A furnace room is a space where hot air from the furnace is heated up and then released into the outside environment. A good quality furnaces are required to provide enough heat for your home. If not, you may have problems with cold winter days or even extreme summer heat waves. Furnace rooms are usually located in basement level of houses, but they can also be found in garages or other locations where there’s no access to the main house area.
There are two types of furnaces: gas and electric. Gas furnaces require less maintenance than electric ones because they don’t produce smoke like their electric counterparts do. However, both kinds of furnaces have some drawbacks when it comes to energy efficiency. Electric furnaces use electricity which is expensive to generate and maintain. On the other hand, gas furnaces release heat through burning fuel which is relatively cheap to obtain and store (in fact, natural gas is cheaper than coal).
In addition to the cost of heating fuel, there are other costs associated with using a furnace room. These include:
The amount of time it takes to cool down the hot air before releasing it out into the outdoors. This cooling process reduces energy consumption since it saves energy that would otherwise be used during combustion. Some manufacturers claim that they can reduce this cooling time by up to 50%.
In order to make sure that your home doesn’t become too hot during the summer months, you need to ventilate your furnace room. Ventilation is necessary so that hot air doesn’t escape out of the furnace room and cause damage to your home. You can choose between using a fan or a duct system. Both methods will allow you to control how much hot air escapes from the furnace room.
The construction materials used to build the furnace room also affects the heating process. Special materials, such as stone and concrete, slow down the speed of heat transfer, but it also reduces energy consumption. Installing a material like steel is expensive and increases energy loss during combustion.
If you are using a gas furnace, finding the best location (away from your house) to place it can save you money by reducing fuel transportation costs.
How to ventilate your furnace room:
Ventilation is important to help bring down the temperature of your furnace room. You will need a fan or a duct system in order to ventilate the room. When using a fan, you can control how much hot air escapes and by doing so keep extreme temperatures at bay. To begin, you’ll need to drill several holes in your furnace room wall.
There are several types of furnaces that you can choose from, such as a steam furnace, a hot water system or solar heating. You can learn more about these systems by reading our article on the different types of furnaces and boilers. These holes will be used to pass pipes through that lead outside. The smaller the hole, the less hot air will escape but the harder it will be to push the pipes through. You can also use blocks to hold the pipes in place while you are drilling the holes.
When using a duct system, you won’t have to worry as much about temperature control since a fan is automatically used to push cool air into your furnace room. No matter what type of furnace you choose, you’ll need to make sure that it has enough room to function properly. The following suggestions should help you maintain safe distances between your furnace and other flammable objects:
Gas furnaces should have a clearance of at least 18 inches on all sides and the floor. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s manual for specific instructions on how to maintain a safe distance from flammable materials. Duct tape can be used to block holes that are not currently being used. The system we described above with using pipes can also be used with a duct system.
To control how much air flows through your furnace room, you can install dampers. These devices close off ducts so that hot air does not escape into other parts of your home. Dampers are an important part of your ventilation system because they prevent backdrafting from occurring.
Oil furnaces should have a clearance of at least 12 inches on all sides. Again, the manual will tell you what specific requirements your furnace has.
Ducts need a clearance of at least 6 inches on all sides. Like the gas and oil furnaces, make sure that you check the manufacturer’s manual for operating instructions.
How to build a duct system:
Duct systems can be built using metal duct or flexible duct. The choice is yours, but only certain types of metal ducts are recommended (see below). The following instructions should help you get started.
Step 1: First, cut a hole in each wall of your furnace room where pipes will be passing through. Drill several small holes along the bottom of the wall for the pipes to pass through.
A fan that is used to ventilate your furnace room will need a clearance of at least 12 inches on all sides.
Make sure that the appropriate size holes are drilled and that the pipes and dampers are inset into the walls so that there are no exposed metal parts.
Step 2: Next, drill the holes that will be used to pass the pipes through the walls. If you are using metal duct, you may need to hammer the ends in order for them to bend correctly.
Step 3: Attach dampers or airflow restrictors on each pipe. These are important because they will help you control how much air is flowing through your duct system. If too much air passes through the system then backdrafting can occur.
How to build a flexible duct system:
Flexible or plastic ducts can be used with gas furnaces, and they can be purchased at your local home center. You can use metal clamps to attach metal hanging rods to the ends of the duct. One of these rods should be attached to each end of the furnace; the third rod will be used to hang the middle of the flexible duct.
The flexible duct should hang at least 18 inches off the floor and stretch from the furnace to the duct termination located near the base of a nearby wall. Each end of the flex duct should extend at least 6 inches past each wall penetration and should be securely fastened to prevent air leakage.
The system we described above with using pipes can also be used with a flexible duct system.
To control how much air flows through your duct system, you can use dampers. These devices close off the system when not needed. Dampers should be located near the furnace and near the termination at the base of the wall. By closing these dampers you can prevent warm air from flowing into other parts of your home.
Install flexible ducts in a similar manner to that of metal ducts. Attach metal hanging rods to each end of the duct with clamps.
Make sure that the ducts are securely fastened. The system should be installed so that there is a minimum clearance of 6 inches on all sides.
Again, check with the manufacturer’s recommendations for specific requirements regarding your particular furnace and flexible duct system.
Questions & Answers:
Q. Should I have two-ways or four-ways? Are two-ways better than four-ways?
A. There is no consensus on this issue, only opinions. Some people believe that two-ways are better because they give you the option of sending air flow in either direction. With four-ways, you can only send air flow in one direction, hence the name.
Other people feel that four-ways are better because they can send more air than two-ways and therefore will help you save energy.
Q. Is it better to have the registers spread further apart or closer together?
A. Again, this is another decision that you will have to make. If you place the registers farther apart, then you will have longer duct runs and therefore slightly less air resistance. On the other hand, if you place the registers closer together, then you will have shorter duct runs and less installation cost since you won’t need as much flex duct.
Q. I’m confused by all the different terms that I’m seeing when I look for flex duct. What does FFKM mean?
A. FFKM stands for Fluorine-Copolymerized Flexible Tubing Material and is a fancy way of saying flexible duct. Most flex duct is made from this material and therefore you will often see it referred to as such in product titles or descriptions.
Q. Can I use aluminum flex duct?
A. While aluminum flex duct may be cheaper than FFKM, the Air Conditioning Contractors of Australia does not recommend using it. In fact, they don’t even mention it in their book. They do however recommend that you use stainless steel flex duct if you live in a coastal area since salt air can damage non-stainless steel products.
Q. What’s the best way to clean my AC registers?
A. While you should never use a broom to clean your registers, as it will just push the dust and dirt further into the system, there are better tools for the job.
A wide paint brush with soft bristles makes a good tool for cleaning your register. Just take the handle of the brush and gently work it back and forth in the register.
When you’ve finished cleaning the outside of your registers, take a shop-vac and vacuum out the inside. This will prevent dust from building up and eventually clogging your system.
Sources & references used in this article: