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  1. #1
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    Default condo return air space

    This air handler is above the bathroom ceiling in a 3 year old condo in a historic building.
    Aside from the horrendous lack of access and clearance, there is no return air duct or plenum. The filter side of the unit, on the right, is open to the above-ceiling space, as are ceiling vents in the living space. The space is full of plumbing, wiring, insulation, etc.
    I'm pretty sure this has been discussed before, and I'm pretty sure I've seen it before, but it's been a while.
    I'm recommending installation of a return air duct/plenum, but is this in any way acceptable?
    May be moot, since the ridiculous lack of access may kill the deal anyway. I don't see any solution to that.

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  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Default Re: condo return air space

    It is common to have plenum ceilings in commercial much like you described. We used to have the service contract for HVAC equipment at a couple malls. One mall had all VAV systems with plenum ceilings above the grid tile ceilings.
    Don't think it is allowed in residential though, can't quote a restriction however.
    I did see a set-up similar to this a couple months ago in a new Condo. Under your circumstances I would tell the client...
    - increased energy costs
    - lower comfort levels and air quality
    - inability to control contaminant intake and distribution, potential health hazard
    - since it is a vintage building, it is not unreasonable to assume that there may be funky stuff in that ceiling, whatever funky stuff (asbestos) is up there may get dispersed through the supply vent directly over the new babies crib

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  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Default Re: condo return air space

    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Keller View Post
    It is common to have plenum ceilings in commercial much like you described. We used to have the service contract for HVAC equipment at a couple malls. One mall had all VAV systems with plenum ceilings above the grid tile ceilings.
    Don't think it is allowed in residential though, can't quote a restriction however.
    I did see a set-up similar to this a couple months ago in a new Condo. Under your circumstances I would tell the client...
    - increased energy costs
    - lower comfort levels and air quality
    - inability to control contaminant intake and distribution, potential health hazard
    - since it is a vintage building, it is not unreasonable to assume that there may be funky stuff in that ceiling, whatever funky stuff (asbestos) is up there may get dispersed through the supply vent directly over the new babies crib
    Aside from the energy costs, that's pretty much what I told him, including the bit about asbestos. And it wouldn't be that hard to fix.
    The access/clearance problem is another matter, though.

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
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  4. #4
    cliff kornegay's Avatar
    cliff kornegay Guest

    Default Re: condo return air space

    I see a lot of units installed exactly like the picture you posted. I couldn't see the manufacturer of the unit, but do you think it is an approved installation according the mfg? If not, why not write it up that way?


  5. #5
    David Bell's Avatar
    David Bell Guest

    Default Re: condo return air space

    Looks like an International Comfort Products unit, either a Temp-Star, or Carrier. They all share the same design. The plenum ceiling would have to be approved as such by the city inspector. The manufacturer only specifies that the unit be placed in an approved location.


  6. #6
    Join Date
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    Default Re: condo return air space

    Quote Originally Posted by David Bell View Post
    Looks like an International Comfort Products unit, either a Temp-Star, or Carrier. ....
    How about Bryant? That's what the heat pump is.

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
    www.ArnoldHomeInspections.com

  7. #7
    David Bell's Avatar
    David Bell Guest

    Default Re: condo return air space

    Yup, Bryant is ICP also.


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