How much space should I leave open around my furnace? The answer means everything for fire safety at your home! However, leaving the right amount of space isn’t just about keeping your home safe. Furnaces also need space to function optimally. Just how much space is necessary for your furnace room? Knowing the right answer could save you money on heating and cooling. Take a look at quick tips for giving your furnace enough space.

How Much Space Does a Furnace Need?

The answer that most experts agree on is 30 inches of space. That means that creating an allowance of at least 30 inches all around the heating system should be enough to create a safe, optimal situation in your home. The 30-inch rule allows for:

  • Easy access for technicians when your furnace is being serviced.
  • Reduced risk of fire.
  • Reduced risk of the furnace suddenly shutting off due to lack of ventilation.
  • Efficient furnace performance.

What does the 30-inch rule really mean? The truth is that it applies to everything. It means keeping your furnace at least 30 inches from a wall. It also means keeping at least 30 inches between your furnace and all other objects in a room. Special attention should be paid to keeping furnaces away from combustible items. This includes:

  • Laundry detergent.
  • Cleaning products.
  • Rags and papers.
  • Stacks of old newspapers.
  • Wood scraps.
  • Sawdust.
  • Discarded filters.

There’s something to know if you keep your cat’s litter box in the vicinity of your furnace. It’s a little-known fact that the ammonia in cat urine can actually cause extra wear and tear on your furnace’s heat exchanger. What’s more, keeping a litter box too close to a furnace could be the reason why your home doesn’t smell as fresh as it could. Furnaces can actually move unpleasant odors around a home.

Should You Consider Giving a Furnace More Than 30 Inches of Space?

There’s no need to restrict your buffer to just 30 inches if there’s more space available. Leaving 48 inches (4 feet) is considered ideal whenever possible. The extra space allows for increased ventilation which can ultimately increase a furnace’s efficiency.

Don’t Forget About Building Codes

The size of the open space required around your furnace may not ultimately come down to personal preference. Each municipality around the country has its own set of building codes. When contractors install furnaces, they must adhere to these codes. It’s possible that your furnace is currently out of code if you live in an older house with a furnace that was installed many years ago. In this case, it’s truly in your best interest to have the furnace evaluated by a professional to see if you have a dangerous situation hiding in plain sight. Your furnace arrangement will need to be updated to match current codes if you need to install a new one.

Where Is the Best Place to Install a New Furnace?

Furnace placement really sets the pace for efficiency at your home. The most basic piece of advice when selecting the right spot for your new furnace is to place it in a central location. This allows the unit to distribute heat as evenly as possible. A furnace that is placed in an odd spot can result in a long journey through the heating ducts that ultimately consumes more energy than necessary.

A central area doesn’t necessarily mean the center of your home. However, many experts do recommend placing a furnace as close to the middle of your home as possible. The goal isn’t to disrupt the design of a home in order to install your furnace in the true “center” of the home.” It’s important to find the right balance between low foot traffic and central placement.

While you don’t want your furnace to be in the way, it should be easy to access. A furnace that is tucked away in a no man’s land is dangerous because you may go weeks at a time without looking at it. You might also fail to hear odd noises coming from your furnace if it’s too isolated. It’s important to do regular visual “checks” with your furnace as you’re going about your business in your home. Of course, “easy access” shouldn’t mean easy access for everyone. A furnace should not be easy for kids and pets to reach. Common spots for furnaces include basements, utility rooms, laundry rooms, crawl spaces, garages, closets, and pantries. Make sure that you have a fire alarm installed on the level of the home where the furnace is placed!

What Is the Most Dangerous Spot to Put a Furnace?

Experts generally advise against placing a furnace in an attic. While you may love the idea of placing a furnace in a concealed area that doesn’t require you to give up any storage space in your living area, attic furnaces can be problematic. First, it’s simply more likely that you’ll neglect a furnace that’s located all the way in the attic. Furnaces placed in attics are also highly inefficient. Your furnace will have to work much harder to heat your home. Your attic may also become overheated. Ultimately, an attic furnace is a recipe for inefficiency, roof damage, and fire hazards.

Are there exceptions to this rule? There are some situations where attic furnaces are preferable. For example, placing a furnace in an attic may be advisable when a property is at high risk for flooding. Elevating the furnace can help to prevent hazards associated with the unit becoming soaked. If you have questions about the pros and cons of putting a furnace in your attic, it’s important to consult with local heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) experts capable of providing expert insights.

Space Isn’t the Only Consideration: Does Your Furnace Room Have Proper Ventilation?

Adequate ventilation is essential for gas and oil furnaces. Airflow facilitates proper combustion of both fuel and output. Proper ventilation also protects your home against gas poisoning by reducing concentrations of carbon monoxide (CO). If you’ve recently moved into a new home, it’s essential to confirm that the furnace room is not fully enclosed. It’s also important to be familiar with the type of venting used in your home’s furnace area.

“Some fan-assisted, non-condensing furnaces and boilers, installed between 1987 and 1993, may be vented horizontally through high-temperature plastic vent pipe (not PVC pipe, which is safely used in condensing furnaces),” according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Homeowners should be aware that this type of venting has been recalled. It should be replaced by a stainless-steel vent pipe immediately. It’s also important to be aware that your home has a severe, health-threatening venting problem if you can smell gas.

Final Thoughts on Leaving Enough Room Around Your Furnace

Always aim for 30 inches the whole way around when creating space for your furnace. If you have enough room to create an even larger buffer around your furnace, you can only benefit from leaving more open space in your home’s HVAC area. There’s no doubt that furnace matters are complex. Your household relies on a safe, efficient furnace to stay comfortable throughout the year. That’s why it’s important to seek the guidance of local HVAC professionals in Delaware if you have any questions. The pros at Delaware Heating & Air Conditioning can help you if you need guidance with updating a current furnace, installing a new furnace, relocating a furnace, or optimizing your home’s heating and cooling in any way. We offer friendly, dependable service at reasonable prices. We also offer access to new furnace installation from trusted furnace brands with exceptional warranties. In addition, we’re familiar with all building and residential codes throughout Delaware. Don’t leave questions about your furnace up in the air! Contact Delaware Heating & Air Conditioning today!