a concrete hurricane pad strapping down an air conditioning unit outside

If you live in the American South, your HVAC could be one hurricane away from being blown away, possibly for good. Do all southern states comply with the hurricane pad code specifications, or do they have their own?

Most southern states’ building codes are under the International Residential Code, which requires concrete slabs supporting objects such as HVAC units to be at least 3 inches (7.62 cm) from the ground.

The pad must also be level.

a man in a purple shirt walking the property of our netzero home, and checking out the hurricane pad for the hvac unit after hurricane ian
This is my HVAC unit sitting on a hurricane pad that survived Hurricane Ian in Cape Coral, FL. Unbelievably, the house was left mostly intact and undamaged with the many hurricane-resistance upgrades we did.

Individual states have variations of the above requirement to meet specific conditions, as some are more prone to hurricanes than others. So what are these requirements?

Keep reading!

HVAC Hurricane Code Requirements by State

Florida

Florida has some of the strictest building codes among the southern states because it’s among the most hurricane-prone in the U.S.

The Florida Building Code (FBC) outlines the state’s HVAC Pad Code.

The hurricane pad comes in three different versions to ensure you can find the perfect one for your specific needs or location.

They include 150MPH (“H”), 175MPH (“HT”), and 175 MPH (“HMD“) versions, and all have the following main features.

• A height of four inches (10.16 cm)

• Steel reinforcement with a minimum of 3,000 psi concrete

• An impressive screw pullout strength

• Easy installation

In particular, the 150 MPH (“H”) version is appropriate for up to 150 MPH installations. The pad provides a solid base for equipment built in areas that experience adverse conditions.

The 175 MPH (“HT”) version has features that sustain higher wind loads. Lastly, the 175 MPH (“HMD“) version has a minimum of 7000 psi solid concrete, and its design suits the strict regulations of Miami-Dade County.

Alabama

An Alabama cityscape lit up at night
Alabama IBC regulations require hurricane pads to have a compressive strength of at least 2,500 PSI.

The 2015 IBC policies govern the exact specifications for HVAC hurricane pads in Alabama.

The IBC specifies that concrete must have a minimum compressive strength of 2,500 psi for the designers to use in construction.

The concrete pads also need the following:

● At least one layer of deformed steel bars or welded wire fabric reinforcement with spacing no more than 36 inches (91.44 cm) apart in both directions.

● A minimum thickness of four inches (10.16 cm), although larger or heavier equipment may require thicker pads

Arkansas

The IBC and the 2012 Arkansas Fire Prevention Code* (Building) require manufacturers to design and construct buildings in Arkansas capable of withstanding wind speeds of 130 mph or greater.

The code further includes specifications for the minimum size, thickness, and reinforcement for hurricane pads.

● The pads must resist vertical and horizontal loads and be anchored to the roof structure to prevent movement during high winds.

● The IBC also requires concrete hurricane pads for HVAC equipment on building roofs in Arkansas to have a minimum thickness of four inches (100 mm).

● Designers must follow the technical data sheet for specific hurricane pads and IBC requirements.

Texas

Texas cityscape on a clear day with a blue and pink sky
In Texas, your HVAC systems must follow the Mechanical Code of Texas guidelines.

Texas requires installing equipment such as HVAC systems to meet the requirements of the listing and the Mechanical Code of Texas.

In addition, the installer must adhere to the ACCA manual per the 2015 IRS sections IECC R403.7 and M1401.3.

The manual adopts the regulations from the 2015 International Building Code, which requires contractors to set up HVAC equipment based on the installation loads and clearances recommended by the manufacturers.

Moreover, you should consult the state’s technical data sheet for the specific hurricane pad you wish to install, especially if you live in hurricane-prone areas.

Delaware

Delaware follows the IBC for construction and building regulations.

For example, the IBC specifies the requirements for HVAC equipment on a hurricane pad in Chapter 19: Concrete, Section 1908.

Some of the essential requirements for hurricane pads in Delaware are as follows:

● Designers must use reinforced concrete at least six inches (15.24 cm) thick with a minimum compressive strength of 4,000 psi

● The pad must have a slope of at least a quarter-inch per foot to permit appropriate drainage.

Georgia

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Standard 7 guidelines apply to designing and constructing buildings, HVAC systems, and other structures in Georgia.

In terms of the design of hurricane pads for HVAC equipment, ASCE 7 guides the determination of wind loads that the equipment and the hurricane pad must be able to withstand.

The IBC, in turn, governs the guidelines for constructing concrete structures. Designers must make a concrete pad with a compressive strength of at least 2,500 pounds per square inch.

Virginia

Virginia cityscape at dusk with a bridge over the water
Virginia’s USBC requires all hurricane pads to handle winds of 110 MPH or higher.

In Virginia, the Uniform Statewide Building Code (USBC) outlines the HVAC Hurricane Pad Code.

● A hurricane pad must meet all requirements of the USBC code and be able to resist wind loads of at least 110 mph.

● In addition, the 2018 Virginia Construction Code demands all ventilation for buildings in flood hazard regions meet the requirements of ASCE 24.

Hence, you have to confirm the specific codes and regulations of your region from professionals before installing HVAC systems.

Kentucky

The Kentucky Building Code (KBC) outlines the HVAC Hurricane Pad Code.

  1. According to the KBC, the HVAC hurricane pad must resist wind loads of at least 110 mph and be connected to the roof structure using bolts or other approved fasteners.
  2. The minimum concrete strength for HVAC hurricane pads in Kentucky must be 2,500 psi.
  3. Also, the concrete Pad’s minimum thickness must be four inches unless otherwise specified by the manufacturer’s technical data or the design professional responsible for the project.

Louisiana

The Building Code of Louisiana provides the specific requirements for constructing hurricane pads in areas prone to hurricanes and other high winds.

Furthermore, the IBC also applies in Louisiana. It requires that the design and construction of hurricane pads follow the (ASCE) 7 guidelines.

Primarily, hurricane pads must have the ability to withstand wind loads of at least 110 mph, and you must securely connect them to the roof structure using bolts or other acceptable fasteners.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s building codes are weaker than other southern states, and their implementation is not mandatory.

The 2015 IBC rules the state’s HVAC Hurricane Pad Code.

Since the specifications of hurricane pads vary with location, you should consult the local building official to determine the exact requirements for various parts of Oklahoma.

Mississippi

The Mississippi Building Code (MSBC) is the law that governs the HVAC Hurricane Pad Code.

The MSBC requires engineers to design buildings according to ASCE 7 standards to withstand wind forces.

To determine the appropriate concrete thickness and strength requirements for a hurricane pad in Mississippi, a structural engineer or other qualified design professionals should consider the following factors:

● The design wind speed of the site

● Soil conditions

● The buildings’ size and height

Also, the hurricane pad must be strong enough to withstand winds of at least 110 mph.

South Carolina

The South Carolina Building Code (SCBC) requires designers to construct a hurricane pad to withstand the wind loads and other forces the IBC specifies.

● In South Carolina, the hurricane pad’s design must support the weight of the HVAC equipment and any additional loads, such as storms.

● The minimum concrete strength for a hurricane pad should be 2,500 psi.

West Virginia

West Virginia's mountainous region at sunset with a colorful sky
West Virginia requires hurricane pads to handle 2,500+ pounds of HVAC equipment.

According to the 2015 IBC, the HVAC hurricane pad code requirements for West Virginia state are as follows:

● A concrete pad with a minimum thickness of six inches (15.24 cm) must support more than 2,500 pounds of HVAC equipment.

● Either welded wire fabric or rebar must reinforce the concrete pad. The reinforcement must be spaced no more than 36 inches (91.44 cm) apart in length and width directions.

● In terms of thickness, the IBC requires that HVAC hurricane pads have a minimum thickness of 6 inches (15.24 cm).

Maryland

The Maryland Building Performance Standards (MBPS) regulates the building codes in the state.

● The MBPS requires the design and installation of hurricane pads to follow the manufacturer’s specific instructions and guidelines.

● Secondly, the technical data sheet should specify the hurricane pad’s size, shape, and material and the required dimensions and spacing of the pad’s foundation anchors.

● The pad must be at least six inches (15.24 cm) thick, with a minimum compressive strength of 3,000 psi.

● Further, the anchors must be spaced at least six inches (15.24 cm) apart, with a minimum embedment depth of 12 inches (30.48 cm).

Tennessee

The Tennessee State Building Code (TSBC) does not have specific code requirements for HVAC hurricane pads in Tennessee.

However, the TSBC does have provisions for protecting mechanical equipment, including HVAC units, from wind and other weather events.

● Manufacturers need to design and construct concrete slabs according to the provisions of ACI 318 as required by the TSBC.

● Also, TSBC provides guidelines for the design and construction of concrete slabs, including minimum thickness requirements based on the type of soil and the expected loads on the slab.

North Carolina

The 2018 North Carolina State Building Code outlines the HVAC Hurricane Pad Code.

The code stresses that the installation of all heating and cooling equipment must comply with Section R322.1.6 of the residential regulations.

Conclusion

All southern states have specific HVAC hurricane pad code requirements that designers or manufacturers must follow to ensure that HVAC systems are adequately secured and protected against tropical storms and hurricanes.

These requirements typically involve installing the HVAC system on a concrete pad or foundation at least four inches (10.16 cm) thick, reinforced with rebar, and anchored to the ground using anchor bolts or other approved methods.

It is crucial to adhere to these requirements to ensure your HVAC system’s safety and integrity during a hurricane or tropical storm.

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