About this chapter: Chapter 11 provides for the protection of life and property from the potential fire and health hazards associated with refrigerant chemicals and the machinery that contains such chemicals. Some refrigerants are toxic, some are flammable and some are both. This chapter refers to the International Fire Code® , ASHRAE 15 and IIAR standards 2 through 5.
The system classification, allowable refrigerants, maximum quantity, enclosure requirements, location limitations, and field pressure test requirements shall be determined as follows:
- Determine the refrigeration system's classification, in accordance with Section 1103.3.
- Determine the refrigerant classification in accordance with Section 1103.1.
- Determine the maximum allowable quantity of refrigerant in accordance with Section 1104, based on type of refrigerant, system classification and occupancy.
- Determine the system enclosure requirements in accordance with Section 1104.
- Refrigeration equipment and appliance location and installation shall be subject to the limitations of Chapter 3.
- Nonfactory-tested, field-erected equipment and appliances shall be pressure tested in accordance with Section 1108.
Exception: Addition of a second refrigerant is allowed where permitted by the equipment or appliance manufacturer to improve oil return at low temperatures. The refrigerant and amount added shall be in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.
Refrigerants used in refrigeration systems shall be new, recovered or reclaimed refrigerants in accordance with Section 1126.96.36.199, 1188.8.131.52 or 1184.108.40.206. Where required by the equipment or appliance owner or the code official, the installer shall furnish a signed declaration that the refrigerant used meets the requirements of Section 1220.127.116.11, 118.104.22.168 or 122.214.171.124.
Exception: The refrigerant used shall meet the purity specifications set by the manufacturer of the equipment or appliance in which such refrigerant is used where such specifications are different from that specified in Sections 1126.96.36.199, 1188.8.131.52 and 1184.108.40.206.
Refrigerants shall be classified in accordance with ASHRAE 34 as listed in Table 1103.1.
|FORMULA||CHEMICAL NAME OF BLEND||REFRIGERANT
|AMOUNT OF REFRIGERANT PER OCCUPIED SPACE||[F] DEGREES OF HAZARDa|
|Pounds per 1,000 cubic feet||ppm||g/m3||OELe|
|R-14||CF4||tetrafluoromethane (carbon tetrafluoride)||A1||25||110,000||400||1,000||2-0-0b|
|R-30||CH2Cl2||dichloromethane (methylene chloride)||B1||—||—||—||—||—|
|R-32||CH2F2||difluoromethane (methylene fluoride)||A2f||4.8||36,000||77||1,000||1-4-0|
|R-40||CH3Cl||chloromethane (methyl chloride)||B2||—||—||—||—||—|
|R-E170||CH3OCH3||Methoxymethane (dimethyl ether)||A3||1.0||8,500||16||1,000||—|
|R-610||ethoxyethane (ethyl ether)||CH3CH2OCH2CH3||—||—||—||—||400||—|
For SI: 1 pound = 0.454 kg, 1 cubic foot = 0.0283m3
- Degrees of hazard are for health, fire, and reactivity, respectively, in accordance with NFPA 704.
- Reduction to 1-0-0 is allowed if analysis satisfactory to the code official shows that the maximum concentration for a rupture or full loss of refrigerant charge would not exceed the IDLH, considering both the refrigerant quantity and room volume.
- For installations that are entirely outdoors, use 3-1-0.
- Class I ozone depleting substance; prohibited for new installations.
- Occupational Exposure Limit based on the OSHA PEL, ACGIH TLV-TWA, the TERA WEEL or consistent value on a time-weighed average (TWA) basis (unless noted C for ceiling) for an 8 hr/d and 40 hr/wk.
- The ASHRAE Standard 34 flammability classification for this refrigerant is 2L, which is a subclass of Class 2.
Locations of refrigerating systems are described by occupancy classifications that consider the ability of people to respond to potential exposure to refrigerants. Where equipment or appliances, other than piping, are located outside a building and within 20 feet (6096 mm) of any building opening, such equipment or appliances shall be governed by the occupancy classification of the building. Occupancy classifications shall be defined as follows:
- Institutional occupancy is that portion of premises from which occupants cannot readily leave without the assistance of others because they are disabled, debilitated or confined. Institutional occupancies include, among others, hospitals, nursing homes, asylums and spaces containing locked cells.
- Public assembly occupancy is that portion of premises where large numbers of people congregate and from which occupants cannot quickly vacate the space. Public assembly occupancies include, among others, auditoriums, ballrooms, classrooms, passenger depots, restaurants and theaters.
- Residential occupancy is that portion of premises that provides the occupants with complete independent living facilities, including permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking and sanitation. Residential occupancies include, among others, dormitories, hotels, multiunit apartments and private residences.
- Commercial occupancy is that portion of premises where people transact business, receive personal service or purchase food and other goods. Commercial occupancies include, among others, office and professional buildings, markets (but not large mercantile occupancies) and work or storage areas that do not qualify as industrial occupancies.
- Large mercantile occupancy is that portion of premises where more than 100 persons congregate on levels above or below street level to purchase personal merchandise.
- Industrial occupancy is that portion of premises that is not open to the public, where access by authorized persons is controlled, and that is used to manufacture, process or store goods such as chemicals, food, ice, meat or petroleum.
- Mixed occupancy occurs where two or more occupancies are located within the same building. Where each occupancy is isolated from the rest of the building by tight walls, floors and ceilings and by self-closing doors, the requirements for each occupancy shall apply to its portion of the building. Where the various occupancies are not so isolated, the occupancy having the most stringent requirements shall be the governing occupancy.
Exception: An indirect open-spray system shall not be required to be classified as a high-probability system if the pressure of the secondary coolant is at all times (operating and standby) greater than the pressure of the refrigerant.
Except as provided in Sections 1104.2.1 and 1104.2.2, all components containing the refrigerant shall be located either outdoors or in a machinery room where the quantity of refrigerant in an independent circuit of a system exceeds the amounts shown in Table 1103.1. For refrigerant blends not listed in Table 1103.1, the same requirement shall apply where the amount for any blend component exceeds that indicated in Table 1103.1 for that component. This requirement shall also apply where the combined amount of the blend components exceeds a limit of 69,100 parts per million (ppm) by volume. Machinery rooms required by this section shall be constructed and maintained in accordance with Section 1105 for Group A1 and B1 refrigerants and in accordance with Sections 1105 and 1106 for Group A2, B2, A3 and B3 refrigerants.
- Machinery rooms are not required for listed equipment and appliances containing not more than 6.6 pounds (3 kg) of refrigerant, regardless of the refrigerant's safety classification, where installed in accordance with the equipment's or appliance's listing and the equipment or appliance manufacturer's installation instructions.
- Piping in conformance with Section 1107 is allowed in other locations to connect components installed in a machinery room with those installed outdoors.
This section applies only to rooms and spaces that: are within industrial occupancies; contain a refrigerant evaporator; are maintained at temperatures below 68°F (20°C); and are used for manufacturing, food and beverage preparation, meat cutting, other processes and storage. Where a machinery room would otherwise be required by Section 1104.2, a machinery room shall not be required where all of the following conditions are met:
- The space containing the machinery is separated from other occupancies by tight construction with tight-fitting doors.
- Access is restricted to authorized personnel.
- Refrigerant detectors are not required in unoccupied areas that contain only continuous piping that does not include valves, valve assemblies, equipment, or equipment connections.
- Where approved alternatives are provided, refrigerant detectors for ammonia refrigeration are not required for rooms or areas that are always occupied, and for rooms or areas that have high humidity or other harsh environmental conditions that are incompatible with detection devices.
- Surfaces having temperatures exceeding 800°F (427°C) and open flames are not present where any Group A2, B2, A3 or B3 refrigerant is used (see Section 1104.3.4).
- All electrical equipment and appliances conform to Class 1, Division 2, hazardous location classification requirements of NFPA 70 where the quantity of any Group A2, B2, A3 or B3 refrigerant, other than ammonia, in a single independent circuit would exceed 25 percent of the lower flammability limit (LFL) upon release to the space.
- All refrigerant-containing parts in systems with a total connected compressor power exceeding 100 horsepower (hp) (74.6 kW)—except evaporators used for refrigeration or dehumidification, condensers used for heating, control and pressure relief valves for either, low-probability pumps and connecting piping—are located either outdoors or in a machinery room.
Group A2 and B2 refrigerants shall not be used in high-probability systems where the quantity of refrigerant in any independent refrigerant circuit exceeds the amount shown in Table 1104.3.2. Group A3 and B3 refrigerants shall not be used except where approved.
Exception: This section does not apply to laboratories where the floor area per occupant is not less than 100 square feet (9.3 m2).
MAXIMUM PERMISSIBLE QUANTITIES OF REFRIGERANTS
|TYPE OF REFRIGERATION SYSTEM||MAXIMUM POUNDS FOR VARIOUS OCCUPANCIES|
|Institutional||Assembly||Residential||All other occupancies|
|Sealed absorption system|
|In exit access||0||0||3.3||3.3|
|In adjacent outdoor locations||0||0||22||22|
|In other than exit access||0||6.6||6.6||6.6|
|In other than exit access||0||0||6.6||6.6|
For SI: 1 pound = 0.454 kg.
Where any device having an open flame or surface temperature greater than 800°F (427°C) is used in a room containing more than 6.6 pounds (3 kg) of refrigerant in a single independent circuit, a hood and exhaust system shall be provided in accordance with Section 510. Such exhaust system shall exhaust combustion products to the outdoors.
Where an evaporator or condenser is located in an air duct system, the volume of the smallest, enclosed occupied space served by the duct system shall be used to determine the maximum allowable quantity of refrigerant in the system.
Exception: If airflow to any enclosed space cannot be reduced below one-quarter of its maximum, the entire space served by the air duct system shall be used to determine the maximum allowable quantity of refrigerant in the system.
- Where the refrigerant is carbon dioxide or water.
- Fuel-burning appliances shall not be prohibited in the same machinery room with refrigerant-containing equipment or appliances where combustion air is ducted from outside the machinery room and sealed in such a manner as to prevent any refrigerant leakage from entering the combustion chamber, or where a refrigerant vapor detector is employed to automatically shut off the combustion process in the event of refrigerant leakage.
Machinery rooms shall be mechanically ventilated to the outdoors.
Exception: Where a refrigerating system is located outdoors more than 20 feet (6096 mm) from any building opening and is enclosed by a penthouse, lean-to or other open structure, natural or mechanical ventilation shall be provided. Location of the openings shall be based on the relative density of the refrigerant to air. The free-aperture cross section for the ventilation of the machinery room shall be not less than:
During occupied conditions, the mechanical ventilation system shall exhaust the larger of the following:
- Not less than 0.5 cfm per square foot (0.0025 m3/s • m2) of machinery room area or 20 cfm (0.009 m3/s) per person.
- A volume required to limit the room temperature rise to 18°F (10°C) taking into account the ambient heating effect of all machinery in the room.
- Machinery rooms equipped with a vapor detector that will automatically start the ventilation system at the ventilation rate specified in Section 1105.6.3, and that will actuate an alarm at a detection level not to exceed 1,000 ppm.
- Machinery rooms conforming to the Class 1, Division 2, hazardous location classification requirements of NFPA 70.
The machinery room shall be provided with a refrigerant detection system. The refrigerant detection system shall be in accordance with Section 605.8 of the South Carolina Fire Code and all of the following:
Refrigerant piping that crosses an open space that affords passageway in any building shall be not less than 7 feet 3 inches (2210 mm) above the floor unless the piping is located against the ceiling of such space. Refrigerant piping shall not be placed in any of the following:
- A fire-resistance-rated exit access corridor.
- An interior exit stairway.
- An interior exit ramp.
- An exit passageway.
- An elevator, dumbwaiter or other shaft containing a moving object.
- A shaft that has one or more openings into a fire-resistance-rated exit access corridor, interior exit stairway or ramp or exit passageway.
- Penetrations connecting the basement and the first floor.
- Penetrations connecting the top floor and a machinery penthouse or roof installation.
- Penetrations connecting adjacent floors served by the refrigeration system.
- Penetrations by piping in a direct system where the refrigerant quantity does not exceed Table 1103.1 for the smallest occupied space through which the piping passes.
- 5.1. Enclosed by an approved gas-tight, fire-resistive duct or shaft with openings to those floors served by the refrigeration system.
- 5.2. Located on the exterior of the building where vented to the outdoors or to the space served by the system and not used as an air shaft, closed court or similar space.
Every refrigerant-containing part of every system that is erected on the premises, except compressors, condensers, vessels, evaporators, safety devices, pressure gauges and control mechanisms that are listed and factory tested, shall be tested and proved tight after complete installation, and before operation. Tests shall include both the high- and low-pressure sides of each system at not less than the lower of the design pressures or the setting of the pressure relief device(s). The design pressures for testing shall be those listed on the condensing unit, compressor or compressor unit nameplate, as required by ASHRAE 15.
- Gas bulk storage tanks that are not permanently connected to a refrigeration system.
- Systems erected on the premises with copper tubing not exceeding 5/8-inch (15.8 mm) OD, with wall thickness as required by ASHRAE 15, shall be tested in accordance with Section 1108.1, or by means of refrigerant charged into the system at the saturated vapor pressure of the refrigerant at 70°F (21°C) or higher.
- Limited-charge systems equipped with a pressure relief device, erected on the premises, shall be tested at a pressure not less than one and one-half times the pressure setting of the relief device. If the equipment or appliance has been tested by the manufacturer at one and one-half times the design pressure, the test after erection on the premises shall be conducted at the design pressure.
Tests shall be performed with an inert dried gas including, but not limited to, nitrogen and carbon dioxide. Oxygen, air, combustible gases and mixtures containing such gases shall not be used.
Exception: The use of air is allowed to test R-717, ammonia, systems provided that they are subsequently evacuated before charging with refrigerant.
The following emergency devices and systems shall be periodically tested in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions and as required by the code official: