Attic Access to HVAC equipment

Is there a requirement for certain size or type access to furnace/air handlers in an attic. For I think the first time in newer construction (warranty inspection) I came across one with just a little scuttle hatch instead of a attic stair. If they had to replace the unit they would have to install stairs to repalce the unit.

  • 30X22 min. opening or big enough to allow appliance removal (no stair requirement, but I may be wrong)
  • appliance 20 feet max distance from opening
  • walking board to appliance (not required if can be accessed or serviced at the opening)
  • light near appliance, switch at access

I agree! Also, there must be an 18" walkway from the attic entrance to (and around) the unit if I’m not mistaken.

Kevin -

You follow the IRC. Look in your 2003 or 2006 IRC Codebook **OR **in your codecheck. They both cover this and tell you what the guys are saying.

This information was commonly on the tests you took for licensure and part of the curriculum when I took my classes in Texas & part of what ITA, Ahit, PITI, etc teach new students. You probably just forgot you learned it.

I knew it was in there. Just was quicker to post and move on. Worked well.


I do believe that there is a platform requirement around the unit as well, for ease of service, well I am on a short vacation and don’t have my code book. 3 ft comes to mind for some reason.

Peter is correct. The code reference is M1305.1.3.

The walkway is required to be 24" wide.
The code calls for a level service space at least 30"X 30" along all sides of the appliance where access is required.

Is there not also a requirement for a receptacle?

there is also a requirement for a disconnect within “I think it is 6 ft” of the unit.

Equipment disconnect like Robert G. just posted

If you don’t already have them, a set of CodeChecks is mandatory in my opinion for every home inspector. This information is in there.

Have them, as I said, I was not in a location that it was convenient to look at my reference books. But I did have access to here and used it.

Thanks for the responses. They confirmed what I knew and told the client.

receptacle no further than 25 feet from unit.

not sure about distance requirement for disconnect switch.

make sure that 24" walkway is level and unimpeded as much as possible from the attic entrance to the mech. i’ve seen new construction where you have to monkey over a huge return air duct to try to get to the furnace. called out to relocate the duct.

Within sight of the equipment

Thank you - I was pretty sure that was correct.

How refreshing! :mrgreen: