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Author Topic: Do-it-yourself installations: codes, etc.  (Read 2358 times)

Jonathan Johnson

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Do-it-yourself installations: codes, etc.
« on: March 01, 2011, 11:51:46 pm »

I suspect there are a lot of people on this forum who like or want to do system installation work themselves. Some opt to hire a pro to do the hookups and configuration, but still do the gruntwork: pulling wires, placing cabinets, etc.

There have been many, many posts in the past about hiring a qualified engineer and rigger when installing flown loudspeakers. This is a good thing.

One thing that I haven't seen much discussion on is observing fire codes when running wires. There have been some posts mentioning using plenum-rated wiring when running through drop ceilings that also serve as air return space; again, a good thing.

Many buildings have walls built to a fire rating standard, to provide for occupant protection and slow the spread of fire. These walls (and floors) require special consideration when penetrating them with wiring, conduit, or piping: you must use a firestop approved for the specific application, sealed with a fire-rated sealant. These are usually a "system" and must be installed in an engineered, specified manner. If wires are added to an existing penetration, the penetration must be resealed in the same manner and materials used originally. This is the only way to maintain the fire rating of the wall or floor.

Here are a couple of links with basic information:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firestop
http://www.ask.com/wiki/Sheetrock#Fire_resistance

I just wanted to throw this out there for your consideration.
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Tom Young

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Re: Do-it-yourself installations: codes, etc.
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2011, 06:48:17 am »

I suspect there are a lot of people on this forum who like or want to do system installation work themselves. Some opt to hire a pro to do the hookups and configuration, but still do the gruntwork: pulling wires, placing cabinets, etc.

There have been many, many posts in the past about hiring a qualified engineer and rigger when installing flown loudspeakers. This is a good thing.

One thing that I haven't seen much discussion on is observing fire codes when running wires. There have been some posts mentioning using plenum-rated wiring when running through drop ceilings that also serve as air return space; again, a good thing.

Many buildings have walls built to a fire rating standard, to provide for occupant protection and slow the spread of fire. These walls (and floors) require special consideration when penetrating them with wiring, conduit, or piping: you must use a firestop approved for the specific application, sealed with a fire-rated sealant. These are usually a "system" and must be installed in an engineered, specified manner. If wires are added to an existing penetration, the penetration must be resealed in the same manner and materials used originally. This is the only way to maintain the fire rating of the wall or floor.

Here are a couple of links with basic information:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firestop
http://www.ask.com/wiki/Sheetrock#Fire_resistance

I just wanted to throw this out there for your consideration.

The issues relating to adhering to fire codes is defintley worth making folks here aware of.

Penetrating walls to install new conduit or wire can also have an effect on acoustic (noise) isolation. Fortunately, fire stop putty is also effective as an acoustic seal when applied correctly.

We also must observe the need to have any electrical power work done by licensed electrical engineers and electricians. In general; if you are creating an isolated grund / tech power system to feed the audio system you need this stamped by an engineer. Church volunteers (and this is also true for professional audio and A/V system installers) should not be doing the power terminations unless they are licensed electricians. And the finished AC power work should also be inspected and "blessed" by the local electrical inspector before using.

In short: churches are not exempt from the laws of physics, human error and liability.
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Tom Young
Electroacoustic Design Services
Oxford CT
203-888-6217

Scott Raymond

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Re: Do-it-yourself installations: codes, etc.
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2011, 10:39:27 am »


In addition to all this I recently asked a construction worker about codes regarding low voltage wiring related to running audio and/or video above suspended ceiling.  He related to us that the fire marshal/inspector wasn't as concerned about cabling as he was about it being properly secured to something substantial.  The concern was about fire fighters having burning wire dropping on them when fighting a fire.  They don't want wire just strung across suspended ceiling as happens in a lot of cases.

Scott
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Brad Weber

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Re: Do-it-yourself installations: codes, etc.
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2011, 12:46:57 pm »

In addition to all this I recently asked a construction worker about codes regarding low voltage wiring related to running audio and/or video above suspended ceiling.  He related to us that the fire marshal/inspector wasn't as concerned about cabling as he was about it being properly secured to something substantial.  The concern was about fire fighters having burning wire dropping on them when fighting a fire.  They don't want wire just strung across suspended ceiling as happens in a lot of cases.
And "something substantial" means structure, not supported off ductwork, piping, conduit, etc.

At a past employer I saw one project be denied a Certificate of Occupancy because of this very issue and our installers had to run entirely new cable runs because everything had been cut to length as run.  That's the example of not doing it right.  An example of that same company doing it right was a project with a distributed speaker system in an Auditorium where the suspended ceiling system failed soon after being installed and the only thing holding the ceiling up was the ceiling speakers which had the cable properly suspended off structure.

Although not mandatory for every installation, here in Georgia as well as in some other states there is State licensing for Low Voltage Contractors.
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