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  1. #1
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    Default Readily Accessable Disconnect?

    As I understand it, the A/C service disconnect is supposed to be readily accessible, and within sight of the condensing unit. It's not real obvious in this photo, but the sided back porch at the rear of the brick masonry house is offset in a couple of feet, so although the disconnect can be viewed from the A/C unit, you have to lean back a ways to spot it.

    A bigger concern is the fence. There is no gate on this side, and you can't reach the disconnect by leaning over the fence. (I wouldn't want to ground myself like that to try it anyway.) You have to go around the house to get to it. It's my opinion that it doesn't fit the description of being readily accessible. It there anything I'm missing, or don't have right? Thanks a lot for your help with this.

    Mike

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Readily Accessable Disconnect?

    The fence is restricting it from being "readily accessible" and the electrical cable is not strapped properly either.

    rick


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Readily Accessable Disconnect?

    Good point on the electrical cable support. Thanks Rick!


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    Default Re: Readily Accessible Disconnect?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Chambers View Post
    As I understand it, the A/C service disconnect is supposed to be readily accessible, and within sight of the condensing unit. It's not real obvious in this photo, but the sided back porch at the rear of the brick masonry house is offset in a couple of feet, so although the disconnect can be viewed from the A/C unit, you have to lean back a ways to spot it.

    A bigger concern is the fence. There is no gate on this side, and you can't reach the disconnect by leaning over the fence. (I wouldn't want to ground myself like that to try it anyway.) You have to go around the house to get to it. It's my opinion that it doesn't fit the description of being readily accessible. It there anything I'm missing,
    Mike,

    You have it right. That disconnect would need to be on the a/c condenser unit side of the fence, straight-line sight, and within 50 feet.

    The a/c condenser pad should also be 3" above grade. And in most areas the condenser unit should be anchored down to the pad.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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  5. #5
    David Bell's Avatar
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    Default Re: Readily Accessable Disconnect?

    The condensor is also too close to the house and appears to be blocking the access to the phone box.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Readily Accessable Disconnect?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck
    The a/c condenser pad should also be 3" above grade. And in most areas the condenser unit should be anchored down to the pad.
    Jerry,

    Most condensers in our area are just on prefab, composite pads that are not 3 inches high and are never anchored down. What codes are you referencing for these two requirements?

    Ken Amelin
    Cape Cod's Best Inspection Services
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    Default Re: Readily Accessable Disconnect?

    M.C.:

    Is the disconnect one which can be locked in the open (off) position?

    Is there a "convienence"/service receptacle outdoors in the vicinity on the condensor "side" of the fence, only one on the other side of the fence (or is it within the disconnect "box" - thereby making use of it unsafe with the window A/C above it), or non-existant?

    The wiring method path is inappropriate. The cable is draped across the opening for the window well and across the upper sash (or is that a glassblock-in-frame arrangement?).

    Furthermore the wiring method employed to the condensor is not sufficiently "protected from damage", either crushed/stepped on, snagged or cut/pulled/damaged by landscaping equipment, a foot, etc. It appears in some areas to be in ground/earth contact doubt subject to burial and requires wet-location wiring method as is in contact with grade and foundation, despite if present overhanging eave.

    I would be interested to know the length of the wiring (not just the horizontal distance) as I suspect there would be additional questionable issues regarding distance powering the remote structure (condensor), grounding/bonding. Looks to be more than 25 feet.

    Back to the picture, the location of the disconnect is immediately underneath an open first floor window (which is presently filled with a window type airconditoner- and smack dab where I'd expect condensate from same to be dripping) An area where to "use" the disconnect, i.e. top open and shut on or off would expose the interior and the user to a hazard, i.e. condensate/dripping water, should that window unit be or have been in operation, I would further wonder if that window a/c is an older one powered via a 250V receptacle (and curious if a 2-wire+gnd - that is to say: no grounded conductor or "neutral") or 3-wire+ground wiring and cord set version or a 125V for that window airconditioner set above the outdoor condensor disconnect. The disconnect appears to be installed on aluminum or other siding upon a closed in formerly open/screened porch or an older home addition which apparently wasn't "tied into" the rest of the home's HVAC systems - consider possibilities of both: dedicated space - the window airconditioner above the disconnect appears to encorach/within the dedicated space for the electrical equipment/remote panel/cabinet/disconnect (height/headroom); and the protrusion of the disconnect may interfere with egress from that window which may be presently inappropriately "obstructed" by the presence of the window air conditioner.

    Similarly, the wiring method under the window immediately to the right of the split condensor unit - similarly a hazard should the first floor window be an egress as well. The window well should have a supporting cover or protection/platform for egress also.

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 03-09-2011 at 03:47 PM.

  8. #8
    James Duffin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Readily Accessable Disconnect?

    Accessible, Readily (Readily Accessible).
    Capable of being reached quickly for operation, renewal, or inspections without requiring those to whom ready access is requisite to climb over or remove obstacles or to resort to portable ladders, and so forth.



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    Default Re: Readily Accessible Disconnect?

    Quote Originally Posted by H.G. Watson, Sr. View Post
    Is the disconnect one which can be locked in the open (off) position?
    Having that ability does not matter, the disconnect still needs to be as stated previously.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Readily Accessible Disconnect?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Amelin View Post
    Most condensers in our area are just on prefab, composite pads that are not 3 inches high and are never anchored down. What codes are you referencing for these two requirements?
    Ken,

    From the IRC: (bold and underlining are mine)
    - First the anchoring aspect:
    - - M1307.2 Anchorage of appliances. Appliances designed to be fixed in position shall be fastened or anchored in an approved manner. In Seismic Design Categories D1 and D2, water heaters shall be anchored or strapped to resist horizontal displacement caused by earthquake motion. Strapping shall be at points within the upper one-third and lower one-third of the appliance’s vertical dimensions. At the lower point, the strapping shall maintain a minimum distance of 4 inches (102 mm) above the controls.
    - - - (Jerry's note: That applies to anchor condenser units and all other appliances addressed under the mechanical section of the IRC.)

    - Second the 3" pad":
    - - M1305.1.4.1 Ground clearance. Appliances supported from the ground shall be level and firmly supported on a concrete slab or other approved material extending above the adjoining ground. Appliances suspended from the floor shall have a clearance of not less than 6 inches (152 mm) from the ground.
    - - M1401.4 Exterior installations. Equipment installed outdoors shall be listed and labeled for outdoor installation. Supports and foundations shall prevent excessive vibration, settlement or movement of the equipment. Supports and foundations shall be level and conform to the manufacturer’s installation instructions.
    - - M1403.2 Foundations and supports. Supports and foundations for the outdoor unit of a heat pump shall be raised at least 3 inches (76 mm) above the ground to permit free drainage of defrost water, and shall conform to the manufacturer’s installation instructions.
    - - - (Jerry's note: The manufacturer's installation instructions will specify a 3" high pad, a curb, an elevated support stand, or some other means on which to anchor the condenser unit down; the most restrictive applies when more than one code section applies, which means that 1307.2 will always apply ... unless the manufacturer specifically requires something more restrictive, as does 1305.1.4.1.)


    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Readily Accessable Disconnect?

    All interesting citations, but do not support your "should" Jerry Peck as this is NOT a Heat Pump, according to the OP.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    - - M1403.2 Foundations and supports. Supports and foundations for the outdoor unit of a heat pump shall be raised at least 3 inches (76 mm) above the ground to permit free drainage of defrost water, and shall conform to the manufacturer’s installation instructions.
    The OP indicated this was an AC condensor unit NOT a Heat Pump. Therefore there is NO requirement for it to be upon a pad with 3" clearance to provide for the drainage that a Heat Pump might require in defrost mode.

    AC condensors do not operate in cooler ambient temperatures, and therefore do not regularly operate in defrost mode nor have condensate drainage.

    OP indicated AC not Heat Pump, and is in St. Louis, MO area according to profile.

    No requirement to have the unit elevated any higher above the pad then the manufacturer has indicated and provided for by its design and instructions.

    Since not in a hurricane zone, nor is the seismic zone IIRC so indicated for the area I recall no requirement to have the preform pad, concrete or otherwise be footed, or that the unit itself be bolted, clamped or secured to same. It is neither supported or attached to the primary structure, it is an accessory structure, remote, and installed at or near grade, not upon an elevation or rooftop, for example, and is not installed within the structure, nor is it installed upon wood or a surface in which vibration would be detrimental, neither is the pictured a manufactured home.

    It would not be uncommon for a water heater to be set in place upon a cement slab indoors in the region either, hard piped and no straping.

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 03-09-2011 at 06:43 PM.

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    Default Re: Readily Accessible Disconnect?

    Quote Originally Posted by H.G. Watson, Sr. View Post
    All interesting citations, but do not support your "should" Jerry Peck as this is NOT a Heat Pump, according to the OP.

    The OP indicated this was an AC condensor unit NOT a Heat Pump. Therefore there is NO requirement for it to be upon a pad with 3" clearance to provide for the drainage that a Heat Pump might require in defrost mode.

    AC condensors do not operate in cooler ambient temperatures, and therefore do not regularly operate in defrost mode nor have condensate drainage.

    OP indicated AC not Heat Pump, and is in St. Louis, MO area according to profile.

    No requirement to have the unit elevated any higher above the pad then the manufacturer has indicated and provided for by its design and instructions.
    H. G.,

    Well, the blow-hard FINELY hit on the right word, and that right word MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE ... (of course, though, you used "then" instead of "than", but I will ignore that in the quote below) - (bold and underlining are mine)
    Quote Originally Posted by H. G. Watson
    No requirement to have the unit elevated any higher above the pad then the manufacturer has indicated and provided for by its design and instructions.
    (bold and underlining are mine)
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck
    - - - (Jerry's note: The manufacturer's installation instructions will specify a 3" high pad, a curb, an elevated support stand, or some other means on which to anchor the condenser unit down; the most restrictive applies when more than one code section applies, which means that 1307.2 will always apply ... unless the manufacturer specifically requires something more restrictive, as does 1305.1.4.1.)


    Gosh, H. G., you still have that same old 'you are better than the rest of us' gift of gab ... too bad you don't put that to use actually reading what is written.

    Now ... let's get back to this:
    Quote Originally Posted by H.G. Watson, Sr.
    Is the disconnect one which can be locked in the open (off) position?
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck
    Having that ability does not matter, the disconnect still needs to be as stated previously.
    I am still waiting for you to provide your response as to why you think that disconnect being lockable would matter or help its installation any.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Readily Accessable Disconnect?

    Do not want to get into the middle of a good squabble. Especially since it is outside the original question.
    But the 3" base is usually required by manufacture install spec. for either A/C or Heat Pump. or am I wrong?


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    Default Re: Readily Accessable Disconnect?

    2006 IRC M1308 MECHANICAL SYSTEMS INSTALLATION

    M1308.3 Foundations and supports. Foundations and supports for outdoor mechanical systems shall be raised at least 3 inches (76mm) above the finished grade, and shall also conform to the manufacturer's installation instructions.

    No good? Why not?

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
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    Default Re: Readily Accessible Disconnect?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post

    I am still waiting for you to provide your response as to why you think that disconnect being lockable would matter or help its installation any.
    1. Was an accepted AHJ approved practice in the region, in the not-too-distant past. Locally adopted codes are done so oftentimes with local ammendments. Disc is readily accessible, just not directly in-line and while maintaining in site of/from AC condensor location; neither most-recent edition, nor unammended NEC has been the universal case in the regional area of the OP.

    2. If my assumption that the OP properly identified the unit as an AC and my own identification of the window based unit was correct, or if either or both not-so-correct and is in anyway oriented as a zonal ductless mini split HVAC system , and not the traditional a/c or HVAC with resistance heat strips, the inside unit could be powered from the single branch circuit powering/supplying the outside unit/disc. In that event the disc may need to be lockable to comply with 422.19 and 422.31(A) since the inside unit would be an appliance as per Art. 100.

    Most mfg's have and continue to provide units which provide the required and necessary clearance when set upon a level surface. Only a select FEW require an additional part number, installed, or similar modification to the unit as packaged and sold to place upon a level surface at finished grade at site location meeting installation instructions, specifications, and applicable code(s). Ground does not equal finished grade.

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 03-10-2011 at 11:14 AM.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Readily Accessable Disconnect?

    Here is the disconnect requirement according to the NEC.


    440.14 Location.
    Disconnecting means shall be located
    within sight from and readily accessible from the airconditioning
    or refrigerating equipment. The disconnecting
    means shall be permitted to be installed on or within the
    air-conditioning or refrigerating equipment.
    The disconnecting means shall not be located on panels
    that are designed to allow access to the air-conditioning or
    refrigeration equipment or to obscure the nameplate.

    While that disconnect would meet the requirement for readily acessible for most cases, it is not in this case as the OP said there is no gate.

    I would be interested to know the length of the wiring (not just the horizontal distance) as I suspect there would be additional questionable issues regarding distance powering the remote structure (condensor), grounding/bonding. Looks to be more than 25 feet.


    Why would this be different if it were only ten foot? If it were metallic LT flex it could have only been used as a ground if 6' or less. Newer codes now require a grounding conductor run in the flex.

    Is there a "convienence"/service receptacle outdoors in the vicinity on the condensor "side" of the fence, only one on the other side of the fence (or is it within the disconnect "box" - thereby making use of it unsafe with the window A/C above it), or non-existant?


    May not have been required at the time of the install.

    I would further wonder if that window a/c is an older one powered via a 250V receptacle (and curious if a 2-wire+gnd - that is to say: no grounded conductor or "neutral")


    When was the last time you saw a 240v AC that needed a neutral?






    Last edited by Jim Port; 03-10-2011 at 11:46 AM. Reason: clarification
    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

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    Default Re: Readily Accessable Disconnect?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    Here is the disconnect requirement according to the NEC.


    440.14 Location.
    Disconnecting means shall be located

    within sight from and readily accessible from the airconditioning
    or refrigerating equipment. The disconnecting
    means shall be permitted to be installed on or within the
    air-conditioning or refrigerating equipment.
    The disconnecting means shall not be located on panels
    that are designed to allow access to the air-conditioning or
    refrigeration equipment or to obscure the nameplate.

    While that disconnect would meet the requirement for readily acessible for most cases, it is not in this case as the OP said there is no gate.



    Why would this be different if it were only ten foot? If it were metallic LT flex it could have only been used as a ground if 6' or less. Newer codes now require a grounding conductor run in the flex.



    May not have been required at the time of the install.



    When was the last time you saw a 240v AC that needed a neutral?





    Neither does an electric water heater or an electric dryer, "need" to "work" however, it does not meet the more current standards for safety of persons or the electrical system or premisis, when the equipment is so connected. Thus I'm agast you'd "go there" regarding a unit exposed to both the indoors and outdoors, or to a remote structure. The "code" has advanced to requiring "four-wire" circuits, for good reason. Further most have on-board 120V power supplies, and did back then as well (timer circuits, supplemental blowers, etc.) thus unbalanced.

    As far as your "might not have been required at time of install argument" equally your logic is back-and-forth. The location of the disconnect beneath a window AC encroaching on headroom for the remote panel and circuit protection is not in keeping with the required dedicated space headroom. Doesn't matter if the window AC wasn't in the window at the time - its a safety issue now. Just as illogical as twisting your readily accessible argument on its head and stating there may have previously been a gate, or even NO FENCE installed at the time the AC disconnect or a replacement or relocation of the condensor was set in place!

    You're giving the reader whiplash with your ever-changing positions logic-wise Mr. Port.


  18. #18
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    Default Re: Readily Accessible Disconnect?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    H. G.,

    Well, the blow-hard FINELY hit on the right word, and that right word MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE ... (of course, though, you used "then" instead of "than", but I will ignore that in the quote below) - (bold and underlining are mine)



    Gosh, H. G., you still have that same old 'you are better than the rest of us' gift of gab ... too bad you don't put that to use actually reading what is written.

    .
    FINELY? You couldn't possibly have meant finally, now could you?

    Especially since YOU, after your "blow-hard" commentary went on so about "then" versus "than".

    You are indeed the epitome of "the pot calling the kettle black".

    So rare it is that you even try to make a point without negative personal attacks and remarks, and in constant defiance of the forum rules and our hosts warnings. How often he has made comments following your negative activity and you, self-deluded 'Mr. Teflon" always conclude it applies to everyone else, and never YOU.


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Readily Accessable Disconnect?

    Please show me where in the Code that you think a 4 wire feeder is required for a straight 240 volt unit like an air conditioner or a water heater. This is not a stove or a dryer, nor a feeder to an outbuilding.

    My comment that you misinterpreted was about the convenience receptacle or lack thereof and the fact that it may not have been required when the air conditioner was installed.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Readily Accessible Disconnect?

    Quote Originally Posted by H.G. Watson, Sr. View Post
    FINELY? You couldn't possibly have meant finally, now could you?
    Yep, I messed that one up didn't I ... oh, but *I* admit it, *YOU* just ignore those and pretend that you never screw up.

    So rare it is that you even try to make a point without negative personal attacks and remarks, and in constant defiance of the forum rules and our hosts warnings. How often he has made comments following your negative activity and you, self-deluded 'Mr. Teflon" always conclude it applies to everyone else, and never YOU.
    There you go again, Watson, *I* do not presume those comments do not apply to me as well, however, from the time Brian posts those reminders to the next time you post in that same prohibited manner is frequently the same day or the next ... as though you do not think they apply to you.

    However, that is beside the point, the main point is that you rarely, if ever, post things without your negative attacks and attitudes toward all others.

    I will let you carry on about the above, the above it the last I say about it least Brian get more complaints and have to remind US again.

    However, I am still wondering ...

    .... why you still have not addressed this or explained why you think the below even matters:
    Quote Originally Posted by H. G. Watson
    Is the disconnect one which can be locked in the open (off) position?


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

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    Default Re: Readily Accessable Disconnect?

    However, I am still wondering ...

    .... why you still have not addressed this or explained why you think the below even matters:
    Heck, inquiring minds are still waiting to find out about receptacles in the side of a cabinet and where the prohibition in the code is.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

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