Attic furnaces are becoming more common in both residential and commercial buildings. While the traditional spot to locate a residential furnace has been the basement, there are many reasons why putting it in the attic is more convenient. Given the tight quarters of most attics, servicing an attic furnace may be more challenging, but the advantages can outweigh the annual filter replacement or the few occasions when servicing is required. Ideally, an attic furnace would have its own insulated utility room with enough space to service it easily, which would provide year-round protection from temperature fluctuations.
Basements once stored vegetables, canned goods and household extras. They then became part of the home, with bars and pool tables, bathrooms, bedrooms and play areas. Putting a furnace in the attic makes sense because it frees space for more family recreation room. In areas with high water tables, furnaces are installed on the main floor, taking up space. Putting them in the attic frees up valuable main floor living room.
A furnace in the attic supplies heat to the upper floors in a multi-level home. The ability to target and control heat to specific floors can save energy and make the climate more comfortable for inhabitants. For homes that convert the upper story to a rental, putting a furnace in the attic gives a dedicated heat supply to the renters, who can control (and pay for) their own heat.
An attic furnace is closer to the upper stories of a multi-level home. It will not require long lengths of pipe to deliver heat to the rooms as a basement furnace does. Air ducts lose a fair amount of heat through leakage, so shorter lengths are more efficient. Attic furnaces take advantage of the closer proximity to use shorter lengths of air duct.
Expanding and adding new floors to a home can make a second furnace necessary to heat it all. Placing it in the attic, where it is closer to the new floors, means not having to tear up the basement to provide room for a second furnace. The new furnace can be built into the attic during construction with access made convenient for the homeowner and air ducts maximized for delivering heat to the new areas efficiently.
In flood-prone areas, instaling a furnace in the attic provides protection. Even when furnaces are put on the main floor, floodwaters often overrun the first floor, causing severe damage to the unit. Just installing the furnace in the attic crawl way of a single story home gives protection from most flooding.
Toni Owen started writing in 1975. Owen is a journalist published in "Newsweek" and the "San Francisco Chronicle." She was an editor in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Banff, Alberta. Owen has a master's degree in English education and won the national C. Everett Koop Award.