WORKING WITH INSPECTORS
We recently went on a job in Ft Lauderdale to install the wiring for a new mini split air conditioner. These units have a small heat pump unit on the outside and a wall mounted air handler on the inside. These units are very efficient and only use a small amount of power. We were told by the air conditioning contractor that we needed to install a disconnect switch for the inside unit so that a service technician could disconnect the power to service the unit. This is new to us because the outside disconnect would disconnect both units when they were being serviced.
After checking with the inspector in Fort Lauderdale we were told that the switch was not required for these installations in their City. The air conditioning contractor told me that he was required to install them on other jobs in other Cities and thought all Cities were requiring the switches.
We are preparing to start another mini split install in Wilton Manors which is requiring the disconnect switch to be shown on the plans. In this case we know that in this City we will need to install the switch. We feel that eventually the inspectors will get together on whether the switch is needed and all Cities will enforce the mini splits the same way. If a switch is required, for appearance sake, the switch does not need to sit next to the unit. It can be installed anywhere in the area as long as it is within sight of the unit. The circuit breaker could also act as a disconnect switch as long as it is within sight of the unit and identified as the air conditioner disconnect.
On another job, we were on an outside service change in Oakland Park and on our electrical inspection the inspector requested that the owner remove a cabinet that was mounted over the inside electrical panel and upgrade the range outlet to a 4- wire device and replace the range cord. In this case, the inspector was correct in noticing some work that should be done, but he cannot require upgrades on this inspection unless we did work in these areas. With the exception of installing smoke detectors, the inspector can only inspect the permitted work.
As you can see, many Cities do not agree on how to interpret the wording in the different codes. When hiring a contractor it may be wise to hire someone who has experience working in your City
Al is a State Licensed Electrical Contractor and owner of Al Siefert Electric. The articles he writes are about items of interest and questions from his customers. Please call Al if you have questions concerning electric service, installation and repair.
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