safe winter heating

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I'm wondering with winter roaring in, whats the safest way to heat my refrigerator of a 2-car garage. It has roll-up doors so theres some gap there. It's insulated on some walls and not on others, :( and covered with 1/2" plywood. It has about a 6" "flue vent" from the previous owner where apparently they used to have a wood stove, but now that would be in my office space, so not much help to the shop itself. I'm still working on a good dust collecting method, but with sub-zero temperatures coming I really don't want to freeze my fingers off.
Troy
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If you face sub zero winter temps then the first thing you should look at is properly insulating the building and addressing the gaps in the overhead doors. You can put all the heat you want into a building but if it won't hold the heat or it allows that nice fresh air inside through gaps, it'll never feel nice and warm. Lots of waste there, in either money or effort depending on whether you buy your heat or chop it.
After that, there is no such thing as the best way to heat. Start by thinking about what form of heat you already have for the house - can you bring that out into the garage? If not, how about propane? How big is the garage? There are some very good ceiling mount systems out there if you're interested in that option. Good way to conserve floor space.
Unless you are independently wealthy or can generate your own power, I'd suggest staying away from electric.
I have an older, but very well maintained propane furnace in my garage. I do woodworking, autobody repair, mechanical repair, etc. in my garage with no problems and all the heat I want. My garage is 36x26 and is very well insulated, with good, insulated metal clad doors. Works very well in Northeast winters. More modern units are more efficient than mine and typically smaller. If I were to replace mine it would be with a more modern, ceiling mount unit. Mine is the size of a small refrigerator and it is mounted in a corner about a foot off the floor.
I use more solvents in the course of painting one car than most woodworkers use in the course of a year and I generate more very fine dust than any wood sanding process will ever generate. You will likely hear a lot about open pilot lights and concerns for solvents and other explosion concerns. Most of these (though not all) are not valid concerns. A little research into the required ratios of vapors and/or dust to air volume will provide you with a great deal of information that can steer your confidence in any particular heating solution.
I went with propane because it was easier, and because I had been given the furnace by a friend who is a heating contractor. It came out of a facility where it had received annual maintenance by his company and it was on an upgrade cycle. The price was certainly right and I already had propane for the kitchen stove and oven, so it was easy to simply have a larger tank placed by the propane company. Not as efficient as fuel oil, but I didn't have to trench over to my basement, purchase and install all of the copper, etc. I keep it throttled back to the lowest setting unless I'm going to be working out there. At that, it keeps the garage above 40 through the worst of the weather. So, it does not take more than a few minutes to bring it up to 70.
So, there's my thoughts. But... get that place insulated.
--

-Mike-
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Ok, that was my first thought. I'm installing RJ-11 insulation in the walls that don't have it and then in the ceiling joists above the "office" I created. I'm also insulating the cieling with 1" styrofoam panels and the blue panels on the walls. I have a few walls ( like the one my desk it on ) where it would be a MAJOR pain to have to pull the plywood off the wall to insulate. Is there a better way? My windows are so weird, that they slide UP into the wall itself. Its hard to explain if you've never seen one. The whole window dissapears just about. Luckily there are only 2 of them and they are small. The garage doors are going to be my biggest problem. I looked today and sure enough there are gaps big enough to give the largest heater a run for its money. But short of putting a "false" wall up in front of them for the winter I haven't the foggiest idea how to insulate them and close off those gaps. Do they just need readjusting? There is a large "gap" in the concrete at the base of each door but it is full of root and debri and even if it wasn't the one door for sure would never go in there as its bowed inward at the bottom slightly. These doors have brown horizontal (plastic?) panels. I shouldn't call them "roll up" cause they more "fold up" then roll. The slide up into the ceiling so to speak. I'm in Knoxville, Iowa and already we're in the 20's at night. I've got 1 small electric heater and 2 large ones going and they are barely keeping the office bearable. I definetly don't want to waste energy as my utility bills are already quite high as we have a 100+yr old house! We're trying to get it "weatherized" now. We keep not catching the guy. As for the house we have "central heat and air" and the Garage is unattached so I don't think that would be very efficient even though its only about 12' from the house. We currently have natural gas. Propane here is MUCH more expensive then Natural gas. I was considering Kerosene like walmart sells but I don't know about that. My garage is roughly 24' square. The ceiling is another thing. It is open right now. Just look up and there's the roof. ( except as mentioned in the office ) I don't know if I should "close this off" and lose the storage space, or keep it open. I know I need to do something! I'm more then fine with ceiling mount. My one larger heater that I'm using right now is a "radiant shop heater" and its a cieling mount with a small halogen lamp for lighting. Definetly not wealthy, in fact 100% on the opposite end of the pay scale :(
It will also help if I quit working at night so much. Much colder at night of course. My body clock is all snaffued but thats another story.
Troy.... The chilly Bear.
Mike Marlow wrote:

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I would seriously consider loosing the potential storage space and closing off the ceiling at some level. You cannot fight physics. Hot air rises. If you leave the ceiling open, whatever heating system you use will not warm the area in which you work until it has warmed that large open area above you. Conversely the uninsulated roof will cause very cold air to drop down to the working area causing internal drafts.
The 1in panels for the ceiling are better than nothing, but you really ought to have more insulation at the ceiling, especially if you do not close it off.
Sounds like the garage doors are also a big problem. Direct air leaking will loose more heat than the section of wall which is not insulated by your desk.
Try looking for some type of rubber/foam seal. Can you attach anything to the outside frame? I did this for my garage doors. It is plastic with rubber flange. This is now sold at the likes of Home Depot/Lowes. At the time I purchased mine from a speciality house.
Dave Paine.

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wrote:

A cheap solution, and better than nothing, would be to use 1-2 mil plastic and double-sided tape to cover the entire doors and whatever windows you don't need for ventilation. Just like the window insulating kits they sell at the hardware store- not classy, but they do help.

Kerosene isn't a terrible choice- they sell an odorless version now, too. If you get one of those jet heaters that look like a tube on a flat tank, it'll heat the place up quick. Just make sure you've got some ventilation, and they work great. I've used them in construction and woodshops alike, and there's never been an issue with the dust igniting. A good one heats so quickly and intensely, you may find yourself shutting it off fairly often, even without insulating.

Could split the difference, and staple plastic to the bottom of the trusses for the winter to lower the ceiling so you're not heating the peak before any warmth gets to you. It won't keep the heat in without a heater running, but it will keep warm air around you for a longer period of time before it blows out the roof.

In that case, look at the jet heaters, as mentioned above- or get a "Mr. Heater" that hooks on a standard 20lb propane tank (usually for heating ice fishing shacks). Either one will make your shop bearable, at least- though you may have to move the Mr. Heater around a bit to keep it near where you're working.    
But from previous expeience, don't even bother with electric ones.
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I assume technology has improved, but unless your venting to the outside Kerosene and propane will add moisture to the shop air and increase rust problems. I recommend a dry heat source for your tools, and you want to match house humidity for wood which will be going in the house.
Mike M
On Sat, 14 Oct 2006 21:07:42 -0500, Prometheus

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On Sat, 14 Oct 2006 19:18:37 -0700, Mike M

You raise a vaild point, but I was looking at this-
">>>Definetly not wealthy, in fact 100% on the opposite end of the payscale :("
Having been there more often than I'd like to admit, I know that cheap and warm is going to beat expensive and dry 99.9% of the time- and a cheap propane or kerosene heater will warm the place up, while a cheap electric heater will burn a lot of electricity with no real effect. Just have to make the call, and wax your tools if it gets steamy.
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You have two considerations, safe for intended use and safe per code/insurance for a garage.
Safe per code for a garage you really need to consult the building inspector or the local code--in general though a flame less than x distance above the floor would be a no-no due to the possibility of igniting gasoline vapor, but there may be other limitations. And as long as it has a door large enough to pass a motor vehicle the inspector is going to consider it to be a garage.
Safe for an office or workshop the main concern unless you are spraying coatings is carbon monoxide--the danger of heater-induced fire in a wood shop is greatly exaggerated--you do want to keep piles of chips and sawdust away from the heater/furnace though. If you do want to spray coatings in cold weather then you've got a whole nother set of problems to deal with besides the heater.
If you want to be super-safe then a hot water system with the boiler in another room would be the way to go--it moves the flame to a point external to the shop. Trouble with that is that unless you do an in-floor radiant system the radiators use up a lot of wall space. Also you _have_ to run it in the winter in areas where the temperature goes below freezing or it will freeze.
Anything that uses gas or oil is going to need to be vented--the new high efficiency designs vent with a piece of PVC pipe, not a conventional flue, and may be easier for you to install for that reason, but you'll need to put up either radiators or duct work to use one (I don't know of any that are standalone). A conventional vented gas or oil heater will certainly keep the place warm but may not pass code for a garage unless hung from the ceiling, and if the ceiling is low then it may not pass even then.
As far as your walls go, there are constractors who will cut holes from the outside between the studs and blow in fiberglass insulation, then close the holes. This is the easy way to do it if you don't want to pull down the interior sheathing, but it isn't necessarily the cheap way to do it--pulling down the plywood, putting in fiberglass, and putting the plywood back up isn't going to be quite as great a task as it seems before you get started on it.
You need to seal and insulate that door. There are purpose-made garage door seals that work more or less well, but if you don't need it to open never understimate the utility of duct tape. It's not pretty but it _is_ a seal. Some pink foam glued to the back will go a long way toward cutting down the losses through the door material itself.

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Since I'm primarily doing penmaking and such I don't PLAN on doing spraying in the wintertime, but I guess if I did, I could always create a booth near the window on my bench and put a box fan there to draw the fumes out. Would be easier just to do it in the basement or outside though... BRRRRRRRRRR Is considering it a garage a necessarily bad thing? As a first time home owner I haven't the foggiest. If I pickup a carbon monoxide detector does that solve the CO problem? Or is it too late once they go off? Its 8' to the bottom of the truss's and then about another 3-4 feet to the peek. Of the 2 doors, One has some serious problems opening ( read broken parts ) so that one can be sealed off totally as far as I'm concerned as its in the "lumber storage area" anyway! The other perhaps I can persuade the bottom panel to get back into the groove? At any event I can for the winter at least use the "regular" door for bringing supplies and equipment in and out. Luckily "equiptment" is usually a one way trip :D Thanks for the duck tape reminder... Amazing stuff.
Troy
J. Clarke wrote:

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wrote:

Penmaking? You have a mini or midi lathe? If so, I'd just bring it inside and use the basement for the winter. Or maybe build an 8x10 shed and insulate the snot out of it for a turnery.
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Drawing the flammable fumes out over the open motor of a box fan. Could get you a Darwin Award for that invention.
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I have been considering building a removeable wall outside of my garage door. I could then insulate between the wall and the garage door. I would make the wall look like my paneled garage door.
-- Mark
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Troy (in egpvme$53r$ snipped-for-privacy@news.netins.net) said:
| I'm wondering with winter roaring in, whats the safest way to heat | my refrigerator of a 2-car garage. It has roll-up doors so theres | some gap there. It's insulated on some walls and not on others, :( | and covered with 1/2" plywood. It has about a 6" "flue vent" from | the previous owner where apparently they used to have a wood stove, | but now that would be in my office space, so not much help to the | shop itself. | I'm still working on a good dust collecting method, but with | sub-zero temperatures coming I really don't want to freeze my | fingers off.
Seal gaps and insulate first. Close that flue vent (top and bottom) if you're not going to use it.
Since you already have woodworking skills, I'll suggest building solar air-heating panels for the south (first) and west (second) sides of your garage. The panels on the west side will need plywood covers during the warm season, but will gather warmth during winter afternoons.
If you need help getting started, you're invited to visit next time you're in the Des Moines area. It might also be helpful to lurk on news:alt.solar.thermal - there are a few people there who really know their stuff (as well as a fair number who just like to dream). If you lurk for a while, you can probably sort 'em out for yourself. :-)
-- Morris Dovey DeSoto Solar DeSoto, Iowa USA http://www.iedu.com/DeSoto
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You know Morris I was thinking about you just the other day when I was at the Woodsmith Store. Let me find out the next day the wife has off and we'll plan a trip to your place. Maybe by then I'll have an "olivewood pen" done and can get your opinion. I'm a beginning woodworker. FAR better computer tech then woodworker :D I was wondering how well passive solar would work out here. Be talking to ya soon. Troy
Morris Dovey wrote:

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Hi Troy I have made a set of barn doors which close over the insulated roll-up garage door. These doors are insulated w/3" ridged insulation.I have somewhere around a 30+ r-factor. The shop itself is 2x4 construction with 8 foot ceiling ,with heavy insulation Shop size is 32x22 and is heated with a Monitor kerosene heater.Monitor also makes a gas version. I COULDN'T BE HAPPIER I used less than 100 gallons last winter,heated all the time at least to 50 degrees when working sometimes heated to 70 degrees.
this is in central Maine

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Thats an excellent Idea. Stopping the air infiltration will be a big step towards solving the freezing problem. I'll still get some from the slab floor but not nearly as much as from the doors. Great idea. I suppose I could store them in the ceiling during the summer so I can use the door? hmmmmmm..... Either that or I'll have to run AC all the time in the summer LOL I wonder how effiecient one or two of those oil filled radiator heaters would be? I'll focus on getting the ceiling closed off ASAP and then tackle the next steps.
Troy
roemax wrote:

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wrote:

My vote would be for a natural gas garage heater- the kind that mount on the ceiling. Why? Because natural gas prices are down 11% this year, while oil and electricity have gone up. I don't think any one of the big three are particularly safer than the others, so you may as well save some money.
The cheapest has got to be wood heat, but the safety of that route is a little iffy in a wood shop, depending on who you are, and how careful you can be- not to mention whether or not your insurance company will allow it at all.
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*snip*

I can see it now. You're too cold so you're burning your project wood for heat. A few minutes later, it's cold again and you've got no wood, no heat, and you wish you lived around the middle-northwest so you can get a pickup truck load of wood from that one guy's gloat.
:-)
Puckdropper
--
Wise is the man who attempts to answer his question before asking it.

To email me directly, send a message to puckdropper (at) fastmail.fm
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For the last couple of years I have used a 15,000 btu blue flame ventless propane heater I purchased off of ebay. I have it sitting on a milk crate in the garage, but it can be hung on the wall as the back of it is always quite cool.
My garage is insulated, but has many air gaps around the garage door and good infiltration at the light switch I haven't closed up in the drywall, some places in the ceiling with no drywall, but insulation.
When the heater is on, you can stick your hand up into the 8' ceilings and feel the hot air up there. Since there is substantial storage above my garage, you an also feel the heat rolling in from the heater across the garage when you open the access door.
You need to insulate those walls, that made a BIG difference in my little garage (15x22).
Propane ran me about $.50 an hour (propane in the $2.20 range), the same BTU's in electricity here would be less 1/2 of that. (7.2 per kWh)
Currently in the process of putting in a radiant floor heated shop. Planning on electrical water heater for that heatsource. Gas used to he half 6 years ago to use, but the price increased have made it MUCH closer, add that to the extra cost of the gas water heater, and you don't get a payback in the life of the water heater.
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Troy wrote:

Regarding the garage doors: Suggest buying a few 4'x8' sheets of celotex rigid insulating board and block off the INSIDE of the doors. You can cut it to fit with a bread knife. I use it every winter to close my basement windows.Ihave SLIGHTLY oversized cutouts and I tap them in place with a rubber mallet. Tape the seams with duct tape. I'd suggest 2" thick, as its rugged enough to last several seasons of removal and re-use. I use "Great Stuff" to seal the corners that get hurt. ~$100 Regarding Heat: I'd go with a "salamander" air-forced kero heater (The tube shaped thing) They throw huge amounts of heat fast, and since they are fan-forced, distribute the heat by default. ~$200
Your shop will freeze when not in use. If anything in there cannot freeze, then use 4mil plastic and staple-gun up a false ceiling and add a "milk-house" heater to keep the room above 32degrees when not in use.
My $.02 , MikeD , UpstateNY.
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