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#215818 07/22/15 08:39 AM
Joined: Sep 2002
Posts: 131
T
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I was wondering your thoughts on this issue. Recently I have noticed that HVAC contractors have been mounting mini split compressor units 12 feet off the ground attached to the house. The disconnect is mounted right next to the unit at the same height. So, I am wondering what you guys think about 440.14 and do you think this meets the requirement of being readily accessible to the unit.


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Joined: Apr 2002
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Are these locations subject to flood elevations??

ie: BFE which is base flood elevation, which dictates the lowest height for electrical (and mechanical) equipment.

Local municipal ordinances also may require 'BFE+x feet"

BFE is based on FEMA flood maps. This is all aftermath of the major area flooding from hurricane Sandy in this area, and other storms in other areas



John
Joined: Sep 2002
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No it is not.

Joined: Jul 2004
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G
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How do they service the unit? The disconnect should be accessible to the tech while he is working on the unit.


Greg Fretwell
Joined: Sep 2002
Posts: 131
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I agree but 440.14 says it needs to be readily accessible from the unit. Readily accessible does not allow climbing on portable ladders. Also what if the tech is on the ladder working on the opposite side of the unit that the disconnect is on? Even if you use the argument that the disco is readily accessible from the unit if the ladder is placed by it you can't make the argument that it is with the ladder in the other side.

Joined: Jan 2005
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Cat Servant
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Thanks for the elaboration; I was thinking BFE was a reference to the rural areas near Cairo, Illinois laugh

I see no problem with mounting a disconnect adjacent to the equipment it serves. It needs to be accessible while the unit is being worked on.

I'll bet this mounting is an attempt to make the unit less vulnerable to thieves. They may have also been trying to reduce line length, which has a major effect on the efficiency (SEER) rating of the system.

I'd also be more concerned with whatever is UNDER the unit. "Accessible" becomes moot if the area itself is blocked. (There's a reason I keep pruning shears on the truck).

Joined: Apr 2002
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OK, let's see if I can clear this up....

Working access would be from a ladder in some cases; the platform must provide working space on three sides of the CU.

Note that this is mandatory in flood plain areas as designated by FEMA's latest flood maps. FEMA regs are mandated by the local flood plain manager. FEMA regs are made mandatory by the NJ DCA, the State authority.

Based on that, there are CUs that are 12' above dirt, with a disco next to the unit.

The above applies to NJ areas that are in flood zones, and is the result of the extensive flood damage from Sandy, which also affected parts of NY metro area,

While I was the AHJ in a town that was decimated by Sandy, the BFE heights/zones were in a state of flux from FEMA. Replace a flood damaged service, the meter must be a BFE+2' (Twp Ord was the "+2') which put the POCO meter in some cases 10-12' above dirt. The POCO bitched, FEMA won. After many months of this, the POCO, FEMA, and DCA agreed that the meter must be at 5' above grade, BUT everything else must be at BFE+2'. This means, no meter/mains; no meter stacks. An 'around this, with local zoning, planning approvals would be to install a 'deck' or porch with a staircase and install the meter/main, meter stack there with compliant working clearances.

BTW, 'house raising' seems to be a tremendous grouth business here along the Jersey coast!!

Did I like enforcing the above, NO; but I had to. Many services were done twice; a few more than twice.

Again, I will say...this is mandatory in any area designated by FEMA as a flood zone. I do not know if tsolanto's area of Long Island, NY is a FEMA zone.


John
Joined: Apr 2002
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BTW, after Sandy, there was a lot of FEMA books, CDs/DVDs regarding flood areas, flood zones, heights, construction methods, etc. Problem was, finding time to read/view it.

Sandy decimated a large swath of Jersey/NY areas, and to this day, there is a LOT that require attention, help, reconstruction, etc.


John
Joined: Sep 2002
Posts: 131
T
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Hotline, thanks for the input. What I am seeing is definitely not is a flood zone... I am an electrical inspector for NYC and the work in question is being done all over Queens and Brooklyn. The thing that concerns me is that the definition of readily accessible does not allow portable ladders, but 440.14 seems to require the disconnect readily accessible from the unit. So it requires the disconnect up by it but IMO I can't see how it is readily accessible if you climb a ladder to get to it. 404.8 gives allowance for a disconnect to be mounted above 6 foot 7 inches but 404.8 is not referenced in 440.14 or anywhere else in 440 so IMO you can't use it. I wonder if this is something relatively new and should be cleared up in future editions of the NEC.

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G
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I have seen a lot of discussion about this with piling houses at the beach but I am not sure if I ever heard a good answer. A few suggestions were decks around the unit, accessible from the dwelling or some kind of permanent stairs/ladders. We get the same kind of questions about air handlers swinging from strut in the ceiling of garages. The question about working space also comes up with air handlers in closets.

The best I can tell, inspectors just hold their nose and approve most of these things if another answer is not forthcoming.

Years ago they let them put the condensers at grade, even on a piling house but FEMA and the insurance companies stopped it. They even have to put water heaters at FF level in garages. That means they are building a raised platform and again the disco may not be <6'6. If it is near the steps, you can make it work.


Greg Fretwell
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