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  1. #1

    Question Why would this be done this way?

    I ran across this service disconnect installation at a new house that had two heat pumps installed. These are located behind the outside units. Why is there two disconnect boxes for each unit? I've never seen this before.

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  2. #2
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: Why would this be done this way?

    Did you open them up and if so what was inside. It seems like the electrician left the wires coming out for the disconnects and then when the brickies did there thing they ran the wires out where they lay. They may not have been paired off.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Why would this be done this way?

    I agree with Ted, the electrician was making the best of a screwed-up rough-in.
    Did you look inside the disconnects?

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  4. #4

    Default Re: Why would this be done this way?

    I did indeed open the boxes. They each had a breaker installed in the "on" position. The temperature was in the low 40's that day so I only tried to operate the Heat Pump and Emergency Heat. The outside units would not come on during heat pump operation. I agree that your theory is probably correct. The electrician was likely making the best of (in his own mind) a bad situation. I appreciate the input. I have seen a lot of interesting things, but this I had never seen before.


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Why would this be done this way?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rod Figueroa View Post
    These are located behind the outside units.
    " ... located BEHIND ... "

    First, if those were located "behind" the outside units, that is incorrect.

    My first thought (depending on what I actually saw out there) would be that the original disconnects "were behind" the condenser units, and the new disconnects are either between or to one side of the disconnects. That's the only reason I can think of why they would add on and relocate the disconnects.

    My question, then, becomes: Okay, where is the wiring feeding the condenser units? Those are just wired one disconnect to another disconnect, but not to the condenser units?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Why would this be done this way?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    My question, then, becomes: Okay, where is the wiring feeding the condenser units? Those are just wired one disconnect to another disconnect, but not to the condenser units?
    Typical looking install here on brick veneer (which is virtually all new construction) the line and load exit the box to the rear with the wire feeding the condensing unit exiting the wall nearer the ground.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Why would this be done this way?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Luttrall View Post
    the line and load exit the box to the rear with the wire feeding the condensing unit exiting the wall nearer the ground.
    I considered that, and which is why I said:

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    (depending on what I actually saw out there)
    The photo did not show enough of the installation to assess that.

    However, ... does that mean the line and load both go through the wall? Or, does that mean the line goes through the wall into the back of the disconnect, and the load goes out the back of the disconnect, down inside the air space between the veneer and the wall, and then back out through the brick veneer?

    That second method would be my concern, and it would also be a problem.

    Now, back to my other supposition: that of the disconnects were relocated to allow them to not be behind the condenser units?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  8. #8
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: Why would this be done this way?

    They are all to close together to have been moved from behind the units to a new location.

    Jim is right about the general install around here. Most of the time all you see is the disconnect box. The wire comes in the back and then out the back into the cavity behind the brick and out the bottom of the wall to the AC units or back out the hole for the copper lines and to the units.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Why would this be done this way?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Menelly View Post
    They are all to close together to have been moved from behind the units to a new location.
    Ted,

    Nope, I've seen condenser units spaced and located such that a move like that shown in the photo solved the problem.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  10. #10

    Default Re: Why would this be done this way?

    I found two more pictures that show a bit more. The wiring comes out of wall at bottom to feed condensing units (typical around here). Looking at the pictures again, it may be that one each of the disconnects now fall into the area between the condensing units. I wonder why the city inspector wouldn't make them remove the original boxes so as to not confuse any technician (or inspector). Most city inspectors don't seem to enforce the issue about having the service disconnect box behind the unit (in the DFW area).

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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Why would this be done this way?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rod Figueroa View Post
    Looking at the pictures again, it may be that one each of the disconnects now fall into the area between the condensing units.
    Presuming that the left two disconnects are the "new" disconnects, the right disconnects are behind the right condenser unit.

    Were the condensing units at least 30" apart from each other? That is the minimum width of the required working space in front of those disconnects (all four of them).

    30" wide by 36" in front of

    I wonder why the city inspector wouldn't make them remove the original boxes so as to not confuse any technician (or inspector).
    Typically, the "older two" would have been replaced with an exterior junction box with a weather proof cover, that would not required the working space. Leaving the two original disconnects does - that really complicates matters now.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  12. #12
    Shannon Guinn's Avatar
    Shannon Guinn Guest

    Default Re: Why would this be done this way?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    " ... located BEHIND ... "

    First, if those were located "behind" the outside units, that is incorrect.

    My first thought (depending on what I actually saw out there) would be that the original disconnects "were behind" the condenser units, and the new disconnects are either between or to one side of the disconnects. That's the only reason I can think of why they would add on and relocate the disconnects.

    My question, then, becomes: Okay, where is the wiring feeding the condenser units? Those are just wired one disconnect to another disconnect, but not to the condenser units?

    That was my first thought Jerry. Some HVAC guys here will set their units directly in front of disconnects, then I come along and spoil all their fun. It never ceases to amaze me that each time I see something like this I will always get the question from either the GC, EC, or HVAC guys "Well, how can we fix that"? or my personal favorite "Well the old inspector never said anything about stuff like that, that's the way we've always done it"!


  13. #13
    Shannon Guinn's Avatar
    Shannon Guinn Guest

    Default Re: Why would this be done this way?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Presuming that the left two disconnects are the "new" disconnects, the right disconnects are behind the right condenser unit.

    Were the condensing units at least 30" apart from each other? That is the minimum width of the required working space in front of those disconnects (all four of them).

    30" wide by 36" in front of



    Typically, the "older two" would have been replaced with an exterior junction box with a weather proof cover, that would not required the working space. Leaving the two original disconnects does - that really complicates matters now.


    Hey Jerry, I was serious when I said if you ever wanted a job in the mountains. We have plenty of people from Florida that live here now. I can see it all now, you retire, come work here or at least I could get you on the appeals board. I say all this because it's just so refreshing sometimes to see that there are other people on this planet that share the same thoughts on subjects that I hold dear.


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Why would this be done this way?

    Quote Originally Posted by Shannon Guinn View Post
    Hey Jerry, I was serious when I said if you ever wanted a job in the mountains.
    .

    Shannon,

    How far are you from Franklin, NC or Maggie Valley, NC?

    What do they pay for the BoRA? How often do they meet?



    You are a 9 hour drive from here, but maybe I could buy a house up there like my wife and I almost did 3-1/2 years ago (in Maggie Valley).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  15. #15
    Shannon Guinn's Avatar
    Shannon Guinn Guest

    Default Re: Why would this be done this way?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    .

    Shannon,

    How far are you from Franklin, NC or Maggie Valley, NC?

    What do they pay for the BoRA? How often do they meet?



    You are a 9 hour drive from here, but maybe I could buy a house up there like my wife and I almost did 3-1/2 years ago (in Maggie Valley).

    Jerry, we're probably 1hr away from Maggie Valley (give or take). Actually, the way Blue Ridge is situated, I could leave my office head north into Tennessee, make a right into N.Carolina and hang another right and be back into GA within half an hour. Right at the cusp of the tri-state area.


  16. #16

    Default Re: Why would this be done this way?

    Hey Guys,

    I wanted to follow up on the original post. I talked to the builder and was told that the Chief Building Inspector in this municipality is a master electrician and that having the disconnects directly behind the condensing units is one of his pet peeves. While the solution (moving them over to the space between the units) may not meet code, it is good enough for the Chief. Good call Peck, you were right on.


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