The difference between mounting and installing

Even in the dictionary, the term mounting is not the same as installing.

By Michael Heinsdorf, PE, LEED AP, CDT, ARCOM MasterSpec, Washington D.C. December 27, 2016

Even in a dictionary, the words "mounting" and "installing" are not the same. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, 5th edition, the term mounting is a noun that means "something that serves as a support, setting, or backing." On the other hand, the term installing comes from the verb install and is defined as, "to connect or set in position and prepare for use."

In plain English, an example of a mounting is an object, such as a frame, to which a piece of equipment, such as an air-handling unit (AHU), is bolted. The act of affixing the AHU to the frame is called installing the unit onto the mounting.

Why is it important to differentiate between these two seemingly similar terms? Because all too often in project specifications, mounting and installing are used interchangeably-or mounting is removed in favor of installing. As shown above, these terms are two different things. In specifications, describing the mounting to which the equipment will be affixed is a separate matter from the act of installing the equipment onto the mounting. In a BIM model, the equipment is installed on a mounting, which could be a concrete foundation, a manufacturer curb, or a steel support structure.

Based off of the AHU example, project specifications for a unit may have to specify either an integral mounting assembly or a separately fabricated frame. The mounting itself may need to meet certain seismic or wind-load requirements, whereas installing the equipment may need to meet specific conditions. For instance, the alignment of the mounting and the bolt torque of the bolts attaching the AHU may need to be verified.

Even in a BIM world, this is still an important distinction to make. The difference between the words mounting and installing should be appreciated to make sure that customer requirements are being met. 

Michael Heinsdorf is an engineering specification writer at ARCOM MasterSpec. He has more than 10 years of experience in consulting engineering and is the lead author of MasterSpec Electrical, Communications, and Electronic Safety and Security guide specifications. ARCOM is a CFE Media content partner.

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