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Rooftop HVAC equipment: this article describes rooftop mounted HVAC systems - rooftop air conditioners, rooftop heat pumps, and rooftop heating equipment. We describe types of roof-mounted HVAC equipment and common inspection points, operating problems, and repair approaches. At page top is a roof mounted swamp cooler or evaporative cooling system on a private home in Tucson.
Roof-mounted Air Conditioners, Heat Pumps, Heating Systems
Commercial rooftop-mounted combined air conditioning or heat pump units
Rooftop mounted central air conditioning systems may include both the cooling unit (evaporator coil, blower fan, filters) and
the compressor/condenser unit in one package. At above right is a complex of roof-mounted AC/heat pump systems on a Christchurch, New Zealand high rise building roof. These units may be a bit crowded as well as blown-on by the building's ventilation system openings at the upper right of the image.
At above left is a flat-roof mounted commercial cooling system located in New York.
Rooftop mounted central cooling systems may be smaller packaged systems which blow their
cool air down directly into the cooled space through an opening in the roof, drawing return air from a nearby location, or
the rooftop cooling system may be connected to duct work which in turn blows down into multiple building areas to deliver cool air,
drawing return air from one or more centralized returns.
In many commercial installations, the entire area over a suspended ceiling may
serve as one giant return plenum through which pass the supply ducts, delivering air to individual supply registers.
While the list above describes the common components of a typical residential air conditioning system,
other configurations and packaged units are also in increased use in both residential and commercial installations.
Alternative HVAC designs may combine all components except for the duct work in a rooftop mounted unit such as
the one shown above where it was mounted on a flat roof over offices at a commercial building.
Split-System A/C Rooftop Mounted Air Conditioners & Heat Pumps
The outdoor compressor/condenser unit of split-system air conditioners and heat pumps is also commonly mounted on rooftops, especially flat or low-slope roofs such as the unit shown at left.
Installation requirements for rooftop-mounted split system compressors / condenser units include both a service disconnect (circled in our photo) and often additional measures to assure that the unit is properly padded to avoid damage to the roof membrane, and to assure that the unit is properly levelled.
IN our OPINION, where rooftop mounted split system condenser units are exposed to high temperatures system operating efficiency and costs may be affeted.
Rooftop HVAC Duct System Leaks & Water, Mold, and Pathogens
These photographs show what happens when a rooftop packaged-terminal air-conditioning air handler
(PTAC) and horizontal runs of air-ducts are installed on a roof surface and when that air duct system is improperly sealed and
also is lined with fiberglass insulation.
Water ponded on the old, concave sections of air conditioning
ducts on the roof of this commercial office space. As water leaked into the duct system it saturated
fiberglass duct liner which in turn, had its normal coating of organic dust and debris from the building, risking
an indoor mold or pathogen problem for some of the occupants.
The cure for these duct leaks was costly: it was determined that it was less costly to completely
replace the rooftop ducts with new metal ducts using outside insulation than it would have been to
remove the contaminated fiberglass liner, clean the existing ducts, repair the leaks, and insulate their
exterior. The work was combined with other building HVAC cleaning and repairs.
Support Requirements for Rooftop-Mounted HVAC Equipment
Common inspection points & functional issues around rootop-mounted HVAC equipment include:
adequacy of structural support - weight distribution
proper mounting and flashing at support base to avoid roof leaks
provision for working space for maintenance and repair
leaks into the HVAC equipment or duct system (described above)
Shown at left, support system for rooftop air conditioners / heat pumps mounted on a metal roof in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Is it wise and/or possible to put the compressor for a multi split unit in the attic of a home?
OPINION: I can't say if it's wise or not. It's more stunning. Normally the compressor/condenser is placed outside where it exchanges heat with outdoor air. IN an attic putting the compressor condenser unit in such a location would be very unusual and probably not work.
(July 28, 2014) DE said:
Is it possible to move a roof mounted HVAC unit from the roof to a platform adjacent to the house? The roof has been leaking where the unit has been mounted & we'd like to know if we can move the unit to prevent further damage.
Yes if you are talking about a refrigerant based system, but depending on the type of system you are moving the cost could be considerable. For example if the rooftop unit includes the blower assembly.
Rooftop swamp coolers are usually designed to work just in that location.
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 "Air Conditioning & Refrigeration I & II", BOCES Education, Warren Hilliard (instructor), Poughkeepsie, New York, May - July 1982, [classroom notes from air conditioning and refrigeration maintenance and repair course attended by the website author]
 Thanks to Mark Cramer, Tampa Florida, for assistance in technical review of the "Critical Defects" section and for the photograph of the deteriorating gray Owens Corning flex duct in a hot attic. Mr. Cramer is a Florida home inspector and home inspection educator.
 Thanks to Jon Bolton, an ASHI, FABI, and otherwise certified Florida home inspector who provided photos of failing Goodman gray flex duct in a hot attic.
 Thanks to Scott at SJM Inspect for suggesting this EPA document and for technical editing remarks regarding our air conditioning website,
SJM Inspection Service LLC, serves the entire state of CT, sjminspect.com 203-543-0447 or 203-877-4774
 Thanks to Joe Panimondo for technical editing, April 2011
 This website discusses these air conditioning and heat pump terms and problems: Air Conditioners: Central Air Conditioning Troubleshooting & Repair Guide: How to Inspect, Diagnose, & Repair Central Air Conditioning: Defects in A/C compressors, air handlers, duct work, and controls. We explain how to inspect & repair central air conditioning systems and for homeowners we also answer basic HVAC questions such as what are the basic air conditioning components? We provide guidance in determining air conditioning cooling capacity & energy efficiency, Troubleshooting air conditioning compressor problems, Diagnosing air conditioning air handler problems, Air conditioning condensate problems, Duct system inspections, defects, repairs, Cleaning air conditioning equipment & A/C refrigerants.
 HVAC brands discussed include but are not limited to: Lennox, American Standard, Amana, Everrest, Goodman, Frigidaire, Coleman and Gibson. Brands of related air handling equipment
include Honeywell, Aprilaire, White-Rogers, Broan. Nutone, Fantech, Venmar, Arzel, Hi-Velocity, Vanguard, Wirsbo, Weil McLain, Unico, Heat Link, A.O. Smith, Water Furnace, ClimateMaster, Geo-Excel, Command Aire, Friedrich, LG, Mitsubishi, Sanyo, Hart &
Cooley, Munchkin, Superstor Ultra, Lochinvar and Knight HVAC equipment.
 HVAC Employment: U.S. Department of Labor website describes HVAC jobs and the employment outlook for HVAC technicians.
 HVAC Education, Training Accreditation agencies: Quoting the U.S. DOL HVAC website above:: After completing the programs below, new technicians generally need between 6 months to 2 years of field experience before they are considered proficient. Three accrediting agencies have set academic standards for HVACR programs:
 HVAC Excellence. 1701 Pennsylvania Ave NW,
Washington, DC 20006 Tel: (800) 394-5268. Quoting: HVAC Excellence is a not for profit organization that has been serving the HVACR industry since 1994. It is our goal to improve competency through validation of the technical education process. By setting standards and verifying that they have been met, we inspire the industry to excel. We know that all of the challenges that face our industry are achievable by continuous improvement in the way that we prepare technicians.
 National Center for Construction Education and Research, 3600 NW 43rd Street, Bldg. G, Gainesville, FL 32606, Tel: 888.622.3720, Quoting:
NCCER is a not-for-profit education foundation created to develop industry-driven standardized craft training programs with portable credentials and help address the critical workforce shortage facing the construction industry.
 The Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Accreditation, (PAHRA)
2111 Wilson Blvd., Suite 500
Arlington, VA 22201-3001
(703) 524-8800, Quoting: The Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) is an independent, third party organization that is a partnership between heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) educators and the HVACR industry that will award accreditation to programs that have met and/or exceeded industry validated standards. This programmatic accreditation program is the only one that is supported by the major industry associations.
Licensure. Heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers are required to be licensed by some States and localities. Requirements for licensure vary greatly, but all States or localities that require a license have a test that must be passed. The contents of these tests vary by State or locality, with some requiring extensive knowledge of electrical codes and others focusing more on HVACR-specific knowledge. Completion of an apprenticeship program or 2 to 5 years of experience are also common requirements.
In addition, all technicians who purchase or work with refrigerants must be certified in their proper handling. To become certified to purchase and handle refrigerants, technicians must pass a written examination specific to the type of work in which they specialize. The three possible areas of certification are: Type I—servicing small appliances; Type II—high-pressure refrigerants; and Type III—low-pressure refrigerants. Exams are administered by organizations approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, such as trade schools, unions, contractor associations, or building groups.
HVAC Training Courses, Schools: HVAC Technician Training Schools [http://technicianschool.net/hvac-technician-training-schools/], lists the following schools offering technical courses may offer specific training programs for potential careers, including HVAC technicians. Among HVAC schools that website lists are
Everest Colleges [http://www.everest.edu],
Florida Career College
7891 Pines Blvd
Hollywood, FL 33024
2299 Vauxhall Road
Union, NJ 07083
NOTE: when considering an HVAC training course or school, check the HVAC education accrediting associations listed above.
 Ratib Bakera is member of Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES), an International
training organization for the HVACR industry provides educational and certification programs to HVACR professionals of all experience levels. www.rses.org provides information on the organization and its training materials. Independent testing and certification of HVAC technicians is provided by North American Technician Excellence - NATE - see www.natex.org.
NATE is supported by ASHRAE, the US EPA, and a host of other trade and professional associations.
 Singer brand HVAC equipment brand history: Singer was bought by & became the climate control unit of Dallas-based Snyder General Corp. (founded by a former Singer HVAC manager) in 1982. The name Singer was dropped in 1984. In 1984 Snyder General operations included Arcoaire, Comfortmaker, and McQuay. In 1991 Snyder General sold Arcoaire & Comfortmaker to Inter-City Products. In 1994 Snyder General was acquired by Hong Leong Group Malaysia. Snyder General is at 2001 Ross Avenue Dallas, TX 75201.
 Lennox air conditioning and heat pump owners manuals for air conditioners, air handlers, furnaces, heat pumps, indoor air quality systems, packaged units, water heaters, zone controls and other controls such as thermostats, are provided by Lennox at http://www.lennox.com/support/manuals.asp
 Air Diffusion Council, 1901 N. Roselle Road, Suite 800, Schaumburg, Illinois 60195, Tel: (847) 706-6750, Fax: (847) 706-6751 - email@example.com - www.flexibleduct.org/ - "The ADC has produced the 4th Edition of the Flexible Duct Performance & Installation Standards (a 28-page manual) for use and reference by designers, architects, engineers, contractors, installers and users for evaluating, selecting, specifying and properly installing flexible duct in heating and air conditioning systems.
Features covered in depth include: descriptions of typical styles, characteristics and requirements, testing, listing, reporting, certifying, packaging and product marking.
Guidelines for proper installation are treated and illustrated in depth, featuring connections, splices and proper support methods for flexible duct. A single and uniform method of making end connections and splices is graphically presented for both non-metallic and metallic with plain ends."
The printed manual is available in English only. Downloadable PDF is available in English and Spanish.
 Engineering toolbox properties of water - http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/water-thermal-properties-d_162.html and email: firstname.lastname@example.org web search 09/16/2010
 Owens Corning Duct Solutions - www.owenscorning.com/ductsolutions/ - provides current HVAC ductwork and duct insulating product descriptions and a dealer locator. Owens Corning Insulating Systems, LLC, One Owens Corning Parkway, Toledo, OH 43659 1-800-GET-PINK™
 "Flexible Duct Media Fiberglas™ Insulation, Product Data Sheet", Owens Corning - see owenscorning.com/quietzone/pdfs/QZFlexible_DataSheet.pdf "Owens Corning Flexible Duct Media Insulation is a lightweight, flexible, resilient thermal and acoustical insulation made of
inorganic glass fibers bonded with a thermosetting resin."
"Air Conditioning & Refrigeration I & II", BOCES Education, Warren Hilliard (instructor), Poughkeepsie, New York, May - July 1982, [classroom notes from air conditioning and refrigeration maintenance and repair course attended by the website author]
 FlowKinetics LLC, 528 Helena Street
Bryan, Texas 77801 USA, Tel: (979) 680-0659, Email: email@example.com, Website: www.flowkinetics.com, "FKS 1DP-PBM Multi-Function Meter
Pressure, Velocity & Flow
User’s Manual", web search 07/16/2012, original source: http://www.flowkinetics.com/FKS_1DP_PBM_Manual.pdf [copy on file] and "FKT Series Flow Measurement And
Pressure Acquisition System
User's Manual" http://www.flowkinetics.com/FKTSeriesManual.pdf [copy on file]
 Histoire de l'Académie royale des sciences avec les mémoires de mathématique et de physique tirés des registres de cette Académie: 363–376. Retrieved 2009-06-19.- Pitot Tubes, Henri Pitot (1732)
 Wikipedia provided background information about some topics discussed at this website provided this citation is also found in the same article along with a " retrieved on" date. NOTE: because Wikipedia entries are fluid and can be amended in real time, we cite the retrieval date of Wikipedia citations and we do not assert that the information found there is necessarily authoritative.
"Pressure sensor", retrieved 7/16/2012
 "GE Zoneline® Owners Manual and Installation Instructions, Heat/Cool Model 2900, Heat Pump Model 3900", General Electric Corporation, [copy on file].
 "GE Zoneline® Owners Manual and Installation Instructions, Heat Pump Model 5800", General Electric Corporation, [copy on file].
 N Lu, YL Xie, Z Huang, "Air Conditioner Compressor Performance Model", U.S. Department of Energy, August 2008, [copy on file as PNNL-17796.pdf] Available to the public from the National Technical Information Service,
U.S. Department of Commerce, 5285 Port Royal Rd., Springfield, VA 22161
ph: (800) 553-6847, fax: (703) 605-6900
online ordering: http://www.ntis.gov/ordering.htm
 Yinger R, R Bravo, and D Martinez. 2006 Air Conditioner Stalling Effects Study/Air Conditioner Testing
Procedures. Southern California Edison, Rosemead, California
 Bravo, R, R Yinger, and L Gaillac. 2006. Conditioner Stalling Unit Level Solutions Test Report. Southern
California Edison, Rosemead, California.
 Lu N, B Yang and Z Huang. 2008a. Evaluation of Southern California Edison Air-Conditioner Stalling
Solutions. PNNL-17686, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Washington.
 Danny S. Parker, John R. Sherwin, Bart Hibbs, "Development of High Efficiency Air Conditioner Condenser Fans", ASHRAE Transactions June 2005, [copy on file as FSEC-CR-1674-05.pdf]
Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair
The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume. Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
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