking down below the unit, and so it wasn’t a flush fit to the wall. And we’re like, oh. So if you go to put your own in, make sure that pipe that has a cutoff flange end on it, make sure that’s down so you actually have a flush fit to the wall.
And in actually telling you all that, I realized I missed a step, and that is the actual drilling the hole through the wall. So we needed a three and a half inch hole saw, and this thing actually went pretty good. We got a really long bit, I don’t know, I think it was probably like two feet long, and we drilled straight through. Just straight through the wall, because we kind of wanted to make sure we got a precise amount, or a precise angle, because in the instructions that you need to go kind of downward, like 0.2 inches from where the hole is, down.
And so we just were like, Hey, let’s drill a hole straight through, and then on the other side we can drill a hole with a hole saw straight through that part of the wall, except 0.2 inches down. Great in theory. So we cut out the hole on each side, pulled out the little excess insulation that was there, and then tried to shove the pipe through at a downward angle, and it didn’t fit. We’re like, what the heck? And so I finally realized, well, maybe there’s too much tension in there, because we have straight holes instead of angled holes. So we went through and did angled holes on the inside, and an angled hole on the outside, and boom, we got it, and it slid in there pretty well. So that was a good success. Glad we did that.
So then we just kept going, and we put the unit on the wall, and then finally we had the stuff sticking out the wall, and it was there and everything was working great. And now we’re actually ready to do the outside. The platform that we put it on, I will let you find out more about that, and what all we did for that in the YouTube video that I’m going to do at the install, because it’s basically a concrete platform that my dad made. They did a couple specific things that were interesting, but it’s better to show you than be able to try to explain it on a podcast. So definitely look out for that video in the next couple of weeks.
But anyways, so let’s actually get to the main unit itself. The thing is heavy and big. I mean it’s over my waist high, and so my dad and I both picked it up and put it on the concrete platform that we had. And then we went ahead and anchored it in place. And then it came time to actually start connecting up the lines. So what we had to do is we had to push the Freon lines, these are copper lines, against the wall, kind of come down, and we had to be really careful to not kink anything in any place.
And so we had it run down, and then we figured out, Hey, how high do we want it off the ground based on where we were going to have the excess coil. Because since these are pre-charged lines, you have extra coil of line, and that needs to be stored somewhere because you can’t just cut it off, because then you have to go hire a professional to come in and do all the vacuuming stuff.
So anyways, so we actually ended up using a hose reel thing to attach to the wall, and then set that extra coil on. So we had to make sure we had the 90 degree from the hole in the wall over to that to be at the right height. Got that all in place, didn’t do a really great job at that turn because my dad’s going to go back later and install a little casing thing around it. We bought one, it was for a different brand, thought it would work. It ended up not being large enough for the size pipes that we had for this thing.
But we got run over, we did some of the taping on it, the lines that we needed, and then we connected the electric cable that runs from the inside unit out to the outside unit. Then we plugged in the Freon lines from the big things, and they work the exact same from the ones coming from the wall to the ones that go into the main unit. And then we just opened everything up to go inside of the main compressor unit, and we’re off to the races. Had an electrician come in and do the final wiring, and we were good to go.
And then we went to fire it up, and it didn’t work. It’s funny because I turned it on and was talking in the video for this thing, “All right, we’re about ready to turn it on for the very first time.” And I clicked the button, and nothing happened. And my dad just started laughing in the background like, well that was a let down. And he’s like, wait a minute, let me flip this breaker. Flipped that breaker and all of a sudden behind me you hear, beep. It’s like really? Really, you just did that to me? And so hit the button again, it came on and started blowing cold air, and you could see the little louvers opening up to the full on air conditioning out.
And then we just stood in front of the air conditioner for probably the next five minutes, because it was in the nineties most of the day, while we were trying to do this outside. And if you’re on the YouTube video, you can see that I have a little bit of a sunburn on the top of my head.
But anyway, it was a great experience. The actual work that we had to do getting that going, I highly recommend this unit if you want to do it yourself. It is super, super, super simple, as long as you have everything prepared. Which really is going to lead me into the last segment of the podcast, and that is the failure. And the failure of the week is not planning. This is my dad’s unit. And so I was going up to assist him, and we were going to record it along the way, but there was not any prep work done other than making sure we had a three and a half inch hole saw. And it really showed. Because what should’ve been a two, two and a half hour job ended up taking about eight hours.
Some of that was because we had the wrong outside casing for the wire for the extra protection. One of those was last minute decided to go ahead and do cement anchors into the pad. And then another was, didn’t have the right wiring for the electrician to wire up. And then electrician went to wire up, and they didn’t have the right connectors to go into it for eight gauge wire, because we had to use eight gauge wire since we had the really big unit. And just a lot of just little bitty things that if it had been fully planned and we had all of the stuff there already, it would have been a lot faster.
I really think, had everything been laid out properly, I really think this thing could have been installed in about an hour. It’s that simple. But we just ran into a lot of little problems. Plus it was 90 degrees, 95 degrees, and when you’re that hot and muggy and sweaty, you’re just like, ah, you can’t think right. We took a bunch of breaks for drink and hydration, and then we had lunch, and then we had dinner. We had to run to the store three times.
Lack of planning really threw a lot of things, whenever you had a combination of everything. So definitely research it out, plan it out, and you’re going to be a lot better off. And watch the video when it comes out, so if you’re ready to do it, you can avoid some of these same mistakes.
Thank you for your time, I thank you for listening, and we’ll see you next time.