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  1. #1
    Tim Dykema's Avatar
    Tim Dykema Guest

    Default Equipment Access in Crawl

    I'm building a house and helping significantly with design. House is subject to 2006 IRC. I don't have the code in front of me but I am wondering this:

    I think the relevant sections are all found in section 1305...maybe minimum equipment access size is elsewhere?

    Do you interpret that the "access to equipment below a floor" requirement is a separate item from the "ability to remove equipment without removing permanent construction" requirement?

    The reason I ask is this:

    The crawl space has 2 separate access "holes" as there are air handlers at two different locations and we needed to meet the max 20 foot pathway requirement. The one access is plenty big and has no obstructions above or below it that would prevent removing either of the air handlers. The crawl space also does not have any obstructions that would restrict movement from one access hole to the other. The other access hole meets the minimum size requirement (18"x24" required and it is 22" x 30") however we would like to build a permanent shelf and wall 30" above the access hole that would make removal of the 20"x20"x40" air handler impossible...I don't think you would be able to get it out far enough and rotate it before you hit the shelf. In the rare case that we would have to remove the equipment, it could be brought the length of the home over to the other access point where removal would be simple.

    I guess the real question is does the removal of equipment part have to meet the 20' requirement? Or is it OK to meet the access opening size requirement, meet the minimum pathway size and clear work area/pad requirement AND via separate means...meet the removal requirement?

    Thanks for weighing in.

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Spring Hill (Nashville), TN
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    5,847

    Default Re: Equipment Access in Crawl

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Dykema View Post
    I'm building a house and helping significantly with design. House is subject to 2006 IRC. I don't have the code in front of me but I am wondering this:

    I think the relevant sections are all found in section 1305...maybe minimum equipment access size is elsewhere?

    Do you interpret that the "access to equipment below a floor" requirement is a separate item from the "ability to remove equipment without removing permanent construction" requirement?

    The reason I ask is this:

    The crawl space has 2 separate access "holes" as there are air handlers at two different locations and we needed to meet the max 20 foot pathway requirement. The one access is plenty big and has no obstructions above or below it that would prevent removing either of the air handlers. The crawl space also does not have any obstructions that would restrict movement from one access hole to the other. The other access hole meets the minimum size requirement (18"x24" required and it is 22" x 30") however we would like to build a permanent shelf and wall 30" above the access hole that would make removal of the 20"x20"x40" air handler impossible...I don't think you would be able to get it out far enough and rotate it before you hit the shelf. In the rare case that we would have to remove the equipment, it could be brought the length of the home over to the other access point where removal would be simple.

    I guess the real question is does the removal of equipment part have to meet the 20' requirement? Or is it OK to meet the access opening size requirement, meet the minimum pathway size and clear work area/pad requirement AND via separate means...meet the removal requirement?

    Thanks for weighing in.
    You do know that the typical lifespan of an HVAC unit in a crawlspace is going to be reduced a fair amount. I would say that you could expect to have to replace the unit or parts of the unit in about 10 years, give or take...

    If you are going to limit the work area I would contact your local AHJ. This would be your local municipality who governs the codes. I would also double check to make sure that they are still on the 2006 IRC, I was just informed this past week at a state code inspectors meeting that many jurisdictions around the country jumped from the 2006 to the 2012 IRC... Surprise surprise surprise...

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
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    26,252

    Default Re: Equipment Access in Crawl

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Dykema View Post
    Do you interpret that the "access to equipment below a floor" requirement is a separate item from the "ability to remove equipment without removing permanent construction" requirement?
    They are separate, but not 'one or the other', 'separate and both' would be the correct way to think about multiple requirements.

    As Scott indicated, I would think twice before installing the HVAC equipment in the crawlspace.

    Your cute 'Location: United States' does not tell us ANYTHING, might as well say 'Planet Earth'.

    Have you considered flood regulations and making sure that the equipment is also above any FEMA flood levels?

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

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Orlando, FL
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    1,340

    Default Re: Equipment Access in Crawl

    In the real world, it really doesn't matter make size you make the crawlspace hatch/opening (obviously make it compliant and large enough for workers)--HVAC contractors like to leave the old, abandoned equipment in the crawl, no matter what.

    Most homeowners don't look down there anyway. Old ductwork, dead air handlers, water heaters, discarded debris of all kinds.

    Frame out a closet and put the air handler in the conditioned space.


  5. #5
    Tim Dykema's Avatar
    Tim Dykema Guest

    Default Re: Equipment Access in Crawl

    Thanks for the responses, I appreciate it.

    The crawl is fully enclosed and insulated. Primary heat source is hydronic in-floor. Air handlers are for air quality, secondary/back-up heat and geo-thermal A/C. DHW, in-floor and heat exchanger are all driven by above grade mechanical room boilers. Air handlers will be suspended on anti-vibration mounts in the locations they were not specified above grade. All 3 sections of foundation have their own collection and sump pump in case of water ingress with alarm sensors.

    We are not proposing to limit the work area. Still IRC 2006 here. This is a FEMA Zone X location.

    =====

    Just went and double checked the measurements and mocked up an equivalently sized "air handler box" and if I raise the permanent shelf and wall to begin at least 31 1/2" AFF...unit can be removed. Problem solved.

    Thanks again.

    Last edited by Tim Dykema; 10-19-2012 at 12:30 PM.

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