If you're installing a new furnace and you're thinking about putting it in the attic of your home, there are several things you need to consider. Before doing a DIY installation, you may want to check out the following tips to ensure that the furnace is safe and efficient. These ideas can also help you hone in on concerns or questions if you are having a professional handle the job for you.
1. Make Sure the Attic Can Handle the Weight of the Furnace
Before considering any other aspect of installing a furnace in your home, you need to make sure that the attic can handle the weight of a furnace. In many cases, attics are simply designed for storage, and they can't hold the weight of a furnace. However, you may be able to add reinforcements if you want to put the furnace in the attic and you are worried about the weight capacity.
You should also think about accessibility. Will you easily be able to get to the furnace to change filters or do repairs as needed? Similarly, ask yourself if a repair person can easily access that space. Ideally, you want a staircase or ladder going into the attic, and you also want ample room around the furnace to service it.
2. Consider Insulating the Attic
If you are putting in a condensing furnace, the furnace produces moisture. In most cases, you will need to have an outlet for that moisture. For instance, some people hook up hosepipes to drain the water into a laundry sink or another drain in part of their home. However, finding an outlet for the water is not the only issue.
If your attic is cold and uninsulated, the moisture from the furnace may freeze. That can cause your furnace to become damaged and need expensive repairs. To prevent issues such as this, you may want to add insulation to your attic.
3. Put Heat Tape on the Condensate Drain
In addition to insulating your attic, you may want to add heat tape to your condensate drain. That helps to prevent the condensate from freezing. Alternatively, you may want to add insulation around any drain pipes or similar parts extruding from your furnace.
4. Use Efficient Ducts
When you set up a furnace in your attic, you can connect ductwork to the furnace to bring the heat to the rest of your home. However, you need to ensure that that heated air actually gets to the rest of your home. You certainly don't want it to get stuck in your attic, and if your attic is cold, the heat will naturally leave the ducts and bleed into the attic. To reduce or eliminate that effect, you need to use well-insulated ductwork.
5. Insulate Supply and Return Plenums
Finally, you also need to pay attention to the supply and return plenums — these are often referred to as the heart of the system. Ideally, if you put your furnace in the attic, both of these items need to be well insulated. If they are not insulated, you can lose heat and drive up your bills, as indicated above in the discussion on ductwork. In addition, if the air that returns to the furnace is too cold, that can cause condensation to occur in the main heat exchanger as cool air hits hot air. That can cause failure in the heat exchanger, which can necessitate expensive repairs or even require a full furnace replacement.
To get more tips on installing a furnace in the attic or anywhere else, contact a furnace rep directly. They can help answer your questions.