Is the furnace a fixed appliance? Isn’t it designed not to be moved around from place to place? If you think it is, then the building code says we have to secure that appliance so that it can’t move around by nature or someone bumping into it. That’s coming up on Code Corner today. If this is your first time watching our channel, please click subscribe down here on the bottom right, and if you click that little bell right next to it, you’ll be notified of all our videos as soon as they come out. Don’t forget to get your official Fox Family merch available on Teespring.com down below this video. If you’ve ever wanted Fox Family swag, here’s your chance to grab the same stuff we wear on the job out in the field! Now I’m not here to pretend I know or could even interpret all the codes correctly.
In this series of videos, I’m simply trying to open a conversation about codes we cite on the job every day out there without even knowing it. But where is that code in the book? That’s what this project is all about. Ultimately, these videos are for my technicians at Fox Family but if they help you, then that’s great! And good for you for even caring about the building codes enough to watch this video. It means you care about your work too! So let’s take a look at what the codes say about existing buildings and adherence to the code when doing an HVAC change-out. Did you know we’re supposed to secure our HVAC equipment in manner so they can’t shift places or be moved around. The International Mechanical Code says in 301.18 Seismic Resistance, where earthquake loads are applicable, mechanical system supports shall be designed and installed for the seismic forces. The California Mechanical Code says in 303.4 Anchorage of Appliances, Appliance designed to be fixed in position shall be securely fastened in place in accordance with the manufacturer’s installation instructions.
Supports for appliance shall be designed and constructed to sustain vertical and horizontal loads within the stress limitations specified in the building code. The first part of this argument is whether the furnace or air conditioner is an appliance designed to be fixed in position. I say yes, it is designed to be fixed in position because of the high voltage, low voltage, gas piping, condensate drainage, refrigerant lines, and ductwork that all lead to this one specific location in the attic, and where else are we going to put it? Are we moving this thing in five years or something? Even then, I think it’s still designed to be fixed in position until relocation occurs. We recently moved a furnace on a remodel about four feet to the left into a new closet. The gas, high and low voltage, flue pipe, condensate, refrigerant lines, and ductwork all had to be modified to make the relocation happen. So, projects like this do occur, but in my mind the furnace and AC were still meant to be in one location for the life of the system. What do you guys think about this.
Is the furnace designed to be fixed in position to you? Let us know in the comments below! Okay this is for you guys who, like me upon hearing this code, scoffed at the idea of an earthquake hitting this area. I think, in my mind, I meant an earthquake couldn’t hit this area. It’s in this low-lying area in the center of the Sacramento Valley. And there are no faults around here anyways. They’re all in the bay area. I guess 1/5th of America experiences earthquakes throughout the year that average anywhere from a 4.2 to 6.7 in magnitude. This prompted the code to adapt this section regarding anchorage of appliances. The goal is to prevent the equipment from moving around in case it gets bumped into or seismic activity. So, what do we have to do in order to comply with this rule? The code inspectors, when we started getting called on that around here, told us to “secure the furnace to the platform for seismic reasons.” There are over 500 active faults in California. The chance that a magnitude 6.7 earthquake or greater will hit in the next 30 years, is greater than 99%.
They also say most Californians live within 30 miles of an active fault line. To the north of Sacramento, the Cleveland Hill fault around Lake Oroville last shifted 43 years ago. It’s 5.7 magnitude cracked walls and plaster in homes around the area. Even the State Capital downtown had minor damage to the dome. And Oroville is 60 miles away! To the west of us, the Hayward Fault in the Bay Area shook Berkley with a 4.4 magnitude earthquake just last year. And no one needs to be reminded of the San Andreas fault that runs through San Francisco. These two faults are the biggest threats right now to the Bay Area. The San Joaquin region to the south of us has its own active fault lines. And, finally, the Sierra Nevadas to the east of us were literally shaped by repeated earthquakes on fault lines all over that region. The Sierras have fault lines along the crest that run right through Lake Tahoe.
Like, in Sacramento, 65 miles away, we didn’t feel that 4.4 magnitude that hit Berkley last year. But experts say if a big 6 or 7 magnitude hit the east bay, we could very easily feel it. Or not! It depends on the type of earthquake it turns out to be. So, what exactly are we supposed to do to secure the furnace or the air conditioner so that it wont move during seismic activity? It’s pretty simple. We just need to make sure to use some sort of metal strapping secured to the unit and then to the base it’s sitting on, like the platform you’re servicing from. On the furnace, we can take some 1 ½” wide metal duct strap, or even plumbers’ tape and secure it to the furnace and to the floor it is sitting on. In a closet or garage we will take some strap and secure it to the furnace and to the walls next to it.
But make sure you hit a stud with that, because a screw through just sheetrock only, won’t cut it. Realistically, here in Sacramento, I think we should label ourselves as very unlikely to be affected by an earthquake. But we do service a wide region here at Fox Family, so the farther out from Sacramento we go, the greater the chance of those homeowners experiencing the affects of seismic activity. Therefore, we will continue to strap the units down to the decking in the attic and securing our AC to the pad it sits on to prevent shifting. Well, I hope this clarifies the part of the mechanical code that talks about why we need to strap our units to the ground.
It may not come across as clear as other parts of the code, but it’s legit, and if the inspector writes you up for it, now you know why. Well, If this is your first time watching our channel, please click subscribe down here on the bottom right, and if you click that little bell right next to it, you’ll be notified of all our videos as soon as they come out. Don’t forget to get your official Fox Family merch available on Teespring.com down below this video. If you’ve ever wanted Fox Family swag, here’s your chance to grab the same stuff we wear on the job out in the field! Thanks so much and we’ll see you on the next video! .