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    Does Window Air Conditioner require permits

    Does Window Air Conditioner require permits

    New postby sefnfot on Sun Jul 17, 2016 7:14 pm

    Does installing a Window A/C need a permit?
    what about if it is just being replaced? ( from old to new)
    What about for an apartment building? (12 unit 2 story )
    What if the tenant put in a 12 AMP 15,000 BTU in a 1 bedroom apartment? My electrician states that it is unsafe. And it is causing an overload of the circuits in the apartment unit.

    If no permit is required, then can I get one anyway in order to make sure it is safe?

    This is for Los Angeles, California
    sefnfot
     
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    Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2016 2:04 pm

    Re: Does Window Air Conditioner require permits

    New postby Jerry Peck - Codeman on Sun Jul 17, 2016 8:03 pm

    I went here to the Los Angeles building code ordinance:
    - http://library.amlegal.com/nxt/gateway. ... =JD_91.101.

    And found this: (underlining is mine)
    - 91.106.2. EXCEPTIONS: Permit not required for:
    - - 1. Where the work regulated by this Code is valued at $500.00 or less, unless it affects the structural stability of a building, or public safety, or is done to make a building conform to the requirements of this Code for a change in use or occupancy. (Amended by Ord. No. 179,324, Eff. 12/10/07, Oper. 1/1/08.)
    - - 2. Flag poles and towers not erected upon a building and not more than 15 feet high. Radio and television antennae towers which do not exceed 45 feet in height or light standards which do not exceed 30 feet in height.
    - - 3. Construction sheds, state approved construction trailers without toilet facilities and sidewalk protection barriers and canopies built pursuant to Division 33. (Amended by Ord. No. 180,619, Eff. 5/12/09.)
    - - 4. Sandblasting, liquid washing, compressed air cleaning, steam cleaning of buildings outside of Fire District No. 1 and also those exterior surfaces of buildings which are located more than 20 feet from pedestrian walkways in dedicated streets. Painting, papering and similar work, provided, however, that the values thereof shall be included as part of the value of any new construction for which a permit is required by this Code, for the purpose of determining the amount of the fee to be paid for the permit; and provided further that this exception does not include operations such as liquid washing, compressed air cleaning and steam cleaning on the exterior surfaces of buildings adjacent and within 20 feet of pedestrian walkways in dedicated streets where these operations extend above the first story. (Amended by Ord. No. 180,619, Eff. 5/12/09.)
    - - - 5. Platforms, walks and driveways not more than 30 inches (762 mm) above grade and not over any basement or story below.
    - - - 6. Exhibits, booths, partitions and display counters for temporary use not exceeding 30 days in conjunction with an exhibit or show and not exceeding 12 feet in height above the floor.
    - - - 7. Outdoor tents or cloth structures for temporary use not exceeding 30 days and not exceeding 12 feet in any dimension, provided such tents are accessory to an indoor or outdoor assembly use on the site.
    - - - 8. Swimming, bathing and wading pools not exceeding 24 inches in depth or having a surface area not exceeding 250 square feet.
    - - - 9. Canopies or awnings located outside of Fire District No. 1 extending not more than 4 feet from the exterior wall of the building and attached to Group R Occupancies. (Amended by Ord. No. 180,619, Eff. 5/12/09.)
    - - - 10. Impact hazard glazing pursuant to Section 91.6101. (Amended by Ord. No. 180,619, Eff. 5/12/09.)
    - - - 11.Work performed by Certified Licensed Contractors in accordance with Section 91.108.12.1.
    - - - 12. Any work accomplished under the auspices of and owned and controlled by the United States of America, by the State of California or the Los Angeles County.
    - - - 13. Masonry or concrete fences not over 3-1/2 feet high, and other fences not over 10 feet high.
    - - - 14. Tanks for the storage of combustible liquids, if resting upon the surface of the ground and surrounded by an impounding basin conforming to the requirements of Article 7 of Chapter V of the Los Angeles Municipal Code (Fire Code).
    - - - 15. Cases, counters and partitions, not over 5 feet 9 inches high.
    - - - 16. Waterproof pointing of joints in masonry or veneer, also cleaning with detergents which are not injurious to clothing or skin of persons and are not removed by liquid washing, provided work is done from safely enclosed scaffolding which will collect any dust, debris or dropped tools and materials in use.

    Based on a search for the Los Angeles building code and exemptions from a permit, the above indicates that a permit would not be required for a window air conditioner unit if the cost is valued at $500.00 or less (see Exception 1 above).

    Being as it is an apartment building, you may need permission from the building owner or management.

    Most codes exempt portable cord and plug connected equipment and appliances as there is no practical way to enforce permitting for such equipment and appliances (such as plug-in drills, saws, fans, lamps, computers, etc.) - while I did not find an exemption which states those exemptions, logic would indicate that there is likely an exemption for such as there is no way to regulate and enforce a permit for such equipment and appliances.

    A 15,000 Btu window unit rated for 12 amps should be suitable for a 15 amp circuit with nothing else on the circuit. A circuit is designed to carry 80% of it overcurrent rating, which means a 15 amp overcurrent rating (fuse or breaker) is designed for 12 amps (15 amps x 0.80 = 12.0 amps).

    Anything else on the circuit and the circuit is theoretically 'overloaded' (carrying more than it was designed to carrying), however, the overcurrent protection (15 amp fuse or breaker) should not trip unless and until the amperage current draw reaches 15 amps. Between that 12 amp 'design' and the overcurrent rating is where circuit overheating starts and, depending on the age, condition, proper installation, proper conductor sizing, derating for ambient and for bundling/lack of maintaining spacing, etc ... that is where the problems and 'safe' or 'not safe' of the circuit comes in ... and all those things are unknown to us.

    Which means, to be as safe of possible for the designed use of the circuit, if the circuit was properly sized, properly installed, and properly rated for a 15 amp overcurrent device (fuse or breaker), then the 12 amp window unit should be okay if it is the only thing on that circuit.

    If you are experiencing the 15 amp fuse blowing or 15 amp breaker tripping ... that is an indication that there are other things on the circuit (which should be removed from the circuit) or something is wrong with the circuit and a licensed and qualified electrical contractor should check the circuit to find out what is wrong with it.

    "Safe" is not a question which can be answered over the internet or without actually checking the circuit - all that can be addressed is if ... IF ... IF the circuit was properly sized, properly protected, properly installed, and nothing is wrong with the circuit ,,, then the "design" rating of the circuit is all that can be addressed.
    Jerry Peck - CodeMan
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    Re: Does Window Air Conditioner require permits

    New postby sefnfot on Mon Jul 18, 2016 3:58 pm

    Thank you, I see I have reached a master on this subject.

    I am the property owner/manager and my electrician claims that the tenant is causing a hazard.

    For one the tenant is using 2 AC at the same time which is on the same line. This is also the same line as other outlets throughout the apartment.
    (15,000 BTU and a 7,000 BTU).

    This has been an ongoing issue since 2013 and has gone exactly as my electrician predicted: repairs resulting from overload was required in Sept 2015.

    The tenant is also using an extension cord/power strip/ surge protector on both AC's. And he has as much as 11 items plugged into outlets throughout the apartment unit.

    This building was built in 1930's

    And I am trying to prevent a fire/hazard. However; because of LA housing rules, I cant simply get rid of the tenant. ( I have called the Fire Dept, Dept of B&S and Housing without success.

    I have been told that to run these 2 A/C units safely would require a dedicated line per unit. Is there a code that would require a dedicated line based on the configuration as mentioned?
    sefnfot
     
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    Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2016 2:04 pm

    Re: Does Window Air Conditioner require permits

    New postby Jerry Peck - Codeman on Mon Jul 18, 2016 4:44 pm

    sefnfot wrote:This building was built in 1930's

    And I am trying to prevent a fire/hazard. However; because of LA housing rules, I cant simply get rid of the tenant. ( I have called the Fire Dept, Dept of B&S and Housing without success.

    I have been told that to run these 2 A/C units safely would require a dedicated line per unit. Is there a code that would require a dedicated line based on the configuration as mentioned?


    What kind or repairs were made due to the "overload"? If the circuit was "overloaded" - the fuse or breaker should trip.

    Bulit In the 1930's - do you have fuses or circuit breakers? Fuses were likely originally installed, the electrical panels made have been replaced with upgraded breaker panels?

    What type of wring is installed? BX? Rubber insulated? The rubber insulation is likely dried out, cracking, and bad by now - overloading those circuits would not be a good thing.

    Fuse panels would originally have had Edison base fuse holders, those are the more dangerous (less safe) fuse holders because of the old 'put a penny behind the fuse' aspect and the fuse will never blow (takes a lot of current to melt that copper penny). Newer fuse panels had fuse holders which were designed to accept 'Safe-T-Fuse' fuses which made contact at the bottom and the top, the 'penny trick' would not work on those fuse holders ... however, people started wrapping those Safe-T-Fuses in aluminum foil to defeat them, not as effective as the copper penny in the Edison base fuse holders, but still quite effective in reducing fuses blowing from overloading the circuits.

    IF you have fuse panels and the fuse holders are the Edison base type holders, the National Electrical Code requires that, if there is evidence of over-fusing or tampering, that Safe-T-Fuse adapters be installed (which helps, but does not eliminate the problem because the new fuses will just be wrapped in aluminum foil ... but they are effective until that is done).

    If you have breaker panels, have your electrician verify that the proper size breaker is installed for the wiring, and if there is doubt about the proper rating of the circuit (derating for ambient, bundling, etc), then put in the next size down breaker (the lowest rated breakers will be 15 amps) as that will protect the circuit, which is what the overcurrent protection are for - the overcurrent protection is not to protect people or equipment, it is to protect the circuit itself - your electrician should be able to make some determinations on what derating may be required (a #12 AWG conductor, normally rated for 20 amp, may need to be derated to 15 amps, a #14 AWG conductor, normally rated for 15 amps ... is pretty much stuck with a 15 amp breaker).

    Your best protection will be breakers, and derating for the conditions the electrician finds. Then the tenant will have frequent breaker tripping if they overload the circuit - a 15 amp breaker should not trip at 15 amps, it will take a while to trip at 16 amps, but will take less time as the amps rise, taking almost not measurable time for a short circuit and high amps.

    The code which would be applicable to existing buildings such as yours will typically be a Property Maintenance Code, check with the city to find out what Property Maintenance Code they have/are using ... be aware that the Property Maintenance Code could open up a can of worms for things you were not even aware of. A Property Maintenance Code could also be called an existing building safety code, a minimum property standards code, minimum housing code, or other names - but they would be referring to a code which is applied to existing properties to keep those properties in a minimum safe and sanitary condition.
    Jerry Peck - CodeMan
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