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Old 03-02-2019, 05:32 PM   #1
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Basement finish, fresh air machine powered by furnace in the way


Hi, I am working on the early phases of finishing my basement walls. However I have a box/motor with venting that is in the way and turns on everytime the oil furnace does. My house is very old and the 4 original windows were not able to be opened at all. I installed tilt in windows. I have this box and motor on the wall between two of the windows with pvc pipe going from the box through the framing and straight outside, on the other side of this box in the basment is a long insulated almost hvac looking pipe pointed toward the floor. I live in the northeast and I get cold air coming in at all times, summer time is all the heat and humidity. About 10 feet away is my oil furnace, every time it comes on for my hot water, and heat this unit starts and forces outside air into the basement and during the winter it makes the basement as cold as the outside. I do know this machine was installed a few years before I bought the house, what is it exactly? can I disconnect it? Cap the pvc and cap the power so down the road if it needs to be reinstalled for selling purposes I can do that. I assume it has to be for fresh air to circulate when the furnace comes on but I have never seen this in other houses, if I have then it's no where near as massive as mine is and I figure it was installed because the old windows could never be opened? Thank you
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Old 03-02-2019, 06:03 PM   #2
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Re: Basement finish, fresh air machine powered by furnace in the way


It is by building code to have a makeup air for your furnace. The formula for it also include people in the same space. I should search for this formula myself. So you can't remove it. I did the same and used simple inline fan and a vent cap for bathroom or dryer with the wind door removed, so it was open to the temps outside. At the time I didn't know what else I could do, although now I know I could have rigged something with such vent in reverse direction.
As far as how to finish it. Can you post a photo? I can't imagine by your description. Since you can't remove it, maybe the fan can go outside? Build a box around it and cover with hot air register cover?
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Old 03-02-2019, 06:06 PM   #3
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Re: Basement finish, fresh air machine powered by furnace in the way


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Hi, I am working on the early phases of finishing my basement walls. However I have a box/motor with venting that is in the way and turns on everytime the oil furnace does. My house is very old and the 4 original windows were not able to be opened at all. I installed tilt in windows. I have this box and motor on the wall between two of the windows with pvc pipe going from the box through the framing and straight outside, on the other side of this box in the basment is a long insulated almost hvac looking pipe pointed toward the floor. I live in the northeast and I get cold air coming in at all times, summer time is all the heat and humidity. About 10 feet away is my oil furnace, every time it comes on for my hot water, and heat this unit starts and forces outside air into the basement and during the winter it makes the basement as cold as the outside. I do know this machine was installed a few years before I bought the house, what is it exactly? can I disconnect it? Cap the pvc and cap the power so down the road if it needs to be reinstalled for selling purposes I can do that. I assume it has to be for fresh air to circulate when the furnace comes on but I have never seen this in other houses, if I have then it's no where near as massive as mine is and I figure it was installed because the old windows could never be opened? Thank you
If the house is tight you may need fire air which is usually just a 4 or 5 inches round from outside to some where near the furnace. It could have a flap on it inside like a dryer vent so it only opens when air is needed.
You can only pump so much air into a house, sounds like it would be pushing warm air out every little gap in the house and that would be bad for insulation.
I could see pumping cool air in the summer with open windows upstairs, but that would be of limited use.
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Old 03-03-2019, 08:56 AM   #4
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Re: Basement finish, fresh air machine powered by furnace in the way


Hi Tanner.
First we need to know your approximate location. Fill in your profile under "advanced" so the location will show to the left with each post.

Requirements for venting vary by location as local authorities can choose or change as they wish. However, being an older home tells me there should be no shortage of fresh air.

When a new house is built they often do an air leakage test to establish the need for fresh air. As carpdad said, I will also have to review the latest codes, but as I remember some codes went ahead and simply required the fresh air whether it was necessary or not, called the stupid approach.

So, you have two issues to resolve, is this a code requirement you must follow and is it actually needed in your home for some reason. Once we know where you are located we can check for the code version your local authorities are following.

As for this fresh air being necessary, I seriously doubt it, old homes leak A LOT. If they tested for air leakage some contractors are nice enough to leave the test results somewhere near the electrical panel. But having done many air leakage tests on older homes your house would have to have been spray foamed or wrapped in plastic to be too tight. Tell us more.

Note, finishing the basement may indeed require re-evaluating the combustion air issue.

Bud
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Old 03-03-2019, 10:03 AM   #5
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Re: Basement finish, fresh air machine powered by furnace in the way


I'm still reading but this is a good link. Based upon 2012 IECC which may have changed in 2015 or now the 2018 version. Sorry but I don't study them all anymore. However I suspect this explanation is close. Still reading and searching

Bud
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Old 03-03-2019, 10:51 AM   #6
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Re: Basement finish, fresh air machine powered by furnace in the way


Sorry to keep re-posting but want all to be able to read while we wait for more info from the op.
I mentioned that I have stopped studying these ventilation codes and this article will help explain why. There are different points of view from within the organizations that set the standards and until they choose a final standard I'm not interested in studying their problems.

Here's my opinion.
For Tanners purposes that fan and intake duct are not needed, unless there was a major air sealing effort and corresponding air leakage test that specified how much air should be provided, TBD. As mentioned, finishing the basement will create a new concern that needs to be reviewed.

In all cases, what is required could override all logic but local authorities have the ability to approve whatever they choose, with cause makes it better.

Done reading for a bit but i do want to find what codes are being followed at your location.

Bud
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Old 03-03-2019, 11:04 AM   #7
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Re: Basement finish, fresh air machine powered by furnace in the way


Old houses are leaky but every home owner in the hose for the last 30 years has likely done things to tighten it up and as the basement is to be finished we can assume the OP will attempt to tighten up the basement and build a room around the furnace.


The problem in a tight house is draft issues at the exhaust for furnace and water tank.
That can cause CO problems in the house.
So I would say as there is a hole in the house already I would duct air to the furnace area and even if it is not thought to be needed cap it so anytime in the future, if the house becomes to tight the air needed for the fire will be available without major destruction.
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Old 03-03-2019, 11:52 AM   #8
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Re: Basement finish, fresh air machine powered by furnace in the way


Hi Neal,
We don't as yet know what "very old" is. In my experience very old homes cannot be made too tight through normal air sealing. Too tight is a process that must be initiated at the start of construction and tested while that construction proceeds.

Since he is using oil for the furnace I'm guessing he has an electric water heater, that is a question for the op.

For reference energy auditors from a few years ago were testing combustion zone pressures (CAZ) to be certain backdrafting would not occur. Again I will have to check but that CAZ testing is no longer being done as it has been found to not be a problem. Personally, I will always watch for pressures that would be a concern whether they are required or not. corrections welcome.

Bud
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Old 03-03-2019, 01:12 PM   #9
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Re: Basement finish, fresh air machine powered by furnace in the way


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Originally Posted by Bud9051 View Post
Hi Neal,
We don't as yet know what "very old" is. In my experience very old homes cannot be made too tight through normal air sealing. Too tight is a process that must be initiated at the start of construction and tested while that construction proceeds.

Since he is using oil for the furnace I'm guessing he has an electric water heater, that is a question for the op.

For reference energy auditors from a few years ago were testing combustion zone pressures (CAZ) to be certain backdrafting would not occur. Again I will have to check but that CAZ testing is no longer being done as it has been found to not be a problem. Personally, I will always watch for pressures that would be a concern whether they are required or not. corrections welcome.

Bud
Not to techy, just doing things while they are cheap and easy.
House leak in or out when there is a pressure difference.
A furnace that has a fire, needs air, and most of the time it will get it.
I would sooner a little draft between a duct in a furnace room to the fire than a draft anywhere else in the house. Air is like water, it finds the easiest path. It is easier to pull air from a duct than thru insulation or past window and door seal. So this air would provide replacement for bathroom and hood fans. And as the furnace room is usually warm the replacement air for fans would likely be warm air from the furnace room in the winter.
I find that preferable to cold drafts by the window in the kitchen.
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