Results 1 to 17 of 17
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    McKinney Texas
    Posts
    475

    Default AC condenser disconnect switch " readily accessible" ?

    The two AC disconnects are separated from the two condenser by a wooden gate. Access to the gate is simple except when the homeowner has it pad-locked, which he commonly does. In the photo, the gate is opened for the photograph. 2011 NEC 440.14 reads disconnect should be "on or within sight of condenser". In my opinion the disconnect on the opposite side of the gate violates the NEC accessibility rule.
    IMG_5284.jpg

    Similar Threads:
    2018 ASHI InspectionWorld

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    26,246

    Default Re: AC condenser disconnect switch " readily accessible" ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gene South View Post
    The two AC disconnects are separated from the two condenser by a wooden gate.
    .
    .
    In my opinion the disconnect on the opposite side of the gate violates the NEC accessibility rule.
    You are correct in that the installation is not in compliance with the NEC, but not regarding accessibility (the disconnects can be accessed quite easily) ... the person servicing those condenser units needs to be able to see when someone else turns the disconnect back on.

    That's why the 'within sight of' rule: 50 feet, straight-line-of-sight, no obstructions blocking that line-of-sight.

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

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    McKinney Texas
    Posts
    475

    Default Re: AC condenser disconnect switch " readily accessible" ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    You are correct in that the installation is not in compliance with the NEC, but not regarding accessibility (the disconnects can be accessed quite easily) ... the person servicing those condenser units needs to be able to see when someone else turns the disconnect back on.

    That's why the 'within sight of' rule: 50 feet, straight-line-of-sight, no obstructions blocking that line-of-sight.

    Thanks Jerry for the clarification on line of sight. In addition, what if the gate were locked (as it usually is), does that impact the fulfillment of the code? Are there two components to the code? Line of sight and direct accessibility?


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    26,246

    Default Re: AC condenser disconnect switch " readily accessible" ?

    Gene,

    The gate being locked is not an issue as that disconnect is a 'service disconnect' to shut off the power to the unit for servicing.

    One could presume that someone there to service the unit would have access to the unit, and with nothing between the unit and the disconnect (if that fence was not there as it should not be), accessing the disconnect would not be a problem.

    The disconnect is permitted to be inside or outside that lockable gate - the only requirement would be that the disconnect be on the same side of the gate and fence as the condenser unit is located.

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

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    McKinney Texas
    Posts
    475

    Default Re: AC condenser disconnect switch " readily accessible" ?

    Thanks Jerry. The line of sight appears to be the only issue with this installation, correct?


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Plano, Texas
    Posts
    4,170

    Default Re: AC condenser disconnect switch " readily accessible" ?

    Agreed, move the fence to the other side of the disconnect and all is well. That cures line of sight and accessibility.
    Technicality, what if it was a metal fence providing clear line of sight but not access from the unit side? What if not accessible due to locks on gate or other reason?

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    McKinney Texas
    Posts
    475

    Default Re: AC condenser disconnect switch " readily accessible" ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Luttrall View Post
    Agreed, move the fence to the other side of the disconnect and all is well. That cures line of sight and accessibility.
    Technicality, what if it was a metal fence providing clear line of sight but not access from the unit side? What if not accessible due to locks on gate or other reason?

    Good point Jim, A wrought iron fence or chain-link fence that provided clear visibility but no access.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Lansdale, PA
    Posts
    876

    Default Re: AC condenser disconnect switch " readily accessible" ?

    They could cut a small opening in the fence to allow someone to reach through and remove the disconnect. Most have a removable "switch", so not likely that someone could turn on the unit. Since the disconnects are so close to the units I would not be bothered much by the lack of line of sight.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    26,246

    Default Re: AC condenser disconnect switch " readily accessible" ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Luttrall View Post
    Agreed, move the fence to the other side of the disconnect and all is well. That cures line of sight and accessibility.
    Correct, that resolves the 'code issue'.

    Technicality, what if it was a metal fence providing clear line of sight but not access from the unit side? What if not accessible due to locks on gate or other reason?
    The 'code issue' would be resolved as the person working on the condenser unit could see someone turning the disconnect back on.

    The 'stupid issue' would not be resolved by a chain link, wrought iron, or other similar style of fence which allows one to see through (I'm not referring to a fence which allows one to 'see through' if they look through it 'just right', I'm talking about seeing through it being comparable to seeing through a chain link fence - really, really easy to 'see through').

    The 'stupid issue' is that the person working on the condenser unit sees someone turning the disconnect back on and yells at that person to stop - the 'stupid issue' part then kicks in:
    - a) the person turning on the disconnect looks at the person working on the condenser unit and still turns the disconnect back on ... that is stupid;
    - b) the person working on the condenser unit keeps working on the condenser unit when the person turns the disconnect back on ... that is stupid.

    Codes do not address 'stupid'. There are simply too many 'stupid' ways to defeat even something simple - remember that photo I posted of a person with a hat on turned to the back, then shading their eyes from the sun ... someone will find a stupid way to defeat even simple stuff, stuff which may be considered 'stupid proof' by others. Nothing is ever 'stupid proof'. or should that be

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

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    26,246

    Default Re: AC condenser disconnect switch " readily accessible" ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Reinmiller View Post
    Since the disconnects are so close to the units I would not be bothered much by the lack of line of sight.
    You are working on the condenser units with your hands in the unit working on electrical parts (most parts are electrically energized) ... and someone turns the disconnect back on ... and you would not be bothered much by that?

    I don't take kindly to electrical shocks, whether given by myself or others, but especially not when given by others when my head is down in some equipment looking around ... just sayin' ... might blurt out something like ... !

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

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Knoxville, TN
    Posts
    2,445

    Default Re: AC condenser disconnect switch " readily accessible" ?

    Could they not just use a lock out breaker?


  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    26,246

    Default Re: AC condenser disconnect switch " readily accessible" ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Feldmann View Post
    Could they not just use a lock out breaker?
    Not for the condenser unit.

    For the air handler unit, yes.
    (added the below with edit as it addresses the above air handler statement)

    ... er ... no ... er maybe ...

    For years I read this as being required at air conditioning equipment, which included the air handler, then others (very knowledgeable and respected electrical code people) convinced me that the air handler was not part of the air conditioning equipment (even though I thought it was) and the air handler did not require the disconnect at the unit ... however, and to clarify what I remembered ... I just went and re-read the 2014 NEC 440.14 and I am going to stand by my previous thinking based on the wording of the code that the disconnect at the air handler is included in the requirement that the disconnect be located at the equipment.

    From the 2014 NEC;
    440.14 Location. Disconnecting means shall be located within sight from and readily accessible from the air-conditioning equipment or refrigerating equipment. The disconnecting means shall be permitted to be installed on or within the air-conditioning or refrigeration 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 equipment nameplate(s).
    - Exception No. 1: (typing in only the key phrase for this exception) " ... and the refrigeration or air-conditioning equipment is essential to an industrial process in a facility with written safety procedures and ... ensure that only qualified persons service the equipment ... " (thus the exception is not applicable to a dwelling unit, or even a commercial building, this exception is very limited in application)
    - Exception No. 2: (refers to cord and plug connected equipment as allowed in 440.13 - "such as room air-conditioners, household refrigerators and freezers, drinking water coolers and beverage dispensers", thus this exception is not applicable to a dwelling unit's central system)

    I will wait to see how many of the electricians agree or disagree that the air handler has the same disconnect location requirements as the condenser units have.

    Last edited by Jerry Peck; 01-31-2016 at 08:17 AM.
    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Lansdale, PA
    Posts
    876

    Default Re: AC condenser disconnect switch " readily accessible" ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    You are working on the condenser units with your hands in the unit working on electrical parts (most parts are electrically energized) ... and someone turns the disconnect back on ... and you would not be bothered much by that?

    I don't take kindly to electrical shocks, whether given by myself or others, but especially not when given by others when my head is down in some equipment looking around ... just sayin' ... might blurt out something like ... !
    Jerry, every disconnect switch that I see used for condensing units has a removable "switch". If the contractor puts it in his pocket he should not have much to worry about. Who are these people that decide they need to turn on the AC while it is being serviced (ok, maybe they don't know that) and are smart enough to realize that it does not turn on because the AC disconnect switch is off?


  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    26,246

    Default Re: AC condenser disconnect switch " readily accessible" ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Reinmiller View Post
    Jerry, every disconnect switch that I see used for condensing units has a removable "switch". If the contractor puts it in his pocket he should not have much to worry about. Who are these people that decide they need to turn on the AC while it is being serviced (ok, maybe they don't know that) and are smart enough to realize that it does not turn on because the AC disconnect switch is off?
    Mark,

    The key is that code is a minimum requirement, and the does not, cannot, require a 'removable disconnect".

    Neither can the code require the contractor to take the removable disconnect with them. ("Stupid is as stupid does.")

    Therefore, the code requires that the disconnect be able to be seen, direct line of sight, from the condenser unit ... anything less is unacceptable.

    I can just see the home inspector telling the judge that, well, 'all he had to do was put that piece in his pocket ... he would not have been electrocuted if he had' ... and the judge responds with 'and all you had to do was write it down on your list at your inspection', then the judge adds 'guilty as charged'.

    I too have seen those disconnect, I have seen those disconnects with the removable piece removed and put back in just as the directions on the disconnect show "OFF" and "ON", just turn the removable piece around and put it back in.

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

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Knoxville, TN
    Posts
    2,445

    Default Re: AC condenser disconnect switch " readily accessible" ?

    I wonder what the chances are that someone might come by and flip a breaker that is off at a residence. To me it would be very odd (not impossible) for a homeowner to go flip on a breaker, when they know they have a repair guy at the house. Same goes for another tradesman.
    I get the reasoning, but have to wonder what the actual chances are.


  16. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Caledon, Ontario
    Posts
    5,005

    Default Re: AC condenser disconnect switch " readily accessible" ?

    My neighbour had their pool serviced and the service tech shut off the breaker supplying the pool pump for servicing. When he completed his duties, he went back to the panel and turned on the breaker, along with one that had been shut off by the owner, which supplied the sauna heater.

    Since the sauna became a storage room and items got piled on top of the heater - it wasn't long before the the fire started.


  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    26,246

    Default Re: AC condenser disconnect switch " readily accessible" ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Feldmann View Post
    I get the reasoning, but have to wonder what the actual chances are.
    Once is too often.

    If otherwise, tell that to the surviving spouse and family members.

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

Tags for this Thread

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •