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Reversed AC EVAPORATOR coil's installed in the attic
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Glen Davis CBO, MCP
Mueller Community

Posts: 17
Joined on June 19th, 2009
Reversed AC EVAPORATOR coil's installed in the attic
by Glen Davis CBO, MCP on July 26th, 2010

Hello folks,

This is an issue that some of you are aware of but I suspect many of you are not. I recently received an e-mail back from a client with a reversed AC evaporator unit and the preliminary feedback is that the warranty rep appears to have told my client this was done purposefully by the HVAC contractor for reasons that make absolutely no sense other than to avoid having to get up in the small attic areas and tear out the equipment and reinstall it as it should have been originally.

I placed a call this morning to the HVAC contractor supervisor requesting him to call me back and explain this logic and have yet to receive any response. After I speak with him ( assuming he calls me back ) I will be happy to update this post.

It's interesting to note that as they say it is done purposeful, you'll also find in some of the floor plans where there are two systems , one of the units are reversed and the other is not which defeats any logic they offer.

This is not rocket science. As a Mechanical Code Official ( certified as a residential and commercial HVAC inspector and HVAC plans examiner ) there is nothing that supports installing
the equipment reversed in a situation where the access cannot be provided. The issue is specifically about the lack of being able to access the control side of the equipment for basic servicing or evaluation of electrical malfunctions.

In contrast, the residential electrical and mechanical code specifically require a support platform access to be provided in front of the control side of the equipment. The builders respond " it was approved by the city inspector and therefore must be code compliant". The reality is the city inspector never entered the attic and never recognized the situation. Nonetheless, it remains non-compliant with the code irrespective of the city signing off.

When the two-year warranties begin to run out and the homeowners begin to go to third-party HVAC contractors for basic repairs, these issues are going to come home to roost in a very unpleasant way when the third-party contractors inform you they are going to have to completely disconnect all of the equipment and ducting plenums in order to simply check basic things like electrical connections, evaporator coil, fan speed settings and basic things that are located in that compartment that can never be accessed.

The repair bills will be extremely expensive and all due to the fact that the HVAC contractor did not install the equipment compliant with the residential code.

I would urge each of the homeowners to take a look at their equipment to see if they are faced with a similar situation. Review the attached photo and you will see an example photo showing the primary PVC lines and refrigerant line sets entering the front of the evaporator compartment ( correct install ). If you cannot see this on the side of your equipment that faces the plywood service platform, you likely have a reversed unit.

Please feel free to call me and I will guide you verbally in order to avoid the expense of having me come out. If this is something that affects you, I would strongly urge you to fight tooth and nail even to the extent of contacting the residential inspection department at the City of Austin. In my professional opinion, the primary failure rests entirely at their feet followed closely by the HVAC contractor not following code compliance requirements.

Normally I would have given you a direct contact name for the chief inspector but at this time the city is currently interviewing for a new chief. I don't know who is assuming that temporary role. I will also warn you the city may likely be the first to disclaim any liability and defer this right back to the builder.

This situation will not get corrected until enough homeowner's are educated and stand united in getting these issues corrected as they should be.


Best regards and best of luck to you,

Glen Davis CBO, MCP



 
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Glen Davis CBO, MCP
Mueller Community

Posts: 17
Joined on June 19th, 2009
Reversed AC EVAPORATOR coil's installed in the attic
by Glen Davis CBO, MCP on July 26th, 2010

Clarification :

I received a Pm asking if this was directed at any specific builder and the answer is NO. It was placed under the Meritage forum only because that was the most recent post of AC issues and I do not know how to create a new forum.

So we are clear, In my experience this has occurred with more than one builder and is not specific to any one builder. The only thing in common is the answer builders have given clients.

If the HVAC contractor does return the call and explain their theory, I will be happy to state their company name and their response regarding this specific example home.

Otherwise, it is my policy not to implicate any particular builder unless there is irrefutable proof as was the case with the non-compliant soffit venting some time back.

Regards,
Glen Davis Inspector

 
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Glen Davis CBO, MCP
Mueller Community

Posts: 17
Joined on June 19th, 2009
Reversed AC EVAPORATOR coil's installed in the attic
by Glen Davis CBO, MCP on August 2nd, 2010

I have update information that I will try and post in the next day or so that will shed some light on this particular issue.

Best regards,
Glen Davis Inspector
 
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Glen Davis CBO, MCP
Mueller Community

Posts: 17
Joined on June 19th, 2009
Reversed AC EVAPORATOR coil's installed in the attic
by Glen Davis CBO, MCP on August 3rd, 2010

Hello,

Background :

I've spoken with the previous chief residential inspector and one of the managers at Austin energy and neither of them were aware of the situation and we are all in agreement the flipping of the evaporators is going to be a nightmare for servicing, and could easily be construed as noncompliant with the access sections of the code. Many of the units don't have correct service platform depth in the first place and that is not disputable.

We are also in agreement that the access issues are not the fault of the HVAC contractor but of the design professionals in not providing adequate vertical height for the HVAC contractors to properly locate their equipment on many of the homes. Please bear in mind this is not an issue on all homes nor all builders. It is truly dependent on the roof line and where the equipment was placed.

I also placed a call to one of the managers at CASA and we had a very informative and cordial phone call. Mr. Gurino ( I hope I spelled it correctly ) explained that the reversal on the evaporator compartment was due to an issue on specific Carrier units that were slinging excessive amounts of water towards the supply plenum which would saturate them and potentially subject them to mold. They contacted the manufacturer and they were instructed to reverse the units and told the units were designed to be reversed if need be and this would prevent the slinging of the water. Apparently, this particular fix around has been working but as already discussed, it is my opinion they're going to be extremely difficult to service. CASA disagrees with me and stated that their policy would be that if any servicing needed to be done while under warranty or after warranty, that they would remove the evaporator compartment entirely regardless of positioning. The supervisor told me the approximate cost would be in the $350 range ( which does not include any parts etc that may be needed for repair ).

I've also spoken with numerous AC contractors, other credentialed inspectors, a few mechanical engineers and we are all in agreement ( with only minor variances ) there other questions that needed to be answered which include (1) why were the evaporators slinging water in the first place and why do models prior to and after that particular model not have the problem (2) why were the evaporator's not switched out (3) why were the evaporators not provided with a sling shield that are used by some other manufacturers.

In addition to these unanswered questions, the consensus on the HVAC contractor side was of significant disagreement with the CASA protocol for tearing out the entire compartment to simply do a visual service evaluation into the coil compartment to check for icing or rusting. Most HVAC contractors also stated due to the extreme low height and access conditions and difficulties in reattaching all of the piping and ducting seals that their tear out and re-installation for labor alone could easily be double the fees quoted by CASA.

So we are clear, the intent of this entire thread is not to alarm nor point any specific fingers. The intent was to educate not only myself but the homeowners in the community. There has been a tremendous amount of misinformation with this topic, other AC issues, property set back and fire protection issues including attic ventilation issues that continue to be propagated. It's easier in the end for me to reach the community with information this way rather than having to explain one of these situations every time I go out.

In condensing this ( pardon the pun ) , I want to reiterate Mr. Gurino from CASA has assured me that they had the blessing of Carrier and assuming that to be the case, we as inspectors have no issue with it so long as the basic accessibility requirements of the codes are met, which in site-specific cases are not being met. Mr. Gurino also assured me that the reversal would have no impact on system performance and that they stand behind their work and warranty.

What net effect the evaporator coil compartment reversals will have from here on out to the affected homeowners will only be determined when the warrantees run out and third-party HVAC contractors begin performing repairs in the community.

It remains my professional opinion that these specific systems will be extremely challenging and costly to work on and they possibly could have been avoided had other options been explored and/or implemented to the fullest extent.

Best Regards,

Glen Davis Inspector
 
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cespurgeon
Mueller Community

Posts: 22
Joined on August 2nd, 2008
Reversed AC EVAPORATOR coil's installed in the attic
by cespurgeon on July 28th, 2011

I have a Standard Pacific house with a reversed evaporator, and our experience has been exactly as predicted: difficulty of repair due to lack of access to the components that are likely to fail.

In our case the expansion valve next to the evaporator in the attic failed, causing the AC to slowly lose performance for several days. We called it in to Casa Mechanical on a Thursday and they sent someone out late Friday aft. Since the evaporator was reversed, the tech could not fix the problem because he couldn't reach the failing component. We had to wait over a hot weekend before a two-man crew came out to disassemble the AC in the attic, removing the evaporator box so that they could replace the expansion valve.

I requested that the evaporator be re-installed in the correct (un-reversed) orientation, but a Casa engineer confirmed that the Carrier evaporator rated for 5 ton capacity had issues with slinging water into the duct, resulting in mold.

Based on that info, Casa re-installed the evaporator in the reversed orientation. When I inspected the job, I noticed that they had not sealed the joints adequately (duct tape had been used and was already falling off), and I requested another visit to get the joints sealed.

A tech showed up and slapped some mastic on top of some of the duct tape, while leaving the hard-to-reach areas untouched. Since then the duct tape has come loose from the evaporator case, leading to repeated cool air leaks all around the evaporator seams.

This is not how air conditioning professionals seal joints on duct work, and Casa Mechanical's work on this unit would receive a failing grade in any tech school AC shop class.
 
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cespurgeon
Mueller Community

Posts: 22
Joined on August 2nd, 2008
Reversed AC EVAPORATOR coil's installed in the attic
by cespurgeon on July 13th, 2013

As a followup to my previous posting on this thread, the evaporator coil in my house began to leak and needed to be replaced in July, 2013. What should have been a simple removal of the old coil became a major job, requiring two technicians and the complete removal of the evaporator case to access the coil.

The AC techs involved in replacing the evaporator coil were NATE certified (http://www.hvacradvice.com/) from a Carrier factory authorized company with years of experience. When I gave them Casa Mechanical's explanation as to why the evaporator had been installed backwards, they said "total BS." I was told that there are no issues with water slinging on properly installed 5 ton evaporators. Also, the unit in my house is a 4 ton evaporator, despite Casa's statement that it was a 5 ton unit that had been oversized for energy efficiency purposes.

Because of Casa's backwards installation, the coil repair took two guys roughly five hours, since they and I both wanted the new evaporator to be installed correctly. To do that, they had to disconnect and remove the old evaporator box, re-route the coolant pipes and condensate drain pipes, and then install a new evaporator box, connect it all up, and get it all working again. A lot of work in a small attic space, and it wasn't cheap.

However, the new evaporator is now installed correctly, with the coolant pipes and access ports correctly oriented to the accessible side of the attic. Should any work need to be done in the future, no one will have to dismantle and then re-install the AC unit in the attic to reach the parts involved.

 
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Domenica McKenzie


Posts: 1
Joined on May 12th, 2020
Reversed AC EVAPORATOR coil's installed in the attic
by Domenica McKenzie on August 19th, 2020

Two years ago, when I was constructing my house, I installed Reversed AC Evaporator in its attic. It is easy to visit https://www.essaysoriginreview.com/ website for help in research paper. Now it has started bothering me. The firm which I have contacted to repair is asking me to reinstall it which is not possible for me. I do not know what to do.
 
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