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  1. #1
    mathew stouffer's Avatar
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    Default Plumbing and electrical lines penetrating return air

    Does the IRC specifically address plumbing and electrical penetrations into stud wall cavity or joist space plenum returns.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Plumbing and electrical lines penetrating return air

    Talk about "Dumb and Dumber", and "Poor Planning" ... er ... "NO Planning".

    From the 2006 IRC.
    - Regarding the electrical:
    - - E3804.7 Air handling—stud cavity and joist spaces. Where wiring methods having a nonmetallic covering pass through stud cavities and joist spaces used for air handling, such wiring shall pass through such spaces perpendicular to the long dimension of the spaces.

    Those penetrations are also not sealed and are drawing in undesirable air (possibly contaminated air) into the return air system.


    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  3. #3
    David Stenske's Avatar
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    Default Re: Plumbing and electrical lines penetrating return air

    I know according to the NEC u csny run electrical wires in the ductwork unless its in conduit.


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    Default Re: Plumbing and electrical lines penetrating return air

    I know you are not allowed to have plumbing and other items in the return air plenum, such as gas lines, etc., but am having a mental fart in being able to find the code on it in the IRC. That is why I only posted the electrical code in the IRC.

    Now, there are reference outside the IRC, but they would not be applicable as they would not specifically apply to a building which is under the IRC.

    Think about the common sense aspect (lack thereof) of having plumbing pipe (and potentially sewer gas) in the return air duct.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Plumbing and electrical lines penetrating return air

    Jerry, you may be thinking of M1601.4 Under floor plenums although I'm not sure this would apply here since this appears to be limited to supply plenums and I did not take the time to really understand the situation in the OP.

    Jim Luttrall
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    Default Re: Plumbing and electrical lines penetrating return air

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Luttrall View Post
    Jerry, you may be thinking of M1601.4 Under floor plenums although I'm not sure this would apply here since this appears to be limited to supply plenums and I did not take the time to really understand the situation in the OP.

    Jim,

    That was the one in the IRC as the same requirements would need to be applied to return air plenums even though not specifically stated as such.

    In the IMC the plenum section covers all plenums the same, which makes sense, and would make sense to apply that IRC supply plenum section to returns air plenums.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  7. #7
    mathew stouffer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Plumbing and electrical lines penetrating return air

    So I was looking at the IRC regarding supply, but I am still unclear if that applies the returns. Regarding plumbing penetrations.


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    Default Re: Plumbing and electrical lines penetrating return air

    Quote Originally Posted by mathew stouffer View Post
    So I was looking at the IRC regarding supply, but I am still unclear if that applies the returns. Regarding plumbing penetrations.

    It should.

    And in the IMC it does.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  9. #9
    mathew stouffer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Plumbing and electrical lines penetrating return air

    But the IMC doesn't apply to residential and the builder is in my face for the inspection. I told him the same you said it's common sense. But in the report I mentioned code and now everyone wants to know my reference. So the IRC doesn't prohibit it?


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    Default Re: Plumbing and electrical lines penetrating return air

    Quote Originally Posted by mathew stouffer View Post
    But the IMC doesn't apply to residential and the builder is in my face for the inspection. I told him the same you said it's common sense. But in the report I mentioned code and now everyone wants to know my reference. So the IRC doesn't prohibit it?
    That is where you take control and explain it to your client, do THEY want sewer gas (potentially) and other things in their home?

    Have THEM call the city building department and talk to the inspectors. You do that also.

    THEY are the ones who ultimately make the decisions.

    The code is minimum and does not cover all things, not even all common sense things.

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  11. #11
    mathew stouffer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Plumbing and electrical lines penetrating return air

    That was my first move. I am impressed with my question, I stumped you for a min One more thing. The electrical and pass through the return as long as it's perpendicular to the vent.


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    Default Re: Plumbing and electrical lines penetrating return air

    Quote Originally Posted by mathew stouffer View Post
    I stumped you for a min
    Yep, you did.

    The electrical and pass through the return as long as it's perpendicular to the vent.
    I won't say that , but that is what the code says if it is non-metallic sheathed cable.

    I think it is a bad idea, but, the code says it is okay if yada, yada, yada.

    Of course, though, it needs to be sealed, and, do you really know it is "passing *through* perpendicular to the long dimension"?

    Or does it enter there, run the long dimension a few inches or even a few feet, before passing through - that would not be allowed.

    Of course, it has to be sealed ... oh, wait, I already said that didn't I?

    Looks like PEX water line going in through the bottom with the DWV piping.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  13. #13
    Michael Greenwalt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Plumbing and electrical lines penetrating return air

    Have to go back and look but I remember the code allows this if wood, does not if metal. Probably doesn't help without the reference number, but it's there.


  14. #14
    Tim Saunders's Avatar
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    Default Re: Plumbing and electrical lines penetrating return air

    Quote Originally Posted by mathew stouffer View Post
    But the IMC doesn't apply to residential and the builder is in my face for the inspection. I told him the same you said it's common sense. But in the report I mentioned code and now everyone wants to know my reference. So the IRC doesn't prohibit it?
    Since I am not a C-O-D-E inspector, I do not mention the word.
    I will how ever reference construction standards, and make recommendations, and in this case I would have recommended that all penetrations be sealed in a approved manner, then I would have recommended that this condition be inspected by a licensed HVAC contractor as well as a Licensed Electrical contractor.

    Good Luck

    Tim


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    Default Re: Plumbing and electrical lines penetrating return air

    I cite Code plenty but in these situations I don't even bother. Does not matter what the Code says. It's dumb, bad practice, unsafe however you want to put it. If explained properly to the client, they won't care what the Code is either. They won't want to live with it.
    Air contamination, air infiltration, additional service work cost.
    It looks like they are using two joist cavities side by side for return chases. Do both of those open up to one big floor grille in say the living or dining room. You can nail the builder on poor return air placement. Poor return air = higher energy costs.

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    Default Re: Plumbing and electrical lines penetrating return air

    Markus,

    I think we are on the same page.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Talk about "Dumb and Dumber", and "Poor Planning" ... er ... "NO Planning".
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Think about the common sense aspect (lack thereof) of having plumbing pipe (and potentially sewer gas) in the return air duct.
    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Keller View Post
    Does not matter what the Code says. It's dumb, bad practice, unsafe however you want to put it. If explained properly to the client, they won't care what the Code is either. They won't want to live with it.


    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  17. #17
    mathew stouffer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Plumbing and electrical lines penetrating return air

    The entire HVAC install was fubar. Jerry if you need to know that acronym email me.

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  18. #18
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    Default Re: Plumbing and electrical lines penetrating return air

    Quote Originally Posted by mathew stouffer View Post
    fubar
    Fskrewed Up Beyond All Repair

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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