ACHRNEWS

Contractors Discuss Code Changes

May 21, 2004
John Sedine points out some changes to the new Michigan codes.
NOVI, Mich. - Changes to the 2003 Michigan mechanical code books was a much-discussed topic among the contractors who attended the recent annual meeting of the Michigan chapter of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (MIACCA).

Phil Forner of Allendale Heating Co., Allendale, Mich., and John Sedine of Engineering Heating & Cooling, Walker, Mich., chaired a seminar on this very topic. It got the attendees talking.

Sedine pointed out that there are three different code books for commercial work and an additional book for residential work.

He gave the example of the International Code (IC), which is altered by Michigan officials to conform to situations within the state. He added that the annual spring IC council meeting in Nashville last year "produced about 90 proposed changes to the IC."

Sedine noted that Michigan sends out technical bulletins regarding code changes and keeps updating them throughout the year. He talked about one change, which was prompted by an inspector who didn't like climbing ladders to inspect rooftop units.

"The inspector said that non-permanent ladders were a safety hazard to inspectors," said Sedine. "Now permanent ladders need to be installed to allow access to rooftops."

Forner said that contractors should not take changes like this lightly. "If you don't have provisions for a ladder installation, you can be sued since you are the permit holder," Forner told the audience.

Phil Forner said that Michigan contractors should not take changes in the state code books lightly.

Recent Changes

Sedine highlighted some other changes in the state of Michigan mechanical codes.

  • There must be an electrical disconnect switch immediately adjacent to equipment. This has always been a part of the electrical code, "but now we are responsible for the installation," said Sedine, adding, "But ‘immediately adjacent' isn't always clear. It can be open to interpretation."

  • Michigan contractors need to pull a permit for installing a PTAC unit if it contains a gas-heating unit.

  • High wind provisions of the code may require additional tiedowns for rooftop units.

  • There are new requirements for installation of fuel cells.

  • There are new rules regarding installing equipment in flood plain areas. In short, the equipment needs to be elevated.

  • There are changes regarding clearances and passageways around boilers.

  • There are changes to kitchen ventilation rules.

  • The "rehab" code book explains different levels of alteration outside of regular repairs. Historic buildings may require the installation of mechanical ventilation.

    Both Sedine and Forner had some words of advice for attendees. "Take a Manual D class or read the book about duct location and sizing," said Sedine, noting that inspectors will ask if a duct project was done according to Manual D specifications.

    "Read instructions when installing new products and make sure they are listed for the correct use. If you are getting conflicting requirements [for installation], adhere to the most restrictive ones."

    Stated Forner, "You can debate terms like ‘accessible' versus ‘readily accessible' for hours because everyone's interpretation is different. There is a definition section in the code books that helps define these terms.

    "A lot of times we don't make inspectors toe the line and we feel that the appeal process is a big hassle. Don't argue with them, but be knowledgeable."

    Publication date: 05/24/2004