Accessing the inside of a package unit

Just inspected a house with a furnace/AC outdoor package unit. It’s not the typical easily “pull off a cover” type furnace but instead has a ton of hardware(screws)holding the covers on. My question is how would you go about this? Would you just get a general sense of how it operates without taking it apart and chalk it up as inaccessible by SOP or would you take all the screws out to get a look inside because it seems like they really have this thing locked down so only service technicians are able to get in there…

Probably take the screws out but we don’t have many packaged units up here and it is your business to run.


I have never opened a package unit to see inside. I just test them for normal function.
In my previous life b4 inspecting, the company I worked for had like 29 package units on the roofs of several buildings. I accompanied the HVAC technicians on many of trips up there to check on repairs. I recall it was a pain to open many of the brands we had.

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Thanks for your input fellas! I think a good standard to follow might be if it is older unit maybe it is worth taking everything apart and having a peek inside but this unit was very new, installed within a year or so and highly unlikely to have any issues yet.

I would open and have a look, also thats were all the information is usually inside

No Condo’s, Apartments, or RTU’s??

Never had to deal with “packaged units” in Canada but, as mentioned above, I would check to see if it worked as intended and leave it at that, unless you know what the hell you were looking at.Taking things apart just for curiosity, I think may cause some liability or future warranty problems, should repair be needed it the future.

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Doesn’t really seem to be much use for a packaged unit in the residential application unless you are completely out of room inside the house which was the case with this particular home.

They are very popular in my area for older homes that were built before central heat/ac were in use. Most run the ducts in the crawl space, but some run an exterior plenum to the attic and duct from there.

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I’ve only come across one. $400k three story cabin style home built around 2000. Didn’t open it up because it was original and a lot of corrosion that needed to be further evaluated. But it was interesting because the cabin was designed for that type of system and to the extent it could be converted to a split system if wanted.

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Corrosion, that would be my concern with installing one of those things, especially here in the northwest. I know package units are sealed up very well, typically being on top of buildings and all but it still seems like a unnecessary risk to take as far as exposure to the elements when you could have most of the system inside.

For us it’s no different than any other Hvac unit. We takeoff the covers and check inside… I do carry a drill with a nut driver to make it easier.


The older homes I spoke of above had very little closet space and the lady of the house WAS NOT giving up her closets.
In more recent years, the have air handlers that mount on their sides allowing for more attic installs.

This is the only one I’ve come across. The exterior duct/plenum leading into the house was completely rusted on the top.

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I run across a fair share of them. In fact, we have one in our house. Seems like a lot of older homes (ours is 1935) didn’t have systems and no place to retrofit an air handler into indoor space.

Not in condos. Most of our condos have been replaced with SFH units like a PUD.

I focused on high end homes, usually waterfront…for good reason. It may have me drive a little more occasionally, but it was well worth it and I got a very good reputation among the owners of such second homes. So, I did lots of them for sale and almost always, if the seller were going to upgrade around here, I did their new homes, too. (Owner of Grainger’s and the owner of the Suave, etc. store brands, etc., that type.)

When I retired, years ago, my least expensive small connected condo was $475.00 and the unit was in the crawlspace, typically.

Oh, and I did many resorts turned to coop type ownership. on the water, of course, for more second home ownership.

99% of apartment that I did were boilers in the boiler room.

Shane- Does your SOP require you to specifically remove and inspect these panels? No.

Read your SOP twice a week till you know it verbatim.

If you do open them up, do you know what your looking at in there?

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I do consider myself to be very knowledgeable with HVAC equipment however I do not have much experience with package units, which is part of the reason I was curious to look inside. I assume it is not much different than a split system with condenser and furnace joined but I could be wrong…

I am familiar with the SOP, I guess my question was mainly what other HI’s do when they run into a package unit, it seems like a bit of a task to get in there but not one I am unwilling to take since we are here to give 100% effort to the client that is paying good money for the inspection services…

You probably only need to take off the cover to the electrical panel. That will give you a look at the wiring to determine if its the proper size. Look for the amount of electric strip heat when making wire size determination. Unfortunately, to see the return air side of the coil, the top panel must be removed. With 30 years in HVAC and seeing a lot of package units, I can tell you they can be difficult to put back on. Don’t even consider it unless you have a screw gun as there are a lot of screws holding it together.

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