Furnace room door - OK to leave open?

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Greetings folks:
We just recently moved into our first home, and are thus experiencing the initial shock at the cost of heating the place in this Canadian winter!
Our furnace room is a relatively warm place in the basement of course. This may be a stupid question, but is it acceptable to leave the furnace room door open to provide a bit of warmth to the rest of the basement? While the door isn't fireproof or anything, I'm concerned that leaving the door open could cause the furnace to draw air from the rest of the house, sucking in more cold air from outside.
Am I out to lunch here? Advice please!
Thanks,
KD
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No, out to dinner!
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You dont have enough information there to give you an educated answer. Do you have combustion air intakes to the furnace room? Is the unit a new dual pipe condensing furnace that draws combustion air from outside? If the answer is no to both those questions, then you can open the door, leave it closed, it wont make a darn since its GOING to draw air from inside, no matter what and yes, that same air is going to go right up the flue, and pull air in from outside anyway. Open, or closed, it wont matter. IF, you have a dual pipe, condensing furnace that has the PVC flues to the outside, one for exhaust, and one for combustion air, then again, it wont matter, since the air for combustion is being pulled from outdoors, and being exhausted outdoors. IF you have a combustion air system installed as you probably should in teh furnace room, then you are going to have a direct opening to allow for air from outside to enter for the furnace to gain air to burn during the combustion process without pulling from your home, and in that case, you really should keep the door shut. That way, since air is a liquid, and will follow the path of least resistance, as the air is being used in the furnace room, the air from your combustion air duct will be pulled into the room, and replace what is being burned. Otherwise...a 3X8 door is a hell of a lot larger opening than a 5 or 6 inch round duct...you figure what the air will flow through better...
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wrote on 22 Feb 2004:

Actually, here in Northern Virginia at least, it would be a code violation to have a door on the furnace room unless that door had a grill to permit combustion air to pass into the furnace room. If there's no grill, the door should NOT be closed, especially if there's a gas water heater in there as well.

Huh?????
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Doug Boulter

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snipped-for-privacy@nospamhere.speakeasy.net says...

I think he meant to say that air is a fluid. It's not a liquid unless it's _really_ cold. :-)
Regards,
George Wenzel
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Where were you before you moved into the house. If it was an apartment, most apartments are overheated. You may be trying to keep your home to the same level of comfort. We are in Canada, we should be used to a little cold, and houses that are not overheated and thus wasting heat and money. If you keep the thermostat over 70 F or 21 C you are overheating, and your bills will be exessive. Personally that is still too hot for me. I keep my house at 66 F during the days and 59 F at night. My family all feels comfortable at that temperature, and my heating bills are not that bad.

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We are indeed in Canada. We keep our main level at under 65, which isn't uncomfortable for us. My husband minds it a bit more than I do, but has no problem wearing a sweatshirt or whatever when we're inside at night. The basement and upstairs are even cooler than that, which suits me just fine. I've never been one to make it very warm in the house, I prefer it cooler, especially at night. The heating bill was just a shock after living for years in apartments where the heat was included in rent.
Our spring project is going to be working on better insulating our windows and such, probably covering most of them with plastic next winter. But in the meantime, we're exploring ways to reduce our heating costs. At least all this snow we got on the weekend has some insulating properties...
KD

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To keep heating costs down: caulk all seams on the outside of the house, and the sill plate in the basement as well as all wires and pipes that go up through the first floor from the basement (and any openings through the ceiling/top plates into the attic). Have storm windows or thermopane glass and leakproof seals on the windows. Insulate the walls and ceiling to the max. Seal door openings and sills. Change the furnace to a high efficiency gas or oil whichever fuel you are using. Do not use electric heat or heaters. Keep good quality filters in your furnace and change very frequently to reduce resistance to airflow.
I am located just north of Toronto, my gas bill for last heating season was $980.00 CAD for the year to heat the house and hot water, including rental costs of the water heater. This is for a 2000 sq. ft. bungalow with a finished and heated basement.

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Wow, that's pretty efficient heating costs for an entire year. Probably gas is a bit cheaper than oil though, isn't it? We're in Halifax and are using oil for our heat and hot water. For the past three months or so, we're averaging about $225 a month for oil. Our house is two story, finished basement, withabout 1200 square feet of living space. The place is a little over 30 years old, so it probably isn't the most energy efficient home on the planet. The furnace is leased, and has a high-efficiency burner, and no electric heat. We're very new to the home ownership thing, having only moved in here in late August, so we're still learning how to do stuff. I appreciate all the advice! Now I'm going to have to investigate the furnace filters...sad to say, I've never even looked at them. Ya learn something new every day!
KD

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snipped-for-privacy@NOSPAM.ns.sympatico.ca says...

If you're looking for ways to reduce your heating costs, I'd _highly_ recommend that you get an Energuide for Houses evaluation. The program is subsidized by the federal government, so it isn't too expensive, and the payback is worth it. The evaluation will tell you, in detail, where you should be putting your money and effort to get the best return (in terms of reduced heating bills). It'll cost about $150 to get done.
The side benefit is that a second, "follow-up" evaluation is included in the price, which is what allows you to qualify for grant money if your upgrades increase your home's Energuide "rating".
Here's the link for info on the program: http://energuideforhouses.gc.ca
Regards,
George Wenzel
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I keep my house 45 while I'm at work and asleep. 55 max the rest of the time.
Ivan, in Saskatoon

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In Saskatoon, I'm sure you're accustomed to dealing with extreme cold! Of course we don't generally get the cold you get, although we did get about three feet of snow last Thursday. While shoveling sucks, I'll take the snow over the deep freeze!
Perhaps I will try turning the temperature down while at work...it doesn't seem to take that long to heat up again once I turn it up a few degrees. I'm thinking a programmable thermostat may be a convenient way to control the temperature, have it warm up a bit before we get up in the morning and down again when we head for work.
Do any of you have experience with programmable thermostats? Is installation difficult and best left to someone who knows what they're doing? Or can an amateur do something like this without causing a fire? :)
KD

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snipped-for-privacy@NOSPAM.ns.sympatico.ca says...

Thermostats (at least, all the ones I've seen) run off low-voltage wiring. Pretty much no chance you'll cause any fires.
It's pretty simple to install a programmable thermostat - just make sure you keep track of where the wires were attached on the old thermostat, _before_ you disconnect them. Follow the instructions included with the new thermostat, and you should be able to install it without any problems.
I'm definitely not the most handy person out there, but I replaced a standard thermostat with a programmable one in about 30 minutes, including the time needed to program it.
Regards,
George Wenzel
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And you left out the #1 reason for units not working after a HO installs a new thermostat...
Dont forget to shut the power off to the furnace before starting, or posibly run the risk of crossing the R with the C while moving the wiring, and shorting out the transformer.

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stephen@screweduponpurpose says...

Indeed, thanks for pointing that out. I did say he should follow the instructions included with the new thermostat. IIRC, the instructions with mine had bold-faced type saying the power to the furnace should be turned off before starting.
Regards,
George Wenzel
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I did exactly that. I installed a programmable thermostat. The best thing I ever did. It's easy as pie. Remove two small wires from the old thermostat and screw them onto the new one. Screw the thermostat onto the wall. You're done. If you have A/C it's a few more wires, but basically just as easy. They come with instructions. Mine is a "Hunter" brand, from Home Depot. I think I paid about $30. Don't worry, it's so easy to install. The only hard part is reading the instructions in the tiny fine print. It's nice to have the furnace come on in the morning before you have to get up. Some days I think I'd rather suffer the snow you guys get on the east coast instead of our cold. We hit a record here two weeks ago. Minus 45 celcius....and with the wind chill I think it was minus 65. We hovered around there for ten days.
Good luck with your house. They are money pits, but at least you will have something to show for your investment.
Ivan

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Home Depot has the best prices and brand names.
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That is soooooo damn funny.
man..you almost had me for a sec, and then I thought...yea...HD carries Robertshaw...and then I said..NOT....and then I said..oh thats right, they sell that crap Hunter, and a couple of basic homeowner series Honeywells.... Yea..you almost had me thinking you were serious for a second, cause no one is that damn stupid.
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