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While essential to keeping our modern houses comfortable and healthy, furnaces are not attractive home fixtures. Thus, you are wondering how to hide a furnace in your finished or unfinished basement. In this post, we combine industry professional knowledge with up-to-date research to thoroughly answer your question.
Generally speaking, hiding a furnace in your basement requires installing or erecting some sort of visual barrier. These barriers can either be permanent or quite temporary. Options for accomplishing this include the following:
- Room divider
- Cabinetry or other furniture
- Framed furnace closet
- Placing the furnace under the stairs
- Strategically placed storage
Keep reading the rest of this post for details on techniques and considerations to accomplish each of the above steps. This post will provide all you need to know to hide your furnace in your basement. We conclude by answering several questions related to this topic of this post.
How To Hide The Furnace In Your Basement
This heading encompasses a wide range of options for hiding your furnace that involves the use of hanging soft material. Simple solutions are just sheets pinned to ceiling joists while for a more elegant look you can incorporate a shower rod and slidable hangers.
It is also possible to repurpose curtain rods that are designed to go above windows to hang in front of your furnace. When making or hanging your curtain consider using fabric, shower curtains, tarps, and any other sheet-like material. This option may work for a furnace placed in the corner of your basement.
If you choose to use any type of flammable material to hide your furnace, ensure that there is enough clearance between the hot furnace element and the curtain. The distance varies based on the type of material and type of furnace you have.
Be sure to check the furnace regulations and to be safe give yourself at least 30-inches of clearance. DO NOT let any sort of fabric rest against the furnace as this has the highest chance of leading to fire.
'Room divider' is the official name for the stand-up zig-zag walls that are often used to change clothes behind. These are handy because they come in a wide range of patterns, heights, widths, and designs. Some even have small shelves and hangers-on on one side.
This option is simple, effective, and very easy to move should the need arise. Before shopping, take the time to measure the space you want to fill. Remember, you may need to use more than one room divider to accomplish your task.
Cabinetry or Other Furniture
Any sort of shelving system or closet makes for appropriate ways to hide your basement furnace. Consider buying a set of bookshelves or an armoire to place between your furnace and the rest of the room.
When choosing a place for the furniture or cabinetry, be sure that you can still access the furnace if need be. Further, design the space so that there is plenty of clearance between the hot furnace and any items that you might place on shelves or flammable furniture backing.
It is also an option to hang a curtain or place a room divider in front of the furnace and then to use a chair or couches to further obscure the area and to discourage people from peeking behind the curtain.
Making a specific furnace closest using standard framing and drywall techniques is by far the most popular way to hide a furnace in the basement. This not only is highly effective it also clearly demarcates the part of the basement for living and storage and the part for the furnace.
However, framing in a wall is also much more expensive than the other options outlined above. Also, and according to this PDF from the US Department of Energy, it is important to consider furnace ventilation requirements and airflow when enclosing a furnace in a sealed room.
If the air in the home cannot reach the furnace, the device will be "starved for air" and will work much less efficiently. This will lead to higher energy bills and less home comfort. Therefore, the furnace closet needs a large return grill in the door or needs to be for a furnace with a separate ducted return system.
To avoid a poorly designed furnace closet, consult an HVAC or home building professional before making the closet permanent. Also, be sure you have access to service the furnace and change out any filters as needed.
An additional advantage of building a furnace closet is that you can incorporate shelves and other storage options on the outside of the closet walls.
Finally, when building your furnace closet, be sure that all hot chimneys are properly considered. There are special building codes for how to frame around these elements and special home building materials that allow you to run chimneys and flues through walls.
Placing the Furnace Under the Stairs
If you can choose where to place your furnace, consider under the stairs or other out-of-the-way locations. This choice makes hiding the furnace easier and means that the furnace will take up less usable space.
Depending on how the stairs are angled, placing the furnace under that stairs may be all the hiding you need to do.
Strategically Placed Storage
A final way to hide a furnace in your basement is with all the stuff you might already store in your basement. Maybe you have enough holiday decorations, boxes of keepsakes, and luggage that you can subtly stack a wall between your furnace and the rest of the basement.
If you decide to go this route, make sure that your stuff does not risk falling over and that you leave adequate clearance so your furnace does not cause a fire and gets all the air it needs.
Where Should a Furnace be Placed in the Basement?
Where you place your furnace in your basement depends mostly on the design of your HVAC system and personal preference. Usually, the home architect will choose a location that is both out of the way and accessible for your in-home ductwork.
Further, if the furnace is a combustion appliance (so it runs on natural gas, propane, or oil) easy access for a chimney or flue is also a consideration. If there is a place you really want, or really do not want, your furnace, home builders and/or designers can usually work around your desires without too much hassle or added cost.
Can a Furnace be Enclosed?
Yes, you can enclose your furnace. However, and according to this information for the US Department of Energy, you do want to make sure that any combustion furnaces have chimneys that satisfy all manufacturers ' recommendations and local building codes.
Further, the furnace will only work properly if it can expel all the conditioned air to the whole house and can suck up air from the house. As outlined above, this usually involves a combination of supply ducts, return ducts, and/or furnace closet return grills.
How close can you store things to a furnace?
While the exact recommendations depend on the type and location of the furnace, a good rule of thumb is to leave 30-inches or more between your furnace and any stored or permanent item. Storing items closer than this distance can lead to fire, smoldering, and furnace inefficiency.
How do you ventilate a furnace room?
Generally, furnace rooms are ventilated with one or two in-door fresh air grills. Sometimes, furnace closets are left with big gaps below and above the door to provide additional ventilation. Importantly, any combustion furnace also has a chimney or flue to allow all combustion gases to safely escape the living area.
In this post, we provided an answer to the question of how to hide a furnace in your basement. The suggestions provided here include options that will work in both finished and unfinished basements. To conclude, we answered several questions related to this post. Good luck!
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