Need Attic Advice

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Old 03-14-13, 08:19 AM
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Question Need Attic Advice

We recently purchased a house. The attic was pre-framed. They also added an attic fan in the roof. When we had our house inspection done, the guy told me we would have to seal up the fan and shut it off? He mentioned this because if we didn't, the fan would burn out. Does anyone have any expirence with what our options are for this existing fan in the room? The control board has settings for both heat and humidity.
https://www.dropbox.com/l/5RVXt8nmPL5L86wk3hFzo8

Also I wanted to see if anyone can share some ideas with me on finishing. Right now I wanted to take advantage of the space behind the existing framing. I was going to add some doors to the section where I wanted the space. What I am having a hard time with is what type of access doors or something similar for the furance section. I need it to the be the length of the opening. I also want quick easy access, but something that i can close child proof as well. Any ideas? Here's some pics:

https://www.dropbox.com/l/xasVM8vdvagIAR8YyIaSZa
https://www.dropbox.com/l/uG73I8c8P7ZIE8N0BFIBKc


Thanks all!
 
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Old 03-14-13, 11:11 AM
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Hi JC and welcome to the forum.

Unfortunately it looks like they got off on the wrong foot up there, but since the drywall isn't up, now is a good time to fix it, if it can be. Did the home inspector check to see if building permits were pulled for the work done?

The fan concerns I would assume are due to a limited air supply. The motor is cooled from the passing air and no air, no cooling. There is also the problem that powered exhaust depressurize the attic which will pull conditioned air from the house and that makes them expensive to run.

With your furnace inside the attic, you will want to air seal that area to make it part of the conditioned living space and not leaking and pulling air from the outside. Unfortunately, the foil faced fiberglass insulation will not provide that sealing and it is installed to the inside of the rafter cavities, not good. If you were to sheetrock over it, between the airflow (venting) above the fg and the gaps around the edged and between the fg and the drywall, you would end up with very little insulation value.

If those are 2x6 rafters your code requirement would far exceed what you can install in each cavity with an air space above to vent from soffit to ridge vent. Do you have soffit and ridge venting?

As for enclosing the furnace, that may have restrictions, but I'll let one of the hvac pros comment on that.

As you can see, the project got off to a poor start and doing this right will require a significant investment and some long discussions with your local code official. Do that first to be sure everything you install doesn't end up needing to be removed. Not all attics can be used as we would like.

Bud
 
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Old 03-14-13, 02:27 PM
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Wow..Thanks Bud for the info. Running short on time here so going to review later more what you mentioned. Need to research some of the things your asking to be more clear before i respond. I appreciate your input. Not hearing what i was hoping haha but at least someone is giving me the right direction.
 
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Old 03-14-13, 03:52 PM
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JC, that attic exhaust fan may predate the installation of the furnace. The solid T&G decking leads me to believe that the house is not new. Regardless, it needs to be removed. There are only very rare cases where installing one of those won't increase costs while decreasing comfort.

Quick question: Where and how does your furnace get its makeup air?

To add to what Bud said, I would suggest that you add a 2" thickness of rigid foam insulation (XPS) to the face of each of your 2X6 rafters will help reduce the thermal bridging that they provide and create an additional 2" of depth in each rafter bay for the insulation and ventilation you need there. So the next question is, "Do you have the clearance behind your furnace to add 2-5/8" to each rafter, and to do the sealing, taping and finishing that the drywall will require?"

We can get to other questions, including what kind of doors and hardware you might want to install here, as we go forward.

And yes, welcome to the forums!
 
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Old 03-18-13, 07:57 AM
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Thanks to the both of you for your help. I tried reviewing your questions as best i can but please forgive me because I am very new to this house ownership stuff and know very little. I recently finished a small part of my basement so i thought the attic would be similar and am quickly finding out it is not.

FOr your questions below, let me provide some more info which hopefully helps and answers your questions:

1. The house is on it's old foundation, and outside structure. Everything has been replaced except for that including the roof structure.
2. Attic does have both soffit and ridge venting installed. The insulation is currently sitting over the ridge vents with about a 1 to 2" gap.
3. The current fan installed is new, but i can't tell if it existed in the old house or not and they just installed a new one to replace the old. The roof is new.
4. I do not have space to get behind the furnace to do any installing of XPS insulation.
5. Furnace has 2 filter locations in the house for return air on the 2nd floor. First floor has same setup with a different furnace in the basement.


As for the "T&G Decking", are you referring to the current studs they used as the frame? Not sure why i would need to remove/replace these. If you can point me to additional info or explain why i would appreciate.

If more pics would help, please just say the word. I hope this answers all your questions.

Thank you!
 
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Old 03-18-13, 01:36 PM
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I'd start by asking the local building department their requirements for converting an attic to living space; furring down the rafters, as Bud said already, to get your new insulation in will be a major problem. It appears the bottom of the ridge board at the roof peak is only about 7' to floor (with little/no flat ceiling per code, esp. after furring rafters down, may not meet code for minimum sized room- counting knee-walls placement/headroom). At the top of stairs landing I doubt you have the headroom (for about 36" distance from the stairs) that code requires (new dormer needed). You will also need smoke detector, new "egress" window, possibly new floor joists that are capable of carrying the new loads (reducing headroom even more), I just see an awful lot of work there that may not even happen due to meeting minimum safety/building code. I hope this wasn't suggested by the seller that installed some new sub-floor sheeting and said "Look at the added space here!"

Gary
 
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Old 03-18-13, 04:13 PM
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As for the "T&G Decking", are you referring to the current studs they used as the frame?
No. When I said
Originally Posted by Nashkat1
The solid T&G decking leads me to believe that the house is not new,
I was referring to the roof decking material. We can see the ends of it in the first picture you posted, the one showing the fan. I only mentioned it because it looks like mater that hasn't been used mush since the 1940s.

Furnace has 2 filter locations in the house for return air on the 2nd floor. First floor has same setup with a different furnace in the basement.
2 filter locations? Seems a bit much. Regardless, the question is
Where and how does your furnace get its makeup air?
Not where and how does it get its return air. Maybe it isn't a high efficiency unit and doesn't need a supply source for return air. ??
 

Last edited by Nashkat1; 03-21-13 at 12:20 AM.
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Old 03-20-13, 06:33 AM
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Hey Nashkat
not sure if i fully understand your question then about the makeup air. Right now the 2 filter locations are on the floor below (2nd floor) and that is where it gets the return air feed. Is that what your asking? If not, sorry i don't understand the question.

Seems like the space will be hard to finish as i originally planned. I don't want to go through the headaches of going through the codes department to create a very small space up in the attic. I wanted to create a small space up there for either office or storage room. Something small. Are the options the same if i do something more simple, like paneling perhaps?
 
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Old 03-20-13, 06:47 AM
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Just did some quick research and found makeup air might be related to intake value? I know the one installed in the basement has a feed that runs to outside. I think the attic one is the same way. Does that sound right?
 
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Old 03-21-13, 12:26 AM
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Makeup air is air that is brought in to replace that consumed in combustion. It is separate from the air inside the conditioned space.

I don't want to go through the headaches of going through the codes department to create a very small space up in the attic. I wanted to create a small space up there for either office or storage room. Something small. Are the options the same if i do something more simple, like paneling perhaps?
You may or may not need a permit. I don't see anything requiring one yet.

But you do want to do everything safely, and in a manner that is likely to both increase comfort and reduce costs, don't you?
 
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Old 03-21-13, 06:56 AM
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But you do want to do everything safely, and in a manner that is likely to both increase comfort and reduce costs, don't you?
Yes I do. I just dont want to have to go through to much hassle or money to build this small space. Want to keep it simple but make it useable if possible. Again i appreciate everyone's input.

TO your original question about makeup air, I assume they have an intake pipe running outside like they did with the first floor furnace. I have faith the builder did the right job. He is a neighbor of mine by the way. He's a contractor within town that buys and flips houses in his area. He also worked for the town or still does, not sure. I do still have his contact info if i really needed any important info or questions for him.
 
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Old 03-21-13, 09:43 PM
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TO your original question about makeup air, I assume they have an intake pipe running outside like they did with the first floor furnace. I have faith the builder did the right job. He is a neighbor of mine by the way
It's always good to have faith in the people who do work for you. The reason I asked about the makeup air supply is that the answer to that affects how you can do the enclosure you would like to do. While you're asking your neighbor about that, you might also ask him what it would take to remove that attic exhaust fan and close the hole in the roof where it is.
 
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Old 03-22-13, 01:25 PM
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I think i would rather keep it as is, kill the power to the fan so it no longer is usable, cover it as needed (with wood or insulation) and just install whatever plans i had. My only other idea was to keep it open, and when installing the walls, to leave that open so that the fan extracts the air from attic/house to the outside if and when needed. This sounds unnecessary though, right? I don't want to spend the money and touch a brand new roof if i don't need to. I can worry about this in the future if the right way is to remove and cover the attic hole.

Maybe i am missing something of importance?

So from the posts below, i understand i probably won't meet code, and that the R-value will not be great up there, but for what i intend and the way it is now, that's fine with me. Not much concern although i can see why you want to make your points which are very valid and i appreciate. I guess with that said, what other factors would not allow me to finish that area? Again i can use paneling if that is your recommendation which honestly, because of code and such, I might just do that anyway so i'm not dumping all my money into something the town might want to rip down. I just want to use it as storage and a small desk area.
 
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Old 03-25-13, 10:08 PM
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Why would you need a new roof? All you need there is to remove the fan and its wiring and patch the hole that was cut for it. Insulate like the rest of the area on the inside.

It sounds like you're deciding to ignore the advice here and just use the space as it is. If that's what you want to do, go ahead. Personally, I couldn't afford the utility bills that is likely to result in.
 
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Old 03-27-13, 02:27 PM
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Hey Nashkat, Please dont take my comments the wrong way. We have lived here for about over a year now and thus far utilities have not been a concern. Also the attic does have one vent from the furnance which has keep the room comfortable during the winter, i dont recall the summer though since i dont spend time up there now. Either way it's not that i dont want to take your advice, but rather deal with it at a later time about removing the fan. For now it runs and works and has not had any affect from what i can tell that is affecting us, although from the comments here is not needed and making the insulation value of the house worse because of the loss of heat/cooling. Either way if i remove the fan i will need to go on the roof and add shingles and all that which as i mentioned, i rather deal with down the road.

My initial question was more intended about either 1. leaving it as is and building a wall around the fan to keep it functional, or 2. kill the power and just cover it up with the wall. I now understand the best solution is to remove it if possible and cover it. I am still interested in my other options right now... Hope you understand
 
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Old 03-27-13, 03:42 PM
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I realize you are trying to keep this from becoming a much bigger project, but I want to be sure you are convinced that furnace is getting all of the combustion air it needs. In my line of work we test combustion zones with all exhaust fans running to be sure the total negative pressure cannot backdraft any and all combustion appliances. I am requires to wear a CO detector at all times during my work, because you cannot smell CO and it sneaks up on you. More so young children than adults. I doubt the people who installed that fan did any testing. Most of the time that exhaust is harmless, like having a gas stove, but a speck of dust and they can pour out CO. If the exhaust is vented out, you will discover the problem in your next gas bill. If the exhaust is spilling inside, you and your family may never detect the problem. The test is called a CAZ test and most often performed by energy auditors.

Sorry to keep coming with negative input, but those of us in the business get to read all of the negative reports.

Bud
 
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Old 03-27-13, 10:56 PM
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Good articles; http://www.advancedenergy.org/buildi...%20Studies.pdf

on "back-drafting"; Mastering Roof Inspections: Attic Ventilation Systems, Part 1 - InterNACHI

No matter how small/inexpensive the room, it should meet minimum safety code, this is your responsibility. Codes recently came out with new guide-lines on attic storage/conversions; https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q...1txlzU01V4JQIg

Gary
 
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Old 03-27-13, 11:08 PM
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Hey Nashkat, Please dont take my comments the wrong way.
What would the wrong way be? I'm just an amateur like you, and a volunteer here.

I am concerned that you might, through lack of understanding and a fear of spending money needlessly, not do things which might make your home more comfortable, less expensive and above all, safer. But, as I said, it's your decision.
 
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Old 03-28-13, 07:04 AM
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Awesome read on the attic vent link Gary. Thanks for that.

Ok so if it helps, the fan was only set to run when temps got over 110 and a humidity setting of 90+. If I recall last summer, it didn't ran much and did not run at all during winter months. Hopefully it didn't cause to much issue.

I think I had and might still be having a hard time really understanding the main impacts of my attic and plans. If I am better understanding now, is that this fan is causing more harm then good. For this reason, i will kill the power to it. I know you all recommend to pull it out, and i will do this in the future.

Next issue is the furnace setup. What exactly do I need to look into to see if i would have any issues putting up some paneling? I have made the decision if I do move forward with any plans, it will be paneling. Will make it easier to pull off and deal with anything in the future. So from looking how its setup now, seems it vents to the outside using PVC piping.

Finally the last of the concerns i am hearing is meeting code. I understand the safety requirements and all, but because of my plans, i feel i should be ok whether i meet code or not. Again the space will be used for small storage as you seen now in the pics, and also an office desk/chair for when i work from home. I only plan to add paneling to the existing framing that's there now and no other changes are needed. As for the floor structure, it seems it has the same floor joist as it did in the basement for the first floor. Is that not good enough? Again excuse my ignorance on this and any subject really

Again thanks all for baring with me and providing your experience/expertise/feedback.
 
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Old 03-28-13, 07:08 AM
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I just had a quick thought, if enclosing the furnace area is not good because it needs to breath or whatever, would installing vent covers over cut out holes on the paneling help? I just want to be able to make the space up there look nicer enclosed rather then leaving it as it. Also to help with the noise from the furnace when i am working...
 
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Old 03-28-13, 09:51 AM
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You know how the furnace gets its return air. You need to find out how it gets its makeup air and how it vents, so that you can enable it to do that in the way that will best help you have a safe, efficient and comfortable. The information you need may be in the manuals that came with it, particularly if you have the installation manual. You can also ask the people who installed it.

You can also post the make and model of the unit here. We have some HVAC pros around who might stop by to advise you if we have that information.

if enclosing the furnace area is not good because it needs to breath or whatever, would installing vent covers over cut out holes on the paneling help?
It might. But if your attic furnace needs outside makeup air and you enable it to take the air from inside the house instead, doing that might make the situation worse. Knowing what unit you have should help us find the best answer.
 
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Old 03-29-13, 07:46 AM
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OK i found the model: RCFL-HM3617CC
https://www.dropbox.com/l/qEnFFB3tIE6IyuvGTTvQIe

I think i see what you mean now. I looked at it and I only see an exhaust pipe and no intake pipe as i see in the basement setup. I took some additional pictures if it's helpful:
https://www.dropbox.com/l/SoGzvTBJb59oXtxkM5b92a

Basement setup:
https://www.dropbox.com/l/QopOLWbY3u8zyEc9ppkk69

Let me know if this is what you needed to help me further. I'm not sure if the two models are the same, and if this requires that "Make-up air"

Thanks!
 
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Old 04-03-13, 01:52 PM
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Just noticed I pulled the wrong Model#....
 
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Old 04-03-13, 02:29 PM
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How can i tell? The attic does have Softfit installed it looks like.
 
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Old 04-03-13, 10:07 PM
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Yeah, that looks like it's the Model# for the air coil. It may not need a makeup air supply from the outside, but you need to know before going ahead.
 
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Old 04-04-13, 10:11 AM
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Ok Model = Rheem RGPS. I did some research and sounds like i should be ok getting make up air from inside attic space. I do have to kill attic fan as you all mentioned. No it seems i may need to install vent wholes along door/walls if i do end up closing up that space. Would you all agree and it would be good to go?

Anything else i may be missing?
 
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Old 04-04-13, 01:25 PM
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RGPS is the designation for the series. The full model number includes a code for the heating input designation plus four more letters that designate other options chosen.

That said, making sure you have a good flue for the combustion exhaust, closing and insulating over the opening where the roof fan is, and placing some grilles in the face of the knee wall as you close it sounds like a good way to start.
 
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Old 04-05-13, 12:25 PM
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Thanks. I just went up there again and no where can i find the model# sticket. I am assuming its located somewhere where the unit sits on or i can't get to. Either way i read the instruction manual and it states all models no not require outside air.

SO in addition, read some other thoughts i was just aware of. No carbon detector up there which i will be adding. With that i also noticed the current insulation has written on it that the side facing me is not fire retardant. It states to cover it with dryway or something other or not to put it near open flames or flammable objects. Since it runs around the unit, concerns me a bit, should i be? Options? Is there something small enough to cover it to make it safe? Drywall is to heavy and thick for me to work with in that tight area. Maybe pulling out and replacing that area with a fire retardant version?

Also where the fan is, since they left an opening, the ridge foam piece running through there...they cut it to allow air flow for fan. Should i replace this area with a piece to allow the air to continue flowing in that one rafter space? Or it won't make much difference?

Thanks again.
 
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Old 04-05-13, 05:21 PM
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OK then, no outside makeup air needed. That's one thing checked off.

Yes, close and insulate over the hole where the fan is. With space for air to flow betweemn the insulation and the roof deck.

Drywall is to heavy and thick for me to work with in that tight area.
Drywall can be installed in small sections. The furnace can be shifted to give you working room. Sealing the drywall is important.
 
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Old 04-05-13, 06:21 PM
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I have to apologize for not keeping up with the thread, but the last two posts about make-up air confuse me.

JC you said "Either way i read the instruction manual and it states all models no not require outside air."
Nash, you said "OK then, no outside makeup air needed."

The picture looks like a gas furnace or am I missing something?

If it is a gas furnace, then it needs air to burn. That air must come directly or indirectly from the outside. Before I continue, I'll wait for confirmation that it is indeed a combustion appliance.

Bud
 
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Old 04-05-13, 10:14 PM
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Yes, Bud, that's a gas furnace.
 
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Old 04-06-13, 06:39 AM
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Thanks Nash,
Then the gas furnace has been using air from that attic space for its combustion process and the air that it uses is being replaced through leaks or vents in the attic. If the furnace is to be isolated into that side area as illustrated, it will need an outside source of air provided to that same space. There are specific codes for calculating the area required. If the isolated area is adjacent to an area with an adequate supply of air, then a code compliant vent area can be provided between the furnace cubby and the rest of the attic.

Part of my problem is that this is a health and safety issue carefully covered by codes and dependent upon a careful understanding of what is there and what you want to do. And that has not been done and cannot be done long distance. You need a plan, a permit, a qualified contractor, and proper inspections. Failure to complete this renovation in a code compliant method might result in a service person walking as he would not want to become responsible for a bad install, their license and insurance would be on the line. At time of sale, full disclosure would result in the discovery of this work and the town could require it all be removed plus fines and penalties. NJ is tough.

I'm done
Bud
 
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Old 04-06-13, 09:13 AM
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Good points as always, Bud.

JCae's current plan is to add sufficient vent grilles to allow the furnace to continue to draw its makeup air from inside the attic, thinking that since it has been doing that, and the specs do not call for an outside source, that would work - given that it has a good exhaust vent and the attic fan will be removed.

As you say though, nothing will substitute for an on-site evaluation from an HVAC technician familiar with this appliance and with local regulations - preferably a RHEEM-certified technician.
 
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Old 04-06-13, 02:05 PM
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I agree with Bud, move this thread to HVAC for some specific professional advice in that field. Just cutting some holes in the furnace room/living space may not be enough; see attic installation, and make-up air; http://www.mybuildingpermit.com/Insp...0checklist.pdf

I stopped before, also, when I heard "no inspection"..... unpermitted, possibly unsafe work with possible "blood guilt" consequences, for them and their family; Google it. Keep up on the H.O. Insurance premiums...be safe.

Gary
 
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Old 04-08-13, 08:45 AM
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Thanks all for the additional expertise.

Here's something i found on the web that matches my model's manual about not needing outside makeup air. Also to be clear, the house was inspected, permits were done, and a certified HVAC pro did do the original install (i had them come back to install a whole house humidifier.) With that said I do feel they did the job properly by looking at how things were done. Everything seems well done and nothing half-done. Now whether the changes i am looking to make to the current living space changes that or not i guess i am not sure, but per research if looks like this model is designed for specific installations. As i mentioned before, their original intentions were to finish the attic space but then they stopped for whatever reasons i am not sure. I was not told however that i could finish it if i wanted to.


Here's the info from web that i mentioned above:
Combustion Air for Gas Fired Furnaces
Two openings each with a minimum of one hundred (100) square inches in area, shall
be provided for combustion air. One opening within twelve (12) inches of compartment
ceiling and one within twelve (12) inches of the floor. Check with the building division for
possible additional requirements. When the volume of the room in which the appliance
is installed is greater than fifty (50) cubic feet per 1,000 B.T.U./h of all appliances,
outside combustion air is not required.
Combustion Air may be taken from outside the building, from an attic with 30 inches
clear height and sufficient volume or from under the floor with unobstructed openings to
the exterior, that are twice the area of required openings.

According to this unless i am understanding it incorrectly, is that as long as i meet i think it was 1sq" per 1000 BTU, the unit will run fine. Is this not the case?
Here's a post i found that i think is related to what i am dealing with:
http://www.doityourself.com/forum/in...-problems.html
(Thanks to a colleague of mine for finding this)
 
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Old 04-08-13, 09:00 AM
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I agree with Bud, move this thread to HVAC for some specific professional advice in that field.
Done. Let's see where it goes from here.
 
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Old 04-08-13, 09:14 AM
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I'm not trying to give you a hard time, JC, but you are over here in the attics and crawl spaces forum asking an important HVAC question. And even if you get the answer you are looking for, the real answer needs to come from your AHJ (authority having jurisdiction). With their approval the responsibility shifts from YOU to them. Without that, all of the great advice you can pick from on the internet is mute and you are ultimately the one to blame for whatever is there. If there was a previous design that was approved, they will have a copy and be able to tell you if it still applies. Given the time, probably not.

Enjoy NJ, I escaped 34 years ago.
Bud

Oops, Nash was faster.
 
  #38  
Old 04-08-13, 10:05 AM
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Haha, although NJ is a tough state, I have a lot of family here I can't leave behind
 
  #39  
Old 04-09-13, 08:55 AM
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I think I may have someone come by and install a pipe for outside air... Even if the unit doesn't need outside air, what are the benefits i guess to see if it will weigh on the PRO vs CONs.
 
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