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HVAC&R Enforcement on the Rise?

In a recent post, we questioned whether we’re likely to see enforcement of the new engineer registration laws in the HVAC&R sector. Based on the experience in Queensland, it seemed that regulators in other states would likely focus on traditional building and construction regulation and not on HVAC&R activities. However, a review of recent enforcement action by the NSW Building Commission suggests that HVAC&R works are in fact attracting attention. Let’s take a closer look.

Ventilation Vacation: HVAC Systems Gone Rogue

Let’s start our compliance tour with a hefty stop work order slapped on a design and construct group undertaking a residential development at Kirribilli. This order pulled up a number of HVAC failings, in breach of the BCA and AS1668.2-2012:

  • No mechanical exhaust system to the basement carpark or vehicle lift shaft
  • Relief air openings installed too close to outside air intakes
  • A/C pipework insulation having inadequate fire hazard rating
  • Kitchen exhaust systems fitted with non-compliant PVC ductwork

Clearly, even air conditioning and mechanical exhaust got too hot to handle in this trendy little residential project!

Duct and Cover: Fire Safety Fumbles in Wollongong

Our next stop work order takes us on a trip down south on the M1 to Wollongong. This time, the heat was on fire rating compliance for the mechanical ductwork in a mixed use retail/residential complex. NSW Building Commission inspectors called out the following HVAC violations:

  • Ductwork passing through fire-rated floors without fire dampers, in breach of the BCA, AS-1668 and AS4254
  • Mechanical duct wrapped with fire rated material, but missing critical fire dampers and smoke dampers in breach of the NCC and AS1668

The takeaway here? These HVAC systems needed more than a cooling off period—they needed a fire extinguisher!

Pipe Dreams: HVAC Missteps in Maroubra

Next, we head to a mixed-use development in the fashionable waterside suburb of Maroubra. Perched atop the building, one might expect the Building Commission inspector to be soaking in the stunning ocean views. However, his attention was firmly on the refrigeration piping running to the rooftop condensers. It turns out the piping was neither sealed nor insulated according to the A/C provisions of the BCA, and the UV protection was also non-compliant. These issues were promptly added to the list of serious defects on the Building Work Rectification Order, necessitating re-inspection and sign-off. Who knew the biggest chill in Maroubra would come from those unsuspecting, poorly insulated pipes?

Rusty Realities: HVAC Woes in Newcastle

Our last stop takes us to the bustling city of Newcastle, and a rectification order slapped onto to a high-profile waterfront residential apartment complex. Again, it looks like various HVAC&R requirements under the BCA were overlooked. The structure supporting the air-conditioning ducting was corroding, as were a range of rooftop components housing the A/C equipment. Materials used were not fit for the aggressive coastal environment. Looks like the salty sea breeze did more than just rustle some leaves!

Final Whistle: HVAC&R Compliance is No Game

In summary, the NSW Building Commission’s recent actions suggest that HVAC&R compliance might be heating up a little. From botched ductwork to missing ventilation systems and corroded components, scrutiny of your work might be just around the corner. With regulations becoming more stringent and enforcement more vigilant, it’s an ideal moment for everyone to step up their game and ensure compliance.

Interested in some FREE advice on your HVAC&R compliance?

We’re experts in the field and are ready to help. Reach out and we’ll line up a free initial consultation. Simply contact us via our online enquiry form, by calling on 03 8683 5645 or by emailing us at [email protected]

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