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  1. #1

    Attic Installation

    Anyone here up with the County Codes in Fairfax Virginia? I recently went to a call for an attic system in the house not cooling properly and leaking water. Well, the leaking water was a slight understatement. The installer did not install an emergency pan shut-off switch or easy trap and guess what, both drains clogged and the ceiling fell down. I told the H/O, I thought, I am not for certain, that it probably is a code requirement, to have this shut-off switch or easy trap installed in an attic system. The not cooling properly was possible due to the fact that the installer removed a 3.0 ton system and replaced it with a 2.0 ton system. When the H/O called the original installer, he told her the Government was on his back about installing big systems in houses now and they were supposed to install smaller systems now because they used less energy! He also told her it didn't make any difference if the house was built with a 3.0 ton system, and that 3.0 ton system cooled the house properly for 15 years prior, until the compressor failed, the Government told him to install a smaller system this time. Anyway, the sizing is another issue, I was wondering about the emergency pan shut-off switch or easy trap. Does anyone here know if it is a code requirement?

    Thanks for reading.
    Rob

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    Atlanta GA area
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    WOW... sounds like you guys have hacks up there also...

    I lived in Falls Church in the late 1980's I remember the folks that would believe anything if it was 'the government' that mandated it... bunch of sheep.

    I am SURE it is code to have that safety switch, however I would install one regardless. My personal view is to place two safety switches on the system; one at the coil secondary and another at the pan... and if using a condensate pump (which would always be IN the pan), wire it in also.

    This is a sales point for me... to always arrange safety from condensate water spills... customers seem to like it.
    GA-HVAC-Tech

    Quality work at a fair price with excellent customer service!

    Romans Ch's 5-6-7-8

    2 Chronicles 7:14

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
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    Houston, Tx
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    Quote Originally Posted by rob williams View Post
    Anyone here up with the County Codes in Fairfax Virginia? I recently went to a call for an attic system in the house not cooling properly and leaking water. Well, the leaking water was a slight understatement. The installer did not install an emergency pan shut-off switch or easy trap and guess what, both drains clogged and the ceiling fell down. I told the H/O, I thought, I am not for certain, that it probably is a code requirement, to have this shut-off switch or easy trap installed in an attic system. The not cooling properly was possible due to the fact that the installer removed a 3.0 ton system and replaced it with a 2.0 ton system. When the H/O called the original installer, he told her the Government was on his back about installing big systems in houses now and they were supposed to install smaller systems now because they used less energy! He also told her it didn't make any difference if the house was built with a 3.0 ton system, and that 3.0 ton system cooled the house properly for 15 years prior, until the compressor failed, the Government told him to install a smaller system this time. Anyway, the sizing is another issue, I was wondering about the emergency pan shut-off switch or easy trap. Does anyone here know if it is a code requirement?

    Thanks for reading.
    Rob
    You can call the mechanical division of your city (public works) and find out the codes for yourself but around here in Houston where 99.9% of all systems are in attics, the other .01% being closet verticals, ALL systems receive float switches.

    Never have I heard of any government mandating for a smaller system, if that were true everyone on this site would know about it by now. If I'm not mistaken government rebates and the likes are for higher seer (energy efficiency) rated systems, not 'go smaller', so that would be the only angle the government associates itself with concerning hvac and efficiency.

    I'm thinking that the 2 ton system is working twice as hard to cool that house which is why it dumped so much water in the first place not too mention since it's running longer and probably not cycling properly it's using more energy than the 'correct' size original 3 ton.

    He's lying through his teeth IMO. He got caught doing something he shouldn't have that is costing the home owner property damage and some headache and he's trying to get out of it by shifting the blame to the government. Priceless.

    If that happened here, the a/c company would be buying a new ceiling, no question.

  4. #4
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    Oct 2010
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    Houston, Tx
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    And regardless of the a/c system size, any half wit who knows anything about hvac knows about condensate (water) and especially if the coil is in the attic a float switch is needed for exactly the reason you are now describing.

    That is the icing on the cake IMO. He really screwed up.

  5. #5
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    Jan 2001
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    Pamnyra VA.
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    710
    Sounds oversized on the original install, and they probably have to do a manual j to qualify for a goverment or utility rebate with a correct load count.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roadhouse View Post
    And regardless of the a/c system size, any half wit who knows anything about hvac knows about condensate (water) and especially if the coil is in the attic a float switch is needed for exactly the reason you are now describing.

    That is the icing on the cake IMO. He really screwed up.
    There was a thread a month or so ago, asking what a 'hack' is... I think we have an answer here...
    GA-HVAC-Tech

    Quality work at a fair price with excellent customer service!

    Romans Ch's 5-6-7-8

    2 Chronicles 7:14

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by skibme View Post
    Sounds oversized on the original install, and they probably have to do a manual j to qualify for a goverment or utility rebate with a correct load count.
    Good point.

    Rob Williams, was there any mention/observation of a heat load calculation being performed on this home? The heat load calculation, also known as the aforementioned Man J, determines what size system you need.

    Did the installer of the new system do one?

  8. #8
    No mention of the manual j by this replacement Contractor. I can ask the H/O, but the original 3.0 ton system was done with the building of the house. I am quite sure the original Contractor performed one at that time. Wait, no, I am not sure. You all know anything can happen. But, whenever I/we do an attic install, we always put the cut-off switch in the emergency pan. I just wasn't real familiar with the codes in Fairfax County. I was told by the person teaching the Continuing Education class that is required to renew our Master HVAC Tradesman License, that it was a code everywhere. However, the H/O informed me that this Contractor said it was not true. This is the same Contractor that also said the Government wanted everybody to install smaller units now instead of bigger ones. But I appreciate evryone's response to this. I told the H/O I would try and help her because she is basically in tears, not knowing what to do. I will try and call the Code Enforcement Office in Fairfax County, although I have never had much luck in getting them to answer the telephone.


    Thanks
    Rob

  9. #9
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    Oct 2010
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    Knoxville, Tn
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    Yeah, i know back home in Florida youhad to have a safety float switch just for that reason by code. How often do units get switched out to smaller sizes without anyone doing a load calc? I do Hvac design for mostly commerical buildings, and i would never throw something on paper without load calcs to back me up.. crazy

  10. #10
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    Dec 2007
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    I don't think it's a written code here but is sure is the smart thing to do. My next question would be how long has the equip been installed and did the HO bother to call someone out to service it before it became an emergency? Was the drain system improper?
    I'm not tolerating Political Correctness anymore, from now on it's tell it like it is.

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  11. #11
    Finally got through to the Inspector's Office in Fairfax County. It is not a code requirement at this time. Apparently, as this guy told me, if something becomes a repeated issue/complaint, they review it and make a code change. But as of now, it is not. The drain was installed correctly, and she/H/O has called the Company that installed it repeatedly, for the last three years. They keep saying it is not their problem and she basically has to live with it. She apparently had someone working in her attic this summer and he kicked loose one of the supply ducts and air was blowing in the attic. I think this stirred up the insulation, which helped to clog the condensate drain. She is going to try to register a complaint with the VA DPOR License Office in Richmond tomorrow. I am going over to her house to clear the drain and install an emergency shut-off switch. I will try and get some decent pics and upload them for your reviewing enjoyment. Thanks for everyone's responses and feedback. I appreciate it.

    Rob

  12. #12
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    Oct 2010
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    Quote Originally Posted by rob williams View Post
    Finally got through to the Inspector's Office in Fairfax County. It is not a code requirement at this time. Apparently, as this guy told me, if something becomes a repeated issue/complaint, they review it and make a code change. But as of now, it is not. The drain was installed correctly, and she/H/O has called the Company that installed it repeatedly, for the last three years. They keep saying it is not their problem and she basically has to live with it. She apparently had someone working in her attic this summer and he kicked loose one of the supply ducts and air was blowing in the attic. I think this stirred up the insulation, which helped to clog the condensate drain. She is going to try to register a complaint with the VA DPOR License Office in Richmond tomorrow. I am going over to her house to clear the drain and install an emergency shut-off switch. I will try and get some decent pics and upload them for your reviewing enjoyment. Thanks for everyone's responses and feedback. I appreciate it.

    Rob

    If it was not a code requirement to install a drain float switch and the drains were properly installed and working correctly then the only thing she MIGHT have going for here is if either yourself or another hvac tech or engineer performs a load calc on her home (or get ahold of the original builders as they might have the original paperwork that determined it a 3 ton) and if it is determined that a 3 ton indeed is what is needed than I'm thinking that a complaint against the hvac company could be rendered with probable cause to enforce it. Not certain anything could come of it though unless she has it in writing that the government told him, new installer, to put in a smaller system at which point they'll, the hvac company that installed the new 2 ton, have to come up with something in writing that says the governement did just that but I doubt she does as I doubt the govermnment said any such thing and so on so forth and she might just very well be stuck.

    Now since she had someone else in her attic who kicked off a duct and kicked up some insulation, I'd try possibly seeing what he has to say.

    Who was this guy and why was he in the attic doing what kind of work exactly anyways?

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Location
    Pamnyra VA.
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    710
    Could have been a cable guy or alarm guy... I think he is on the hook for any and all damages. It was fine (draining) before he got there. Now the sizing issue is anybody's guess. The only code I can think of is the secondary must show in an obvious spot.I'm not up on them.

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