December 6, 2021

A building code refers to the regulations that govern the steps allowed or restricted when renovating, adding minor modifications, or constructing a new building. It regulates the construction’s every aspect from the ductwork in your furnace to the wiring in your light fixtures. Even though you may find it tiring to monitor and to update the rules with every new edition, the codes primarily function to enhance your building’s safety.

For instance, running a commercial furnace requires the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Standard 90.1 to deliver comfort. Standard 90.1 is the main basis for energy code improvements in commercial buildings. It is the energy standard for buildings except for low-rise residential buildings. Moreover, it provides a new edition every few years with the Department of Energy (DOE) issuing a determination on whether the new updates will enhance energy efficiency.

Besides energy efficiency and building safety, an up-to-code commercial furnace allows you to care for the environment via energy conservation. The regulations combine to ensure optimal building design and construction, ensuring you can effectively and sufficiently heat or cool your premises with minimal energy wastage.

Therefore, it is vital to ascertain that your commercial furnace is up to code before undertaking any installation or building expansion project. If you plan to sell your building, you also need this verification to determine whether the furnace complies with any new code updates. At Beyer Mechanical in Selma, TX, we have a committed and qualified team to deliver exceptional heating and cooling services to aid your needs, including installations, repairs, and maintenance.

Understanding Texas Building Code

Texas put into effect various building codes to enhance safety and conservation measures, such as the 2015 International Mechanical Code (IMC), the 2015 International Existing Building Code (IEBC), the 2015 International Fuel Gas Code (IFGC), and the 2020 National Electrical Code (NEC). Although these codes pertain to commercial furnaces, the state primarily refers to the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) statutes to facilitate furnace efficiency and energy conservation.

Texas adopted the IECC that generally applies to industrial, commercial, and residential buildings exceeding three stories. It became effective in 2016, with cities and local regions regularly amending their requirements based on these statutes and according to their needs. You can find amendments on your local region’s website homepage, typically under Building Permits & Inspections.

Is My Commercial Furnace Up to Code?

Installing a commercial furnace is a delicate task subject to several code provisions, making it critical to get a professional technician for the installation. Most local areas base their codes on the Uniform Mechanical Code, which is prepared and updated every three years by the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) and the International Code Council (ICC). These codes address commercial furnace installation, repair, and maintenance requirements, meaning it is best to get professional assistance.

When you undertake the installation, repair, or maintenance tasks directly, you can inadvertently break the law by violating current standards. It also exposes you to accidents from mistakes because the processes involve chemicals and combustible fuels. Some common mistakes include putting the carbon monoxide detector too close to the furnace, improperly placing ductwork, choosing incorrectly sized ductwork, and installing insufficient ventilation.

Importance of Commercial Furnace Adherence to Building Code

A building code boosts safety and efficiency via the provided standards, such as facilitating energy-saving performance and proper ductwork in a commercial furnace. You can encounter different benefits when installing a commercial furnace up to code with your area’s standards. Some advantages include:

  • Facilitates energy conservation
  • Improves building safety
  • Enhances heating efficiency
  • Improves building insulation
  • Lowers overall utility costs

Consequences of Operating a Commercial Furnace Not Up to Code

Like all violations, there are consequences to installing a commercial furnace that is not up to your building’s code. It results in legal complications that run the risk of a temporary closure of your business and creating further expenses for correcting the errors. You can also face other operational issues, including:

  • Poor indoor air quality – Some provisions within the codes call for an ergonomic interior design that dictates the maximum and minimum temperature ranges for optimal heating and cooling. This regulation allows your commercial furnace to work optimally without straining, delivering, and maintaining comfortable indoor conditions. It also helps improve indoor air quality since your rooms experience sufficient and efficient airflow. For this reason, your building will provide poor indoor air quality with uncomfortable conditions for your occupants when using a non-compliant furnace.
  • High energy utility – When your commercial furnace is not up to code, it overworks to compensate for the imbalance experienced within the building. For instance, if your premises have poor insulation from not observing a code, the furnace works hard to keep the rooms warm and to make up for the lost air. As a result, the furnace expends energy as you simultaneously waste energy via the escaping warm air. The codes, such as energy conservation guidelines, ensure that your building designs can support adequate thermal resistance for efficient furnace performance.
  • Risk of accidents – The codes also instruct regarding installation guidelines of systems and equipment, ensuring your professional technicians can safely set up the furnace for stable and reliable long-term use. You can also find some maintenance information stipulating for instructions to incorporate maintenance actions on a visible label. Such standards ensure that you can always turn to certified and qualified contractors to undertake commercial furnace installation, repair, and maintenance tasks. Consequently, you increase the risk of furnace accidents when you ignore such regulations and undertake these services yourself. You can easily violate the ever-changing codes, such as misplacing or using improperly sized components and causing furnace and heating complications.
  • Increased Expenses – Running a commercial furnace already presents higher utility bills than average residential premises. If your furnace does not meet the required building codes, it can cause imbalances that lead to energy waste and high bills. In addition, you risk incurring further losses in legal action and repair projects when authority finds your non-compliant furnace.

What Can You Do If Your Commercial Furnace Is Out of Compliance?

Looking at the outcomes of non-compliance, you may wonder how you can address your situation if you learn your commercial furnace is not up to code. You can seek different solutions depending on your circumstances. For instance, you can update any related component of your furnace if you are undertaking a project requiring a city permit. You can speak to the officials in your area’s building department to guide you on how to handle any logistical or bureaucratic issues upfront.

If you intend to sell your building, you need to upgrade the furnace before your sale can go through. You can typically work with your insurer to cover the costs. However, some providers may decline to issue insurance if you have older furnace systems.

Notably, preexisting or grandfathered buildings may allow you to continue running your furnace without continually updating your system every three years. Nonetheless, it is advisable to keep up with the updates for maximum efficiency, safety, and comfort.

At Beyer Mechanical, we provide quality commercial heating and cooling installation, repair, and maintenance services to various clients, ranging from small offices to corporate headquarters, in San Antonio, TX, and the surrounding areas. Contact us today to enjoy the highest level of professionalism and efficiency to keep your premises safe and comfortable year-round.

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