Homeowners have some work to do before getting a ductless heating and A/C units installed in their home. Mike Cappuccio, owner of N.E.T.R., Inc., talks about how to get ready for a ductless HVAC installation, what to expect, and more. Listen or read more to find out about the ductless heating and A/C installation process.
John Maher: Hey, I’m John Maher. I’m here today with Mike Cappuccio, owner of N.E.T.R., Inc., a heating and cooling company in Massachusetts with a focus on Mitsubishi ductless heating and cooling products. Today, we are talking about ductless heating and A/C installation. Welcome, Mike.
Mike Cappucio: Good morning, John.
Mike: It all depends really on what type of home you live in, John. As crazy as this sounds, it’s where do you live, too because downtown Boston, sometimes installations take longer to do just because of the parking situation. It’s like, “Where are we going to park? How we are going to unload equipment?” You live in a brownstone, you live on the fifth floor. We’re doing a fifth-floor installation.
Well, that takes time as far as getting condensers upstairs, getting things on the roof, but the typical norm is one indoor unit, one outdoor unit takes a day. A harder installation, there might be two guys on that job for one day. An easier installation might be one guy on that job for one day for one indoor, one outdoor. When we get into the bigger systems, a two zone system, each indoor unit typically takes about eight hours to install depending on the ease of installation.
John: With one person.
Mike: With one person, yes. If it’s a little bit harder of an installation, we’d probably send two guys on that job for one day to get that done. If that’s a little bit of a tougher two zone, there might be three guys on that job for one day, but the norm is typically one day with two guys to do two zones. If you are looking at a four zones, there might be two guys there for two days.
There could be a guy coming back the third day to do something, but most times it’s done in one to two days is the norm on your normal typical wood type construction home. You get into some of these more complex, older Victorians with seven, eight zones. I mean sometimes those are three, four-day long projects depending on how much manpower we put on that job.
Ductless Installations: What to Expect
John: What are the steps involved in a ductless installation? Can a homeowner do anything to help speed that up, or to prepare for you to come and do the installation?
Mike: Yes, the normal way that we do things is we’re going to come to your house around 7:00, 7:30 in the morning, no later than 7:30. We’re typically sitting outside your home at 7:00. We’re going to come in, first thing we’re going to do is we’re going to protect the home, protect the floors, roll out the carpets, get everything covered to where we’re going to be working, get our ladders in. Typically, the first day is your inside work.
What I mean by your inside work is we’re going to come in, and hang indoor units on the inside of the home. There is a metal plate that’s going to need to be mounted on the wall. We’re going to discuss with you, “Does this look good? This is where we’re going to put this, and then I’m going to drill the holes to the outside.” Hang the indoor units, do the wiring, get everything to the outside of the home at that point.
Then we’re going to go do the outside work. We typically like to get all our indoor work done in the morning of — even if we’re doing a three-zone or a four-zone, usually day one is let’s get everything hung on the inside of the home, so we can get to the outside of the home, so we’re not disrupting the homeowner’s life for four days. We’re going to come back in on the third or fourth day and do the startup, and do some of the checkups.
We want to get to the outside because that’s where the bulk of the work is going to be — being done on the outside of the home at that point, or in the basement, or wherever else we’re working at that point.
John: You’re trying to minimize the disruption to the —
Mike: Yes, we want to make a mess one time, do our cleanups, do a vacuum, get everything vacuumed up, get all those tarps up off the floors, and go outside day two, or at the end of day one.
How a Homeowner Can Help HVAC Installers
John: Can a homeowner do anything to help speed up the process?
Mike: Absolutely, we ask them this a lot. We go into a lot of homes and there’s obstructions. What do I mean by obstructions? We’re going to hang a unit on the wall, and there could be a china cabinet in front of that and it has all the antique china and stuff like that. That stuff needs to be removed. The cabinet needs to be removed from where we are. We really typically don’t want to touch the furniture, and stuff but we will ask you, “Hey, this is going to need to be moved before the day of installation.”
If we get to the house and it’s not moved the day of installation, that really slows us down the day of installation, and we’re going to put that in writing to you. “This stuff needs to be removed before we come out.” A lot of times we’re running pipes back into a basement from the indoor unit. We’re coming down the side of the house, and we’re bringing things back in, bringing pipes back into a basement to put a branch box in your basement, and you’ve got 40 years of storage in your basement.
We need clean, clear access to get to hang pipes, run pipes, run electrical, and run wires. We’re going to discuss that. “This is where we’re going to be bringing pipes into a basement, and we need clean, clear access to get to this, so that means that stuff needs to be moved so we can get to that stuff.” Also, clean, clear access to the electrical panel, to how we’re going to run our electrical lines. Sometimes I go into people’s houses, I can’t even see the electrical panel.
They have got to move all these boxes and everything before we can get into it.
John: Maybe it’s in a closet or something kind of closed off.
Mike: Yes, it’s in a closet, it’s all full of stuff. The other thing too is sometimes we’re hanging units over a closet, on top of a closet, and to the left of a closet. We’ve got to bring piping into a closet, then possibly down to the next floor, or up into an attic. Well, we’re going to definitely ask you the day of installation . . . those clothes need to be removed from that closet. I don’t want to get plaster dust all over your shoes.
And the comfort consultant is going to discuss that with the homeowner at the time they are out there. There is going to be notes, “Hey, clothes need to be removed from closets. Basement needs to be cleaned out.” Things like this need to be done before the day of installation.
John: You’ve got a checklist that you give the homeowner, and it says that this is what needs to happen?
Mike: Yes, there’s a little checklist, and 90% of installations are going to be reviewed by our installation manager before we come out to do the job. He’s going to walk that job with the homeowner after the comfort consultant has already sold the job, and gone over the job with you. Now, he’s got to go out there and inspect the job and say, “Okay, this is how long it’s going to take to do. This is what’s going to need to be moved,” and he’s there the first day of installation.
Two is telling them– he’s explaining to the crew, “This is what is got to get done. I’ve asked the homeowner to move these things. There’s been photographs taken of what needs to be moved.” It’s a lot of moving, then we get to the outside of the home. Sometimes it’s okay. “This is where the condenser is going to go,” and the homeowner will say, “Well, we can remove that shrub. We can put it there or we can put it here, we can put it there. I’ll have the landscaper remove the shrub, or I’ll take those flowers out.”
When we get there and it’s not done, again, it delays our time. Those are some of the things that they need to do. The other thing we don’t have a lot of control over is the weather. Sometimes in the winter time, you get extremely cold days. You could get snow, rain. We don’t have pouring rain, we will work in the rain, and misty days, and things like that, and light snow and stuff.
If it’s a blizzard, that’s going to delay things, too. We don’t have control over the weather and stuff like that.
HVAC Winter Installations
John: You do installation in the winter though?
Mike: Oh, yes. We’ve had some bad winters up here, but we got to keep things moving every day. We have a three foot wide snow thrower that we’ll bring out to the house the morning of, our driver will bring it out. We’ll clear a path through the yard with the snow thrower. Clean all the snow out of there, and we’ve got bullet kerosene heaters that we’ll plug in, and melt the whole area of the snow where we are at. We’ll loosen up the ground.
Yes, we do installations in the winter time every single day. They’re not fun. They are definitely not fun, but we do them.
John: How does that affect the inside of the home when you’re obviously — sometimes you have to draw some hole through from the inside of the house to the outside, and in the winter —
Mike: — That would be sealed. That would be sealed before —
John: It will be sealed up really quick.
Mike: It will be sealed up real quick before we go home that night, or an hour after that’s done, they will be all Permagum sealed in those holes, and those will be all sealed up.
John: Like you said, you’re generally trying to get all of the indoor units all mounted in one day anyway, so you’re not leaving holes in the house?
Mike: No, we’d never leave holes in your house overnight or anything like that. Those holes get drilled, the units get put in, they get sealed up, and you go outside within, realistically, within an hour or two, the holes are all sealed up at that point.
John: All right. That’s really good information, Mike. Thanks again for speaking with me.
Mike: Great. Thanks, John.