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Old 03-16-2010, 02:44 PM   #1
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Insulating furnace/utility area


I'm thinking before next winter I want to section off my utility area. I have in here: a gas water heater, gas furnace (non condensing), electric clothes dryer (which I hardly use), washer, utility sink and just general storage. It's in an unfinished part of the basement (takes up about 1/4 or 1/5 of the entire basement). The rest of the basement is finished.

My house has zero insulation down here right now. First I planned on insulating all the exterior walls which would this area to include the "conditioned" space. But then I thought about sectioning this area off- insulating and sealing this area for temperature and for sound (to quiet down some of the noisy furnance sound)- and then I could also provide venting for combustion air for the water heater, furnace and dryer too with a 1 way duct from the outside. I'd plan on insulating the ducts in this "unconditioned" area, as well as the pipes (hot water pipes already area), put batting on the walls and on the basement ceiling and use heavy duty doors.

Is this a bad idea or should I just stick to the original plan of insulating the exterior and letting the furnace/dryer/WH draw air in from the rest of conditioned the house.

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Old 04-30-2010, 08:21 AM   #2
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Insulating furnace/utility area


For BTU combustion, have you done the calculation for how large of a vent you'd need to the outside if you sealed off the utility room? This may play into your decision.

I did the air combustion calculation recently for my furnace and water heater and found that I only had half the cu. ft. necessary in my whole basement. So, I was forced to cut a 7.5 diameter hole to the outside, which in turn forced me to enclose my utility room (so it didn't bring a chill to my finished basement area). When doing this, you need to prevent mold from growing when moist air from the outside condences on cold surfaces in your utility room. I used concrete board on the inside of the walls to my utility room, which not only prevents mold but also provides better fire protection. Insulating pipes (hot and cold) and your water heater is good too. The combustion of the two units will keep the room warmer than the outside, so you don't have to worry too much about freezing. Just make sure your pipes are nowhere near the vent.


If you have enough air in your basement to meet the combustion standards, then you don't need a vent to the outside and you can use a louvered door when enclosing your utility room. Read through the combustion air options in the code book and it'll tell you how many vents you need and how large. You may need additional vents in your walls.


Last edited by GCDC; 04-30-2010 at 08:34 AM.
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Old 04-30-2010, 09:23 AM   #3
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Insulating furnace/utility area


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Originally Posted by GCDC View Post
For BTU combustion, have you done the calculation for how large of a vent you'd need to the outside if you sealed off the utility room? This may play into your decision.

I did the air combustion calculation recently for my furnace and water heater and found that I only had half the cu. ft. necessary in my whole basement. So, I was forced to cut a 7.5 diameter hole to the outside, which in turn forced me to enclose my utility room (so it didn't bring a chill to my finished basement area). When doing this, you need to prevent mold from growing when moist air from the outside condences on cold surfaces in your utility room. I used concrete board on the inside of the walls to my utility room, which not only prevents mold but also provides better fire protection. Insulating pipes (hot and cold) and your water heater is good too. The combustion of the two units will keep the room warmer than the outside, so you don't have to worry too much about freezing. Just make sure your pipes are nowhere near the vent. Now, I can see an intake hole for the water heater, as most gas ones dont have a pipe to go outside for combustion air and just pull it from the floor...


If you have enough air in your basement to meet the combustion standards, then you don't need a vent to the outside and you can use a louvered door when enclosing your utility room. Read through the combustion air options in the code book and it'll tell you how many vents you need and how large. You may need additional vents in your walls.

7.5" hole? that seems a little excessive...my furnance that pulls combustion air directly from outside through a PVC pipe is only 3 inches in diamater and that converts down to a 2" hole in the furnance for the combustion air intake... if mine can run on that, why would you need a 7.5" hole? what type of furnace do you have? is it a high efficiency one with direct outdoor venting ability?
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Old 04-30-2010, 12:03 PM   #4
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Insulating furnace/utility area


be very very careful.. i did EXACTLY what you are doing 2 years ago. I remodelled my basement, insulated ALL the walls and the 3 interior walls that surrounded the utility room. I replaced my louvered door with a solid core door. I did this all with the idea that i would have the living area of the basement warm, and the utility would stay cold. I had no concept of "combustion air" and what it was needed for.

Within 3 days my furnace shut down, the repairman after an hour of trying to figure out what caused the problem luckily noticed insulation in the walls and asked how long they were like that. He told me i needed more air-flow. I put the louvered door back on, and a week later my hot water shut down. i still didnt have enough air.

So i had to cut a 12X12 inch opening in the wall closest to the hot water heater.

So in summary, with the louvered door, and a 12 inch opening in another wall to the warm living space i pretty much wasted money insulating the interior walls because the cold air from the utillity room MUST flow to the warm air of the living space.

I understand there are ways around this by direct-air from outside but i didnt pursue that.
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