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    HVAC contractor quoting Code requirements-TX

    HVAC contractor quoting Code requirements-TX

    New postby thmzenell on Thu Aug 06, 2009 3:05 pm

    Your site came very highly recommended from another web expert.

    We have a home warranty and they have approved a new evaporator coil for our attic HVAC unit. The company they require us to use will replace it but they are “requiring” us to get the system up to code and we think it is up to code but are not HVAC technicians. Our premise is that the reason they use “Code” as a hammer is that they think the warranty company doesn’t pay them what they want for labor so they go after nebulous Code violations. If we don’t pay their extortionst prices for what they are saying are code violations, they tell us that our only option is to get the Home Warranty company to “cash us out”. They know that we can’t get it replaced for the amount we receive as a cash out. The Home Warranty company won’t allow us to use a competitive bid system by getting a second opinion even if we are willing to pay another “co-pay” to get another contractor to look at the job. They say that if they approve the job then we have to use the contractor they choose OR cash out. So, the contractor knows they have us over a barrel.

    Our unit is 7 years old in the attic and currently, has attic hangers with two straps, and has mastic around the ductwork going into the plenum. I have read many of your posts and it appears that the mastic meets code.

    They are charging an outrageous amount ($178) to haul off the old coil—which they probably will turn around and sell for the copper and the purchaser will do whatever cleaning might be required—if any.. I called our local solid waste and they will take it if we have the invoice from the HVAC contractor which is enough proof that under their license they evacuated the Freon.

    Here are the Universal Mechanical Codes they are quoting for the mastic and hangers:
    We are in Texas. Should they be quoting Texas Mechanical codes rather than Universal one?

    Hanger Kit UMC 304.4; $151 I found another site that says inspectors ask for installation manuals so I found our unit’s manual on line and it says to place it on a level surface which we have because there is a platform under the current one.

    Mastic seal seams and duct collars UMC 602 Section 8 ($225 to seal four 10-inch ducts going into the plenum) I read a couple of your postings about sealing and they mention codes other than 602 but ours appear to be sealed according to the codes that you have quoted for other posters.

    Condensation plan float switch UMC 308.1 and 310.3 (We currently don’t have one but we were told by another hvac that this is optional)

    We told them to leave the unit and we would dispose and the salesman started quoting EPA and licenses and how they have to clean it, etc. Using EPA 308-1-98-020 We are quite sure that all they will do is call someone to haul it off and the hauler will pay them a little for the copper. I called our local solid waste and they will take it if we have the invoice from the HVAC contractor which is enough proof that under their license they evacuated the Freon.

    I’ve given a diatribe to explain the situation but the bottom line is, do the codes they quote apply to the issues they say exist?

    We understand our warranty policy and that it won’t pay for getting codes up to date if they aren’t up to date but we want to be sure that the HVAC contractor isn’t making up far fetching codes that may or may not be applicable in Texas OR is expecting us to pay them to put the system back up to code when it was up to code when they arrived.

    Re: HVAC contractor quoting Code requirements-TX

    New postby Jerry Peck - Codeman on Thu Aug 06, 2009 10:53 pm

    Hard to find the correct place to start on the answer ...

    First, Texas is an unusual place for building codes (as are many other states, but Texas has an unusual setup) in that, as I understand building code applicability in Texas, the 2006 IRC is the statewide adopted code ... unless a municipality has adopted a different code (which I believe still must be one of the versions of the IRC, which is out in the 2000 edition, the 2003 edition, the 2006 edition, and now the 2009 edition), and, if a municipality has not adopted a building code (many have not) then the county adopted building code is in effect, unless the county has not adopted a building code, in which case the building code adopted by the county seat city is in effect.

    Complicated, and my presentation of it may be a little off, but I believe it is close, however, being as the state as adopted the 2006 IRC for dwelling units as the fill-in code for areas with no codes, that is the code I will use.

    First and foremost, then, and if I am correct on the codes as stated above, the Uniform codes do not apply in Texas.

    There is a IMC (International Mechanical Code), however, that is not applicable to dwelling units, the IRC (International Residential Code) is.

    Regardless of when a system was installed, the replacement system or equipment is required to be installed in accordance with the current code at the time of installation, that is not an "upgrade", that is a simple requirement.

    An "upgrade" would be if you replaced the AHU (Air Handler Unit) and you were also required to "upgrade" the duct work system which was attached to it, but you are not, only that the replacement AHU be installed according the current code - the AHU installation is not being "upgraded", it is simply being done in accordance with current codes - always has been that way.

    Think of it this way: when they disconnect the electrical, the duct work, the condensate drain lines, etc., from the existing AHU unit and replace the air handler unit ONLY, the existing electrical can be connected back up to the new AHU as long as the existing electrical meets the requirements of the new unit (and it likely will, without any changes).

    Additionally, the duct work can be reconnected to the new AHU with only the connection to the AHU being connected in accordance with current code. The other parts of the duct work system are not required to be "upgraded" or changed ... unless the HVAC contractor also took those duct sections or connections apart, then those too would be required to be connected in accordance with current code.

    The problem with the condensate lines is that the old AHU installation instruction may have allowed for, or required, a different connection than the new AHU installation instructions allows for or requires, and what the current code requires or allows for.

    The 2006 IRC code states: (underlining and bold are mine)
    - SECTION M1307
    - - - M1307.1 General. Installation of appliances shall conform to the conditions of their listing and label and the manufacturer’s installation instructions. The manufacturer’s operating and installation instructions shall remain attached to the appliance.

    When the new AHU is installed ... it is REQUIRED to be installed in accordance with the MANUFACTURER'S INSTALLATION INSTRUCTIONS ... AND ... the HVAC contractor is REQUIRED to leave the installation instructions attached to the AHU.

    However your installation instructions states the new AHU is to be installed, that is simply how it is required to be installed, the contractor has no choice if he wants to: 1) be in compliance with the code; 2) be in compliance with the installation instructions; 3) leave the liability with the manufacturer (installing the unit as the contractor sees fit puts the contractor in line for any and all liability if something goes wrong with the installation) - any intelligent contractor will do their best *not to* take over some of the manufacturer's risk as the manufacturer has the deep pockets, the HVAC contractor does not.

    Let us presume that something does happen with the installation of the new AHU, for arguments sake and for this example. Let's say the house burns down as a result of it. *IF* the HVAC contractor can prove that they installed the AHU precisely and exactly as the manufacturers stated in the installation instructions, they are essentially off the hook and the manufacturer is on the hook. However, if the HVAC contractor did something different, they could be found to be either a contributing factor or as the cause, and the HVAC contractor would be on the hook - you would sue the manufacturer too, but the manufacturer's insurance company would then go knocking on the HVAC contractor's insurance company's door to get their money back, and the HVAC contractor would be responsible for a great deal of out-of-pocket expenses, not to mention making it harder to get insurance in the future for flagrantly violating the manufacturer's installation instructions.

    I'm not sure I have fully answered your question, however, I believe it is a starting point from which you can isolate a future question in a more specific manner.

    Would you post a link to the manufacturer's installation instructions for your NEW unit? That way I have something specific to address your questions to and to refer you to for the answer.
    Jerry Peck - CodeMan

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    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC.
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