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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Posts
    151

    NEC 110.26 working space for disconnect doesn't apply when there is upstream breaker?

    My water softener is 10" too close to the disconnect (Square D non-fused) if I apply a strict interpretation of NEC 110.26 30" side working space and I'm wondering if I need to worry about possibly having to move the softener before the condenser is installed.. and before inspector comes out.

    After reading about this more on the forums, I realized my disconnect is protected by a 30A breaker which is just a few feet away on the main panel on the same wall, and that therefore maybe NEC 110.26 doesn't apply to my disconnect? Because of the convenient upstream breaker, it is unlikely to be energized when someone is working inside the disconnect. Are local inspectors typically ok with this viewpoint?

    I found the following on another discussion forum:

    "A/C disconnects are not covered by article 110.26 because you can de-energize it to service it."

    An article in ECMag.com says:

    "Depending on interpretation, one could argue the clearances described in 110.26(A) are only required where it is “likely” that “examination, adjustment, servicing, or maintenance” are necessary while the equipment is energized. The clear working space that is required by the first sentence as described in 110.26(A) may be eliminated only where examination, adjustment, servicing and maintenance are not “likely” to occur when energized exposed live parts, etc., are present."

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Galveston Texas
    Posts
    530
    again you must talk with your local building inspector, a licensed contractor (both hvac and/or electrical) will be able to answer this.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Cincinnati, Oh
    Posts
    4,656
    Wow. You must really hate your disconnect box.

    "few feet away, on the same wall." Is this outside? If so, by rule, that may be deemable as the disconnect.

    Example:
    A furnace in nice open basement, with the panel reletive close to the furnace, and with a clear line of sight from the panel to the furnace, does not require any type of disconnect, because the correctly marked breaker IS the form of disconnect.

    Again. That MAY be deemable as disconnect with your condenser. All municipalities are different. All inspectors within that municipality are different. Along with every house being different.

    Whats your HVAC guy have to say about it?
    "Better tell the sandman to stay away, because we're gonna be workin on this one all night."

    "Dude, you need more than 2 wires to a condenser to run a 2 stage heatpump."

    "Just get it done son."

    Dad adjusted

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Posts
    151
    Quote Originally Posted by hvacvegas View Post
    "few feet away, on the same wall." Is this outside? If so, by rule, that may be deemable as the disconnect.
    Yes it's outside, and the main panel is only about 10 feet from the condenser. I think you're right, according to NEC the breaker in the main panel IS the disconnect.

    So would it be safe to say that my Square D HVAC disconnect switch is immune to 110.26 working space (since I'm 10 inches short) by two rules: 1. it has an upstream breaker and it's not fused, so it's not likely to be energized during servicing, and 2. the breaker qualifies as the disconnect in any case. ?

    The HVAC guys didn't come out yet - I'm trying to get a plan done for the arrangement of everything how I want it, before they come out..

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Athens GA
    Posts
    1,234
    It doesn't matter if you agree or disagree with an interpertation.
    Call the code office and find out how they read it.
    Its a lot easier to make a phone call that will last 3 minutes than to have to make another appointment for the installer to come out and "fix" something.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    1,291
    You should be ok. I wouldnt bring the point to the inspectors attention as they dont really know sheet. There's gotta be a 30x36" working space, the conduit needs to be secured every 3ft., and the disconnect shouldn't be over 6'7" above the ground

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Posts
    151
    Quote Originally Posted by ZeroTolerance View Post
    I wouldnt bring the point to the inspectors attention as they dont really know sheet.
    That's been my observation so far about the local inspector on other projects and he tends to be on the lenient side. My plan is to 1. not bring it to anyone's attention, 2. to argue the NEC interpretation as per my original post, 3. if the inspector insists that it's wrong then I'll tell him I'll re-solder the pipes to the water softener and move the water softener 10 inches.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    1,291
    We just did a huge build out for samsung. The main work was electrical. We had disconnects within 30" from chiller lines we didnt get red tagged. And these were electrical inspectors not some dumb residential general inspectors

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    1,291
    Btw working space really only concerns big objects being in the way such as walls and other machinery. Objects that will inhibit you from "working on" or servicing equipment

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Central Texas
    Posts
    67
    Quote Originally Posted by REP View Post
    It doesn't matter if you agree or disagree with an interpertation.
    Call the code office and find out how they read it.
    Its a lot easier to make a phone call that will last 3 minutes than to have to make another appointment for the installer to come out and "fix" something.
    This is probably the best route to go. We got lucky in our area as the majority of our inspectors tend to be flexible when it comes to pre-existing issues on site.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    S.E. Pa
    Posts
    6,050

    Exclamation

    Whether or not "equipment" has a disconnect upstream or not is immaterial to this section. In fact, ALL "equipment" under this section should have some means of d/c upstream. The fact remains that air conditioner condenser disconnects as well as the condenser itself fall under this requirement. Whether or not an AHJ elects to enfore it or not is immaterial. Besides, NO AHJ has the authority to diminish the code. Regardless if an AHJ calls something out or not during his inspection, the LAW will hold you to the code. That means your condenser disconnect must be within sight and within 50ft. BTW, you also must have a 120 vac. GFCI service outlet within 25 feet of any "equipment". Indoors, it must also have a service light switched at the entrance to the space.

    Note that if you have >600 volts, the space required increases above 36". You also should wear your prescribed PPE and Tag Out/ Lock Out as required.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Posts
    151
    Quote Originally Posted by hearthman View Post
    Whether or not "equipment" has a disconnect upstream or not is immaterial to this section. In fact, ALL "equipment" under this section should have some means of d/c upstream. The fact remains that air conditioner condenser disconnects as well as the condenser itself fall under this requirement..
    Hearthman, based on all of the expert articles, NEC 110.26 only applies to equipment that is likely to be energized during servicing. Would you work on an energized non-fused disconnect when the breaker is in the main panel just 10 feet away from it? That would seem like a silly thing to do.

    On the other hand, I could imagine someone working on an energized subpanel, for example replacing a breaker while the panel is hot, because it might contain other critical circuits like the resident's medical equipment that should stay on during servicing. Therefore 110.26 applies to the subpanel despite having an upstream disconnect in the main panel.

    This is just my own logic connecting the dots. Where am I not seeing it the same way as your strict interpretation? Inspectors will probably be all over the map in their views on this because 110.26 appears to be a bit subjective as far as what's likely to be energized during servicing. I have a feeling that conservative inspectors may just crack down on this in a strict way just to protect their az but not necessarily being correct about it.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lancaster PA
    Posts
    66,765
    Its common for a tech to check to see if the lugs are tight in a disconnect while it is energized. No matter how close or far a way the panel box may be. You need 30" of clearance.
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