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AC compressor on steep hill

2 months ago

Apparently this was just installed the other day. They said this was the right place for it, but It looks a little precarious to me. You can’t really tell how steep the drop is, because the lawn guy hasn’t cut the grass yet. I’m a little concerned that he’ll hit it with the big lawnmower he rides, and the entire thing will become dislodged. It looks like I might have to hire someone to create a raised flower bed /built-in platform system so it’s less vulnerable. I wonder how easy that’ll be with the compressor in place though. What, if anything would you suggest?

Comments (33)

  • 2 months ago

    IDIOTS ! That is what comes to mind when I wonder why anyone would do that. One solution is to build concrete walls as close as possable then fill with stone similar to that presently beneath pad. Walls need to extend below grade and have drainage holes at lower side. The encloser will have to be twice as large as a proper concrete pad constructed BEFORE ac was sat on that pile of stone.

  • last month

    You need to get them back immediately to put that condenser on a secure footing. That install definitely wasn't inspected or permitted!

  • last month

    Is it possible that the black pad is actually secured to the ground and not just resting on a pile of rocks? One would think that the vibration of the AC unit alone could cause the rocks to shift, sending the pad and heavy AC unit sliding down the hill.

  • last month

    "One would think that the vibration of the AC unit alone could cause the rocks to shift, sending the pad and heavy AC unit sliding down the hill."

    BINGO!!!

  • last month

    They probably should have used a wall bracket to mount it here.

  • last month

    Thanks. My contractor says they’ll take a look at it today. Hopefully they’ll have a good solution.

  • last month

    Another way of solving this problem is to mount the condenser on a wall bracket. There are wall brackets designed for purpose. This could work well with your house foundation. This will mean removing the condenser, installing the bracket, and reconnecting the connections. Your contractor will likely want to be paid for the additional materials and labor.

  • last month

    I mentioned it, and apparently the AC guy returned to shore up the stones. We shall see if it holds I guess.

  • last month

    Wd, I agree. It’s also an awkward place for me to put any kind of little removable fence around it. If I even touch the stones they could move, and they could blame me, or even the cat next door. It still strikes me as precarious, and a problem waiting to develop. I can maybe run the idea by them of attaching it to a foundation hanger, and see what they say.

  • last month

    That is not satisfactory or safe. Tell them it's unacceptable - if they won't do anything about it, contact your local trade licensing office and file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.

  • last month
    last modified: last month

    Did this require a building permit? If so, perhaps you could request an inspection of the work. If a building permit was required and the installer didn't get one, he'd be in trouble. But in either case, it's a route to getting it fixed.

  • last month

    Uh, that that’s still a ”No” on their fix.

  • last month

    Ours are up on small decks.



  • last month

    It will be 10x more trouble than had it been done right before installing condenser.

  • last month

    What is the loop of wire behind the condenser? That does not look secure. Where is the service disconnect fuse box? Isn't there a code requirement that it needs to be nearby and within sight of the condenser?

  • last month
    last modified: last month

    Excellent point mike. Amongst other issues there's no disconnect withing reach of condenser. Rather than continue groping in the dark we should establish some FACTS so we know best route for op.

    Mr Go lightly is this your house and if not tell us how and why you got mixed up with this?

    It might be possible to somewhat "steer" contractor into re-doing this right. Much depends on code enforcement in that jurisdiction. Contrary to popular belief, many place can't care less and many others aren't sensitive to citizen complaints. Believe it or not,if installer isn't licensed (if required) letting a large contractor know he's moonlighting often prompts them to call authorities and apply pressure to fine and or halt working.

  • last month

    Okay. I asked my GC contractor about the kill switch, and he told me they don’t do that for the compressors. So I went over there again and found that they did install one today. Apparently he doesn’t know about such things. He also claimed that the reason the compressor situation looks different is because the AC contractor cut the front of the board off so there wouldn’t be an overhang. I didn’t see any cut marks, so I think he’s just trying to mollify me with a theory. It just looks like they shoved some more stones under it. As far as the little wires hanging out? That looks strange to me too. I would think there’s some kind of casing to harness them, so they’re not exposed to the elements. The company doing the install is one of the bigger outfits in the area. They installed most of my neighbors’s AC systems too. I think my situation is just different because of the awkward hill site and the GC. I really appreciate you all stepping in with your helpful insights. :)

  • last month
    last modified: last month

    The wire harness is the 24-volt wires to the air handler and thermostat. Not unusual it's exposed. Mine is, although shorter than yours.


  • last month

    Thanks for that. I’m hoping I can put a little removable screen around it, so the animals don’t run behind it, and for aesthetics. My mini-split (which was removed), had no exposed wires, and was altogether more snug against the house and more orderly. I guess these HVACs are a little different, and it should be fine. I really appreciate the insights. I’m a newish homeowner, working with unfamiliar things, but I’m learning! BTW if the machine does vibrate the stones loose, I will be sure to take pics and post ‘em.

  • last month

    "BTW if the machine does vibrate the stones loose, I will be sure to take pics and post ‘em."

    I'm not sure we'll really want to see it.

  • last month
    last modified: last month

    I asked my GC contractor about the kill switch, and he told me they don’t do that for the compressors. So I went over there again and found that they did install one today. Apparently he doesn’t know about such things.

    General contractors typically are not knowledgeable about HVAC installation. Your contractor budgeted an amount of money for HVAC. If you want something changed you will need to pay for it. Big companies tend to do poorer installations than small comapanies in my opinion.

    It just looks like they shoved some more stones under it.

    Looking at the before and after photos it appears the pad the condenser sits on was pushed back towards the foundation wall. This is how the overhang problem was solved. I don't believe any additional stones were added. The fact your GC couldn't figure what was done, or did not want to say is a red flag for me.

    Another solution is to add a stone wall on three sides up to the level of the pad. It can be a decorative block and color coordinated with the siding. Additional stone can then be added. The wall would keep the stone from sliding down. A string trimmer can then be used to keep the grass looking neat.

  • PRO
    last month

    @mike_home,

    I think you let the GC off the hook too easily. While a general contractor probably won't be as knowledgeable as his trade contractors about all of the particulars, installation of a disconnect means within sight of an outdoor HVAC unit is a code requirement. If the local code is based on the NEC, the disconnect needs to be lockable for motors over 1/8 hp. A 125 VAC outdoor receptacle (15A or 20A circuit) also needs to be installed within 25 ft. of the unit to facilitate servicing. Those get installed by my electrician, not my HVAC contractor, but both of them and I are well aware of the code requirements. Unless it's the GC's first week on the job he/she should know the requirements, too.

  • last month

    "Your contractor budgeted an amount of money for HVAC. If you want something changed you will need to pay for it."

    I disagree. The buck stops with the GC. If the work was not done in a safe manner, he's responsible for making it right.

  • last month

    I don't know and understand every inside out of every detail from start to finish in building a home but I do know when to say "to industry standards" when writing a contract or scope of work.

  • last month

    Charles,

    I agree a General Contractor should know basic electrical code and hire licensed electricians. I was trying to educate the original author the knowledge level is low for many GCs. I know there are good General Contractors. I didn't intend to offend anyone. I was trying to educate a new homeowner the realties of dealing with contractors.

    I was not aware an outdoor receptacle needs to be located with 25 feet of the condenser. I am going to look for that in the future.

    sktn77a,

    I do agree a GC needs to fix anything that is unsafe and not compliant to the local code. However I don't think a condenser sitting on a pile on unsecured stones will cause bodily harm to the homeowner. This falls into the class of a poor installation which will become a problem after the installation warranty has expired.


  • PRO
    last month

    Unfortunately, what the OP got might meet the definition of "industry standards," if only locally. It may even satisfy the OEM's installation instructions. Here's the full text of the instructions for installing an outdoor condenser base provided by one manufacturer:

    • The pad should be at least 1” larger than the unit on all sides.
    • The pad must be separate from any structure.
    • The pad must be level.
    • The pad should be high enough above grade to allow for drainage.
    • The pad location must comply with National, State, and Local codes.

    One option to ensure the unit is stable for the long haul is to install treated landscape timbers on three sides and then backfill the interior volume with gravel. A visual screen fence, if desired, could be constructed on top of the landscape timbers.


  • last month
    last modified: last month

    @mike_home: "Looking at the before and after photos it appears the pad the condenser sits on was pushed back towards the foundation wall."

    • Boss: "Harry, get over here."
    • Harry: "What's up, boss?"
    • Boss: "Hold on to this compressor while I shove the concrete back."
    • Harry: "Why? Looks okay to me."
    • Boss: "We gotta make it look like it won't roll down the hill."
    • Harry: "Ah, got it."
    • Boss: "1-2-3 lift!"
    • Harry: "Uh, uh, uh..."
    • Boss: "OK, you can let it down now."
    • Harry: "Whew! Think it'll stay?"
    • Boss: "Dunno. I'm retiring next week."
    • Harry: "I should probably get a new phone number."
  • last month

    Charles & Mike…. Really appreciate your thoughts. MY GC is many ways has been great. Since, I am new to all of this, I haven’t always served myself well either. I’m not ALL bad though. ;) Re: the AC, I couldn’t agree more. I would have preferred it all have been set up ahead of time, as Installing timbers on a grade like that can be challenging, never mind dealing with it now with the stones there. Somehow would have to cut through the ground with some metal sheet bracing first to stabilize it, and manage the various forces. I like the idea of retrofitting the removal decorative fence to the timbers though. Very cool. In this way, it could look great and also be solid. Honestly, I feel like if I try to hire someone, they’re going to want to overcharge me because they can see I am in a bind now? Hopefully, I’ll figure something out. Wish me luck!

  • last month

    "Honestly, I feel like if I try to hire someone, they’re going to want to overcharge me because they can see I am in a bind now?"

    Don't even think about hiring someone else - when it all goes south, they'll be pointing the finger at each other. Get your GC to fix this mess.

  • last month

    @sktn77a: "when it all goes south, they'll be pointing the finger at each other."

    Actually, it'll depend on which way the hill faces.

  • PRO
    last month

    @wdccruise,

    Loved the dialog. I imagine it's close to the real thing!

  • last month

    If there's a sidewalk at the bottom of the hill, you should put up a sign, "Beware of Compressor".