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.
This chapter shall govern the design, installation, construction and repair of refrigeration systems that vaporize and liquefy a fluid during the refrigerating cycle. Refrigerant piping design and installation, including pressure vessels and pressure relief devices, shall conform to this code. Permanently installed refrigerant storage systems and other components shall be considered as part of the refrigeration system to which they are attached.
Listed and labeled self-contained, factory-built equipment and appliances shall be tested in accordance with UL 207, 412, 471 or 1995. Such equipment and appliances are deemed to meet the design, manufacture and factory test requirements of this code if installed in accordance with their listing and the manufacturer's instructions.
Any portion of a refrigeration system that is subject to physical damage shall be protected in an approved manner.
Water supply and discharge connections associated with refrigeration systems shall be made in accordance with this code and the International Plumbing Code.
Refrigeration systems shall comply with the requirements of this code and, except as modified by this code, ASHRAE 15. Ammonia-refrigerating systems shall comply with this code and, except as modified by this code, ASHRAE 15, IIAR 2, IIAR 3, IIAR 4 and IIAR 5.
Mechanical refrigeration systems shall be maintained in proper operating condition, free from accumulations of oil, dirt, waste, excessive corrosion, other debris and leaks.
The type of refrigerant in refrigeration systems having a refrigerant circuit containing more than 220 pounds (99.8 kg) of Group A1 or 30 pounds (13.6 kg) of any other group refrigerant shall not be changed without prior notification to the code official and compliance with the applicable code provisions for the new refrigerant type.
Refrigerant circuit access ports located outdoors shall be fitted with locking-type tamper-resistant caps or shall be otherwise secured to prevent unauthorized access.
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.
Refrigerants, including refrigerant blends, with different designations in ASHRAE 34 shall not be mixed in a system.
Refrigerants used in refrigeration systems shall be new, recovered or reclaimed refrigerants in accordance with Section 1220.127.116.11, 118.104.22.168 or 122.214.171.124. 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 1126.96.36.199, 1188.8.131.52 or 1184.108.40.206.
Refrigerants that are recovered from refrigeration and air-conditioning systems shall not be reused in other than the system from which they were recovered and in other systems of the same owner. Recovered refrigerants shall be filtered and dried before reuse. Recovered refrigerants that show clear signs of contamination shall not be reused unless reclaimed in accordance with Section 1220.127.116.11.
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.
Refrigeration systems shall be classified according to the degree of probability that refrigerant leaked from a failed connection, seal or component could enter an occupied area. The distinction is based on the basic design or location of the components.
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 installed as required for machinery rooms in accordance with Section 1105.3.Exceptions:
- 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.
Periodic tests of the mechanical ventilating system shall be performed in accordance with manufacturer's specifications and as required by the code official.
Fuel-burning appliances and equipment having open flames and that use combustion air from the machinery room shall not be installed in a machinery room.
- 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:
Provisions shall be made for makeup air to replace that being exhausted. Openings for makeup air shall be located to avoid intake of exhaust air. Supply and exhaust ducts to the machinery room shall not serve any other area, shall be constructed in accordance with Chapter 5 and shall be covered with corrosion-resistant screen of not less than 1/4-inch (6.4 mm) mesh.
For other than ammonia systems, the mechanical ventilation systems shall be capable of exhausting the minimum quantity of air both at normal operating and emergency conditions, as required by Sections 118.104.22.168 and 122.214.171.124. The minimum required emergency ventilation rate for ammonia shall be 30 air changes per hour in accordance with IIAR2. Multiple fans or multispeed fans shall be allowed to produce the emergency ventilation rate and to obtain a reduced airflow for normal ventilation.
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.
Upon actuation of the refrigerant detector required in Section 1105.3, the mechanical ventilation system shall exhaust air from the machinery room in the following quantity:
Pressure relief valves for ammonia systems shall discharge in accordance with ASHRAE 15.
There shall not be an open flame-producing device or continuously operating hot surface over 800°F (427°C) permanently installed in the room.
Ventilation systems in ammonia machinery rooms shall be operated continuously at the ventilation rate specified in Section 1105.6.3.
- 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.
Where refrigerants of Groups A2, A3, B2 and B3 are used, the machinery room shall conform to the Class 1, Division 2, hazardous location classification requirements of NFPA 70.
Machinery rooms for systems containing Group A2L refrigerants shall comply with Sections 1106.5.1 through 1106.5.3.
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 International Fire Code and all of the following:
An emergency ventilation system shall be provided at the minimum exhaust rate specified in ASHRAE 15 or Table 1106.5.2. Shutdown of the emergency ventilation system shall be by manual means.
A clearly identified switch of the break-glass type or with an approved tamper-resistant cover shall provide off-only control of refrigerant compressors, refrigerant pumps, and normally closed, automatic refrigerant valves located in the machinery room. Additionally, this equipment shall be automatically shut off whenever the refrigerant vapor concentration in the machinery room exceeds the vapor detector's upper detection limit or 25 percent of the LEL, whichever is lower.
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.
- In other than industrial occupancies and where the refrigerant quantity exceeds Table 1103.1 for the smallest space, penetrations for piping that connects separate pieces of equipment that are either:
- 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.
Rigid or flexible metal enclosures or pipe ducts shall be provided for soft, annealed copper tubing and used for refrigerant piping erected on the premises and containing other than Group A1 or B1 refrigerants. Enclosures shall not be required for connections between condensing units and the nearest riser box(es), provided such connections do not exceed 6 feet (1829 mm) in length.
Refrigerating piping and fittings, brine piping and fittings that, during normal operation, will reach a surface temperature below the dew point of the surrounding air, and are located in spaces or areas where condensation will cause a safety hazard to the building occupants, structure, electrical equipment or any other equipment or appliances, shall be protected in an approved manner to prevent such damage.
Carbon steel pipe with a wall thickness not less than Schedule 80 shall be used for Group A2, A3, B2 or B3 refrigerant liquid lines for sizes 1.5 inches (38 mm) and smaller. Carbon steel pipe with a wall thickness not less than Schedule 40 shall be used for Group A1 or B1 refrigerant liquid lines 6 inches (152 mm) and smaller, Group A2, A3, B2 or B3 refrigerant liquid lines sizes 2 inches (51 mm) through 6 inches (152 mm) and all refrigerant suction and discharge lines 6 inches (152 mm) and smaller. Type F steel pipe shall not be used for refrigerant lines having an operating temperature less than -20°F (-29°C).
Copper tube used for refrigerant piping erected on the premises shall be seamless copper tube of Type ACR (hard or annealed) complying with ASTM B280 or ASTM B819. Annealed temper copper tube shall not be used in sizes larger than a 2-inch (51 mm) nominal size. Mechanical joints other than press-connect joints listed for refrigerant piping shall not be used on annealed temper copper tube in sizes larger than 7/8-inch (22.2 mm) OD size.
Joints and all refrigerant-containing parts of a refrigerating system located in an air duct of an air-conditioning system carrying conditioned air to and from human-occupied space shall be constructed to withstand, without leakage, a pressure of 150 percent of the higher of the design pressure or pressure relief device setting.
Systems containing more than 6.6 pounds (3 kg) of a refrigerant in systems using positive-displacement compressors shall have stop valves installed as follows:
- At the inlet of each compressor, compressor unit or condensing unit.
- At the discharge outlet of each compressor, compressor unit or condensing unit and of each liquid receiver.Exceptions:
Systems containing 100 pounds (45 kg) or more of a refrigerant, other than systems utilizing nonpositive displacement compressors, shall have stop valves, in addition to those required by Section 1107.8, on each inlet of each liquid receiver. Stop valves shall not be required on the inlet of a receiver in a condensing unit, nor on the inlet of a receiver that is an integral part of the condenser.
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.
A certificate of test shall be provided for all systems containing 55 pounds (25 kg) or more of refrigerant. The certificate shall give the name of the refrigerant and the field test pressure applied to the high side and the low side of the system. The certification of test shall be signed by the installer and shall be made part of the public record.
The following emergency devices and systems shall be periodically tested in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions and as required by the code official: