Murphy’s Law and HVAC Start-ups


By way of review Murphy’s Law states: 1. “Nothing is as easy as it looks …. 2. Everything takes longer than you expected …. and, 3.  If anything can go wrong — it will …  4. at the worst possible moment!”

Few will question the validity of ol’ Murphy’s Law, being that we are all victims, on a daily basis, of it’s many application to our lives.

But Murphy’s Law ain’t necessarily so — at least as far as doing a proper start-up of any heating or air conditioning equipment is concerned.  Sure, the Law still applies, but a proper start-up — “a stitch in time” — goes a long way to putting off its negative effects.

Think about it …1.  Nothing is as easy as it looks.  Sure, but why procrastinate? A HVAC unit does not have the ability to set CFM, to set manifold pressure, to check sequence of operation by itself, etc. yet contractors think all they have to do is set the unit, throw the switch, and they are done. Then, if there is a problem, they have to come back and do it then.  Wouldn’t it have been easier to do the start-up at the beginning than to have to come back? So, whatever the problem, it won’t look any easier a week or month from now so why not do it while you’re there?

2. Everything takes longer than you expected.  Sometimes true, as far as service work is concerned but NOT true as far as crossing your fingers and expecting the unit to start itself. Failure and breakdown will likely happen much sooner that you expected and will probably take twice as long to fix it since now you have to make a second trip to the site (and maybe a third if you need a part). So, if you don’t do a proper start-up … Murphy’s Law # 2 will befinitely be true.

And, 3. If anything can go wrong — it will!  Yes, of course, especially if the recommended start-up procedures are ignored and the start-up check list isn’t used. There are lots of parts and pieces in a HVAC unit.  That’s a lot of things that can go wrong. A proper start-up can postpone the “inevitable”, perhaps for the useful life of the unit itself.

4. At the worst possible moment. Granted, there is no such thing as a good moment for the equipment to break down, but, they still have not made the “worst possible moment” that wouldn’t still be worse with the realization that it didn’t have to happen at all if a proper start-up was performed. Of Course, it is going to breakdown when the weather is either the hottest or coldest and you’re “swamped” with calls and it could have been prevented with a proper start-up.

Troubles may come, Mr Murphy, but it doesn’t have to be today… or tomorrow… or tomorrow …

A proper start-up is the answer. Even if Murphy’s Laws happen, you are sure that the problem can be “simpler” due the fact that you did a proper start-up, and that’s something Murphy didn’t think of.  We may not be able to eliminate Murphy’s Law, but we can make the effects of it a lot easier to live with if we all take the time to do a proper start-up.

Maybe we should write a new Murphy’s Law for NOT doing a proper start-up:  If you don’t do a proper start-up — something in the unit is going to collapse, explode, corrode, or disappear!  or  A proper start-up is inverserly proportional to the amount of recalls and warranty service you will have on a unit!  The choice is yours ;>)

If you need copies of the start-up sheets for any equipment let your local service manager know and we can get you copies for your use.

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About yorkcentraltechtalk

I have been in the HVAC industry most of my life. I worked 25 years for contractors on anything from residential to large commercial boilers and power burners. For the past 23+ years I had been employed by York International UPG Division ( a division of Johnson Controls) as a Technical support/Service Manager but I am now retired. One of my goals has always been to "educate" dealers and contractors. The reason for starting this blog was to share some knowledge, thoughts, ideas, etc with anyone who takes the time to read it. The contents of this blog are my own opinions, thoughts, experiences and should not be construed as those of Johnson Controls York UPG in any way. I hope you find this a help. I always welcome comments and suggestions for postings and will do my best to address any thoughts, questions, or topics you may want to hear about. Thanks for taking the time to read my postings! Mike Bishop
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