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condenser pad


John Dirks Jr
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Check out these condenser pads. They are quite flimsy and hollow underneath. They are already at grade level. I know this should be better.

In general, what do manufacturers recommend for equipment pads?

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I worked for a heating/cooling company that used those. I personally don't like them because they are hard to level and it is likely they will not stay level.

Unless they are heat pumps, I don't see anything negative that can come from this (even though I would have done it different).

If anyone has information about the 3" from an installation book, I would like to see it.

When it comes to equipment pads, I've seen some that have completely failed before the end of the life of the air conditioning unit. I think common sense plays a role when it comes to what pad to use (some cooling companies don't use).

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TIJ is a great resource, but don't let it make you lazy. You can look the answer to your question up on the manufacturer's websites pretty easily. The pad in your picture doesn't look any worse than the ones under most condensers I see. As long as the soil beneath them is solid, they're fine.

Yes, I understand your point Jim. I do in fact google many things and wind up at manufacturer's site to find information. I have references from books on the desk too which I use.

I also like to ask questions here. I think it benefits everyone, and the site as a whole by creating dialog. After all, the browser title above includes the words resources and education.

With the help of dialog here, I did not question the material in the report. I did recommend that the pads be raised a few inches. I stated it could help keep the coils cleaned by having less splatter of soil clogging the fins. How's that for a dream? I think it makes sense. I depend on sense quite a bit.

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Darren

I know the IRC says a heat pump should be three inches above grade. Do you have something that says an air conditioner should be three inches above grade?

Jeff Euriech

Peoria Arizona

That's for drainage during the defrost cycle.

Kentucky is the further south that I had worked on Heat pumps. When it comes to Florida, Mississippi, areas like that, is elevating the heat pumps required? The only reason I can remember to elevate heat pumps is so when the frost/ice melts from the outside unit, that water has a place to drain without reforming ice on the unit. Down South, I wouldn't think that would be an issue.

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Darren

I know the IRC says a heat pump should be three inches above grade. Do you have something that says an air conditioner should be three inches above grade?

Jeff Euriech

Peoria Arizona

That's for drainage during the defrost cycle.

Kentucky is the further south that I had worked on Heat pumps. When it comes to Florida, Mississippi, areas like that, is elevating the heat pumps required? The only reason I can remember to elevate heat pumps is so when the frost/ice melts from the outside unit, that water has a place to drain without reforming ice on the unit. Down South, I wouldn't think that would be an issue.

We have to be cautious about rationalizing codes. I recently heard a partisan window expert in AZ testify that "windows do not require any flashing's". his rational is that "it never rains that hard in AZ". When asked if roofs required flashing's he responded "yes because of rain". His statements are wrong because water is always wet regardless of where it is.

The purpose of raising the condenser in my opinion is to increase air flow around the coils, and raise the metal parts out of potential standing water. Their may even be more reasons to raise the unit that I am not aware of.

Whenever I have seen someone rationalize codes and do creative things it is significantly more likely to create an undetermined problem.

I agree that these types of pads are less likely to stay where you put them, but I can also see the contractors side when he no longer has to carry precast pads that weigh allot more than the plastic pads.

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The purpose of raising the condenser in my opinion is to increase air flow around the coils, and raise the metal parts out of potential standing water. Their may even be more reasons to raise the unit that I am not aware of.

Raising the condenser has no baring on air flow. Proper clearance around and above are the only factors. There is no reason to raise the condensing unit except for drainage (more important for heat pumps).

Whenever I have seen someone rationalize codes and do creative things it is significantly more likely to create an undetermined problem.

Code and field experience can be two different things. I can't believe that most of the home inspectors here that use to be in the trades haven't done something that was not up to code but knew what they did would be fine. Your right, we do have to be cautious.

I agree that these types of pads are less likely to stay where you put them, but I can also see the contractors side when he no longer has to carry precast pads that weigh allot more than the plastic pads.

There are plenty of options to choose from. Going from one extreme to another (referring to weight) is normally not a good choice. While these plastic pads might be the only choice the cooling company had to choose from in that area (besides the precast pads), there are many different types of pads that are manufactured.

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How about this pad? It is a beautiful concrete slab and the units are heat pumps. Actually, this photo is showing a few things, but the pad is what I wanted to show.

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Let me know what I'm right and wrong about.

1. No legs under the heat pumps

2. Units are sharing the same disconnect/breaker? That's hard to believe.

3. Cement slab has good drainage but it's sloped the wrong way (likely settled).

4. I'm not sure about the clearance on the far unit between the unit and the fence.

5. I would have done something different with the termination of the drain line.

Does this house have electric or gas back-up heat? Electric was popular around the Bowling Green, Kentucky area. Some gas back-up.

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Yes, I understand your point Jim. I do in fact google many things and wind up at manufacturer's site to find information. I have references from books on the desk too which I use.

I also like to ask questions here. I think it benefits everyone, and the site as a whole by creating dialog. After all, the browser title above includes the words resources and education.

With the help of dialog here, I did not question the material in the report. I did recommend that the pads be raised a few inches. I stated it could help keep the coils cleaned by having less splatter of soil clogging the fins. How's that for a dream? I think it makes sense. I depend on sense quite a bit.

John,

Your original question was: What do manufacturers recommend for pads. The best source for that info is the manufacturers themselves, no?

I'm all for dialogue, but I'm even more for facts. You say you put something in a report about raising the pads to keep the coils on the condensers cleaner. You made that up. Maybe it's harmless, maybe it made sense to you, maybe it's easier than doing research, but it's incorrect. That's not why condensers are raised, and it doesn't really keep them any cleaner.

I learned a long time ago, -and frequently get reminded- that home inspectors earn themselves lawsuits (at worst), and bad reputations (at best) when they make stuff up. We have to know our jobs well enough to back our statements up, and while TIJ has been a big part of that for me, I'd submit that nothing is more important than your own personal research.

I'd also submit that the usefulness of dialogue is very limited. For example: Just because everyone who logs into TIJ on a particular day thinks it's OK to install 3 tab shingles over 15# felt on a 2:12 roof pitch, doesn't mean it's a good idea. Our dialogue leans heavily toward the subjective. Actual research is objective, and generally much more useful....and accurate. You have to know your facts before you can accurately judge the merit of the opinions you read here.

Even though he's about the smartest human you'll ever meet, you'd better have something better than 'I think I remember Jim Katen posting on TIJ...." if you're ever unlucky enough to find yourself in a deposition.

Don't be discouraged; keep up the questions; but do your homework, too. After a while, you'll find yourself answering more questions than you ask.

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Darren

I know the IRC says a heat pump should be three inches above grade. Do you have something that says an air conditioner should be three inches above grade?

Jeff Euriech

Peoria Arizona

I guess it depends on how you read the code book. This is my take on it:

A condenser is a mechanical system.

In NJ 2006 IRC

M1308.3 Foundations and supports,

Foundations and supports for outdoor mechanical systems shall be raised at least 3 inches (76mm) above the finished grade, and shall also conform to the manufactures installation instructions.

So, even if the manufacture doesn't say it needs to be elevated, the word AND after 'finished grade' tells me it's required.

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[i guess it depends on how you read the code book. This is my take on it:

A condenser is a mechanical system.

In NJ 2006 IRC

M1308.3 Foundations and supports,

Foundations and supports for outdoor mechanical systems shall be raised at least 3 inches (76mm) above the finished grade, and shall also conform to the manufactures installation instructions.

So, even if the manufacture doesn't say it needs to be elevated, the word AND after 'finished grade' tells me it's required.

In my NJ experience, no code official has ever required that for an air conditioning condenser. Regarding M1308.3, outdoor "mechanical systems" has always referred to package units.

For NJ, read Chapter 14, Heating and Cooling Equipment.

M1401.4 Exterior installations makes no mention of the 3" above the ground.

M1403.2, under Heat Pump Equipment, states "the outdoor unit of a heat pump shall be raised at least 3" above the ground to permit free drainage of defrost water".

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In my NJ experience, no code official has ever required that for an air conditioning condenser.

Same here. Beside NJ as you just mentioned, it also covers Northwest Indiana, Southeast Wisconsin and part of Central Kentucky. I would never call it out unless I could see something negative about it.

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In my NJ experience, no code official has ever required that for an air conditioning condenser. Regarding M1308.3, outdoor "mechanical systems" has always referred to package units.

For NJ, read Chapter 14, Heating and Cooling Equipment.

M1401.4 Exterior installations makes no mention of the 3" above the ground.

M1403.2, under Heat Pump Equipment, states "the outdoor unit of a heat pump shall be raised at least 3" above the ground to permit free drainage of defrost water".

Funny, In my NJ experience, MOST code officials hardly ever required weep holes & flashing in bricks; does that make it OK?

Where does it say M1308.3 is referring to a packaged unit? Are we to assume that?

Chapter 13 is General Mechanical Requirements.- M1308.1 refers to drilling and notching; is that for a packaged unit also?

Like I said, it depends on how you read the code book.

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Why not just tell the customers what the manufacturer and/or code books say? Disclosure's done, HI has done his part.

Oh, and this: "It is possible to make things up that are valid."

Uh, no. Logical black hole. And, while I'm thinking about it: grammar/syntax alert. Not just for the above quote, but for much of this thread.

WJ

I admit I've been asking for it. Being flip in here will probably help me more than hurt me. Being flip out there is something I want to avoid, so thanks, really.

I told them to raise the pad but maybe for the wrong reason. They wont flinch at it because they have much bigger things to worry about.

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Soil splatter clogging coil fins. If it were raised more it would still get some dirt in it, but not as much.

It is possible to make things up that are valid.

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Friend,

That's not valid, you got lucky. If all our clients want is a reportful of lucky guesses, they can make those all by themselves. I get paid to ferret out the facts. Making things up is a common, dangerous, and weak-ass HI practice, we'd all do well to drop.

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How about this pad? It is a beautiful concrete slab and the units are heat pumps. Actually, this photo is showing a few things, but the pad is what I wanted to show.

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Let me know what I'm right and wrong about.

1. No legs under the heat pumps

Built into the base of the unit

2. Units are sharing the same disconnect/breaker? That's hard to believe.

Nope, each had their own breaker

3. Cement slab has good drainage but it's sloped the wrong way (likely settled).

Nope, it is sloped away from the house

4. I'm not sure about the clearance on the far unit between the unit and the fence.

The fence clearance was an issue. Only eight inch clearance on the far side.

5. I would have done something different with the termination of the drain line.

OK

Does this house have electric or gas back-up heat? Electric was popular around the Bowling Green, Kentucky area. Some gas back-up.

Electric supplemental heat

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