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Removing Commercial AC Compressors from roof

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  1. #1
    GeorgeB started this thread.
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    Removing Commercial AC Compressors from roof

    Hey everyone,

    Been a while since I been on. Been super busy with junk removal jobs, havent had much time for much else, aside from my family.

    Anyway, got a good question.

    One of my oldest clients, contacted me stating that they have 4 or 5 (guy couldnt remember which), commercial ac compressors sitting on top of their roof from a replacement that they had done.



    They told me that they wanted to give me first shot at them, before having the contractor remove them.

    Only thing is, he says they weigh 400 to 500lbs a piece. Never did a big commercial ac unit, so I wouldn't know.

    Anyway, I am hoping someone on here has had to remove one from a roof, and could provide me with a very helpful tip on how to get them down.

    I have straps, muscle, etc. Just want to do it, to where no one gets injured or killed.
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    Straps and muscle...now all you need is a tall ladder.


    And maybe an ambulance on standby.

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  4. #3
    GeorgeB started this thread.
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    Quote Originally Posted by IdahoScrapper View Post
    Straps and muscle...now all you need is a tall ladder.


    And maybe an ambulance on standby.
    Have the ladders, and also rooftop access via the building

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    Yea I am no expert on roof units, but of the ones I have seen, they came down with a crane.

    Not to say they couldn't come down manually, but I wouldn't want to try it, but maybe you can and let us know how that works out.

    Assuming these are discharged, you might knock them down to manageable sizes, because what building owner wouldn't enjoy someone dismantling things on their roof.

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    I always use a crane...If you don't have experience using a crane make sure someone helping you does. Crane operator can't always see his load and will be looking to you for proper hand signals as a guide. Even if you break the unit down on the roof the parts are going to be heavy and proper rope rigging is a must.



    Recyclable Material Merchant Wholesaler
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    "Give them enough so they can do something with it, but not too much that they won't do nothing."

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    Always think about liability. It's too easy for something to go wrong when you've got 500 pounds hanging 75' in the air. Saying "sorry" won't get it.+
    People may laugh at me, but that's ok. I laugh all the way to the bank.

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    Most people I have seen do this when the new compressors go up. That way they use the same crane to do both jobs. I don't know why they didn't have them brought down when the new ones went up. Somebody dropped the ball planning that exchange.

    A guy I work with had a contract with an AC company that when they would replace one they would call him. All he had to do was drive his truck and trailer over and the crane would set right down on his trailer and he could drive straight to the yard.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Craasher View Post
    drive straight to the yard.
    I hope he breaks them down first otherwise a big chunk of money is being lost.

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    Are you talking about compressors or complete RTU's? I completely agree with KZ regarding use of a crane and the need for a qualified signal person. Call a couple of local crane companies and give them the following info: height from the ground to the roof level, distance in from where the crane can set up to where the pick points(units) are, if the crane will have to move for multiple picks, and what type of terrain the crane/outriggers will set upon. If you do not own the proper straps and shackles make sure the crane arriving on site will have them for your use and inspect these items prior to use. If you are not familiar with rigging equipment make sure you have someone on hand who is, the crane company is liable for equipment failure not faulty rigging(that would be your responsibility). With such small weights as 400-500 lbs each it should be an easy proposition, but treat each lift no differently than if it were 8,000-10,000 lbs each. SAFETY FIRST!!! My bread and butter is purchasing old/decommisioned HVAC equipment. There is a lot of money to be made if you have solid contacts with a good crane company and a reliable flatbed service. Also, if these are complete RTU's you will need to make sure the refrigerant has been removed properly and documented. If the units still do have a charge, talk to local people who have certification and recovery equipment about a deal to have them pump down the units. Clean, used R-22 is worth more than #1 copper so keep that in mind when negotiating a pump-down. Best of luck to you, George!

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    George....I'll share my experience with these. Usually, when I find this type of unit, I have an excavator handy and just grab it off the roof and toss it in a truck, too easy no? I did have a demolition job that had one of these bad boys on a building that wasn't going down yet. I couldn't get the excavator in position to get it AND my dad wanted it for his office, so I had to devise a new plan. My helper and I got two 20 foot 2" pipes and chained them together with something (can't remember, a board maybe) holding them about 2 feet apart.. We then levered the unit to the edge and up onto the pipes. After tying a rope to the unit and going around a railing, we shoved it off and it slid easily and gently with only a little pressure on the rope to make it safely onto the trailer. It was a little scary at first, but when it happened, it seemed easy. The trick is to get the pipes tied together so they don't spread out too far and drop it, plus getting the end of your pipe ramp on the trailer and (important) looping the rope around something so you have a friction brake.

    Good luck and be careful. As a second method, if you're not keeping the unit, I'd definitely break it down on the roof before removal. I've done this before with some I didn't have to keep whole. It's much easier handling the parts if you pull out the actual compressor and the coil first.

    Just thinking about your post. If you mean not the whole unit, but just those big piston compressors. Those can be a bear to move too and you can't break them down much. You may still be able to slide them down something, just make sure they are tied and can't get away. Also, if you're more than one story up.......my methods won't work.....helicopter maybe???

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    Ok first you have to figure out what the value in your area is,very important you have to find out if the compressors are screw type or semi herrmattic,I have been doing a/c commercial recycling for twenty five plus years,manny large commercial units have semi herrmattic compressors,not mention in the other posts,screw compressors are the type that most central a/c units say 4-5 unit tons commercial units are only bigger,semi herrmattic compressors look more like a car engine,semi herrmattic have no copper windings in them and there value is HMS 1 (steel)I would guess that they were left on the roof for that reason,I do agree the only way to get them down is with a crane,you also have to find out how far in the crane will have to go for the pick,cranes have jigs on them that can extend there reach,the cost for a crane in my area is around two hundred bucks for two hours But keep in mind the crane company will start charging you from when they leave there barn (travel time) to and from.hope this helped you good luck

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    How you do it kinda reflects how much risk you are willing to take. My comments and suggestions are limited to maybe a maximum of 3 stories. Anything beyond that is full-blown crane work.

    First off, moving a 500 lb load around on a roof that likely is not designed for that kind of concentrated weigh demands some thought--laying planks across the roof at right angles to the support structure under the roof is a consideration... So even getting it to the edge of the roof might be an exercise in white knuckles.

    Getting it from the edge of the roof to the ground is your next challenge. You need something to lift the thing over the roof parapet, if it has one, and hold it out from the wall as you lower it down. You need an anchor for a winch line of some sort on the roof. That is kind of what roofers need to lift their stuff up to a roof--maybe talk to a local roofing contractor as to how they lift roofing materials up to a roof. They may have some simple tools that can be easily set up to do this work.

    Another machine to consider would be renting a "zoom boom forklift". They are a forklift with about a 5000 lb capacity and a boom not unlike an extendible hydraulic crane boom. I've seen pictures of them lifting pallets of plywood and lumber up to pretty decent heights--maybe 3 stories with the bigger machines. They usually are 4 wheel drive.

    If you are very risk adverse, plucking the item from the roof, from where they are sitting now, by crane is the way to go...call a crane service and tell them you want it rigged and placed in the back of your truck. Make sure they have 3rd party liability insurance and whatever other insurance is needed for your part of the world. If you care if they drop your compressors, you can get them to cover your goods with "lift insurance", sometimes called "hook insurance". You will stand there and watch, hands in your pockets. They take all the risk.

    Finally, should they really weigh only 4-500 lbs, the weight is about equivalent to moving a piano. If there is actually a set of stairs to the roof that is wide enough you might be able to move the compressors with lots of brawn and some furniture moving dollies. I would still be super careful about the strength of the roof decking. And the strength of the stairs to the roof! Spreading the load with planks-2x12's- may be your friend here, too.

    Looking at what other smart guys on this forum have to say, who suspect that they are not very valuable compressors, you may end up having to charge a pretty penny to remove them.

    Hope this helps,
    Jon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KzScrapper View Post
    I hope he breaks them down first otherwise a big chunk of money is being lost.
    The company I work for used to call in a guy with a flatbed who would haul away the old units at no cost to my company. My bosses thought they were getting a great deal. The straw that broke my back was when we dropped a thirty year old 70 ton McQuay unit on this guys truck, I asked him about the extent of his breakdown and he said he just took it to his yard and he got twice steel (I'm assuming he was talking about shred)price for it. According to specs that unit listed out at 14,000 lbs. probably around 3,000 in AL/CU coil alone. After that I set up with a crane service and a cartage service and I pay cash for these old units. Don't do any business with the company that employs me(don't want a conflict of interest issue), but I've got no shortage of supply from other companies in the industry. I break it down as far as I can, don't leave anything on the table, and have done fairly well for myself so far. I would like to say thanks to the SMF community for the knowledge that you have shared with me. Without that I would never have been able to take the steps that I did. Thank you all!

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  19. #14
    GeorgeB started this thread.
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    I went to look today while picking up their other misc metal.

    They arent compressors. They are 2 electric motors that weight between 400 to 500lbs a piece.

    They are NOT complete units. Just the motors.

    Talking it over with my brother in law about grabbing them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeB View Post
    I went to look today while picking up their other misc metal.

    They arent compressors. They are 2 electric motors that weight between 400 to 500lbs a piece.

    They are NOT complete units. Just the motors.

    Talking it over with my brother in law about grabbing them.
    George, motors of that size often have the weight stamped into the nameplate data. This will give you a good idea of your profit margin. A crane "drive-by" is your best, safest, option for removal from the roof. If the motors don't already have lifting eyes on them look for a threaded socket in the center/top of the motor to put in a lifting eye. That size motor will usually be a 1/2" thread. Good luck with these. Most of all be safe!

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    GeorgeB started this thread.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DWJ View Post
    George, motors of that size often have the weight stamped into the nameplate data. This will give you a good idea of your profit margin. A crane "drive-by" is your best, safest, option for removal from the roof. If the motors don't already have lifting eyes on them look for a threaded socket in the center/top of the motor to put in a lifting eye. That size motor will usually be a 1/2" thread. Good luck with these. Most of all be safe!
    Thanks for the tip.

    Right now, they are both sitting on a big piece of ply wood. Waiting to hear from my brother in law. Him and his friend have more experience with this type of situation than I do.

    His friend works for a company where they easily process over 10,000 lbs of material several times of weeks.

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    Better than the dump!

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    Goats.....a good ending to any thread.....especially since the OP never finished it. Thanks George Beale - Founder & President.
    Last edited by jimicrk; 01-23-2020 at 03:11 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jimicrk View Post
    Goats.....a good ending to any thread.....especially since the OP never finished it. Thanks George Beale - Founder & President.
    Where u around when George was actively posting?.....I'm sure the guy meant well but not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer

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