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Electric furnace safety

Pandamonium

Golden Member
Aug 19, 2001
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I moved into my new apartment last month and the landlord is moving all the units to central air/heat systems from window air/radiator heat. The closet that the electric furnace was installed in was originally too small for the furnace. It was not deep enough for the furnace, and the wiring is such that technicians will need access to the rear of the furnace in order to service it. The furnace closet shares a wall with my bedroom closet, so the contractors basically ripped down that wall and now I have an electric furnace occupying about 1' of my closetspace. They do not intend to replace the wall because they "will need access" to service the furnace later. I don't feel comfortable putting my clothes next to a furnace. Are my concerns out of line or do these contractors suck?

PS: They also installed vents my bedroom closet door and the "furnace closet" door. I'm told that the vents are returns for the air to circulate. I don't like the idea of circulating air going into my closet either. All of my closets have been enclosed and lack airflow. I don't know what to make of my new "closet".
 

Exterous

Super Moderator
Jun 20, 2006
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You also have to keep a clear area around your furnace for safety/efficiency reasons. I forget how far though - IIRC about 6" - 12". You should also get a carbon monoxide alarm. Most new furnaces are pretty good about this but it sounds like they are corner cutters. Just make sure there is a fresh intake coming from outside to the furnace

Edit - the vents are probably for combustion purposes as well
 

imported_Baloo

Golden Member
Feb 2, 2006
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Originally posted by: Exterous
You also have to keep a clear area around your furnace for safety/efficiency reasons. I forget how far though - IIRC about 6" - 12". You should also get a carbon monoxide alarm. Most new furnaces are pretty good about this but it sounds like they are corner cutters. Just make sure there is a fresh intake coming from outside to the furnace

Edit - the vents are probably for combustion purposes as well
It's an electric furnace, carbon monoxide is not produced by electric furnaces. Clearance requirements vary. The gas furnace in my house requires only one inch on three sides, and 3 on the front. An electric furnace will require less than a gas furnace.

OP, is does the installation meet code? I would check.
 

bonkers325

Lifer
Mar 9, 2000
13,077
1
0
Originally posted by: Exterous
You also have to keep a clear area around your furnace for safety/efficiency reasons. I forget how far though - IIRC about 6" - 12". You should also get a carbon monoxide alarm. Most new furnaces are pretty good about this but it sounds like they are corner cutters. Just make sure there is a fresh intake coming from outside to the furnace

Edit - the vents are probably for combustion purposes as well
electric furnace. no combustion

OP - your are probably fine, but your clothes will definitely smell different considering all the air circulating through your closet space. i'd bring it up with the landlord or owner and see if u can find a way to alleviate this problem (perhaps having him install HEPA filters in the vents at their expense).
 

Pandamonium

Golden Member
Aug 19, 2001
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How do I go about checking code? I don't have any background in construction. There are two groups of contractors here- one group to install the equipment/vents/ductwork, and a separate electrician-only outfit. I spoke to a couple of people from both companies, and the electricians said "it'll be up to code". Is that what matters?
 

bonkers325

Lifer
Mar 9, 2000
13,077
1
0
Originally posted by: Pandamonium
How do I go about checking code? I don't have any background in construction. There are two groups of contractors here- one group to install the equipment/vents/ductwork, and a separate electrician-only outfit. I spoke to a couple of people from both companies, and the electricians said "it'll be up to code". Is that what matters?
if you asked them specifically "Will this electric furnace installation be up to code?" and they reply "Yes, it will be up to code." then it probably is up to code. you have no liability even if it isnt up to code anyway.
 

Pandamonium

Golden Member
Aug 19, 2001
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Hmmm. I'm not as concerned about liability as much as I am about whether my clothes would stay clean and safe in that closet. I kind of assumed that if there were a fire, I couldn't be held liable since, well, there's a furnace in my closet.
 

Exterous

Super Moderator
Jun 20, 2006
19,424
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Opps - sorry guys - I guess I fail at reading comprehension

As for codes - a lot of states have their state codes available somewhere on your states web site. However, alot of mechanical codes are nationally implemented and may not be available there. Check your local library - or if there is a University that teaches Architecture/Mechanical Engineering they will most likely have the codes available there.

As for things being up to code - NEVER assume. I worked at an Architect's office for a while and the number of things we had to correct because they weren't built to code was AMAZING. Unfortunately it was for a University so I do not know the procedures and requirements concerning getting inspection approval for residential areas and what your rights are in terms of getting it inspected
 

marvdmartian

Diamond Member
Apr 12, 2002
5,515
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OP, I'd go make friends with someone at your local building inspection office, and ask them a few questions like you've posed here. If they're worth their weight at their job, and start hearing funny stuff going on, I'd bet they'd ask to come over and look at it. Trust me, your landlord's "contractor" might've just been some handyman that did the work on the low-low, and didn't bother pulling permits or getting inspections done, which could lead to a dangerous situation for you in the future. Not good!

Also, their poor excuse of not wanting to close off the closet so that they can access the furnace later on is just a piss poor combination of laziness and cheapness. Why not put a removeable access panel there? Even if it needs a vent, they could put one in there, just the same as you would a wall. And it'll look a lot neater too, plus give you a better feeling about hanging your clothing in that closet.

Seriously, if your landlord isn't willing to entertain reasonable concerns you have about your living situation, I'd find a different place to live. Better alive & happy than dangerous and unhappy, living at Bubba's Apartment Complex, ya know?
 

NoShangriLa

Golden Member
Sep 3, 2006
1,652
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Newer electric furnace combustible clearance requirement is 0" for all sides, however local building code may have different requirements.

Central heat/AC require return air ways so that the blower (fan) can operate and also to move ambiance air into the furnace to heat/cool. You need not be worries because return air duct is there to make sure that your room & the rest of the building get sufficient heat/cool air. With out sufficient return air ducts, the building will have suffocating hot spot & freezing cold spots.


 

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