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  1. #1
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    Default Furnace & Water Heater in Closet in Bedroom Closet

    Here's the setup I saw in a condo this morning. The 2nd floor bedroom closet has another utility closet attached to it that houses a mid-efficient gas fired forced air furnace and a mid-efficient gas fired water heater. Both units have open combustion chambers and vent to the exterior via single-wall mated to type B flue pipe. There are louvered doors on the bedroom closet and the utility closet to draw combustion make-up air. The return air vent in the bedroom is only a few feet from the bedroom and utility closet doors so the return vent is not at least 10' away from the furnace and water heater.

    Is it possible that the utility closet within a bedroom closet is a loophole that allows this type of setup? I told my client that normally only direct vent furnace and water heaters would be allowable in a bedroom closet but I'm not sure what type of wrinkle the closet-within-a-closet setup creates. To me, it is still wrong.

    Opinions?

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    Default Re: Furnace & Water Heater in Closet in Bedroom Closet

    Nick
    I know you're aware you have caught a gross violation of the IRC's M1701.4 - Prohibited Sources under the Chapter 17 - Combustion Air. The CAR location is also not approved as you have discovered. If you want chapter and verse perhaps EC Jerry will provide, but Iím sure you have a copy of the 2006 IRC or even earlier.

    Jerry McCarthy
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    Default Re: Furnace & Water Heater in Closet in Bedroom Closet

    Condo's aren't covered by the IRC are they? I'm sure it's still wrong, but I think you're governed by a different set of rules.

    Jim Robinson
    New Mexico, USA

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    Default Re: Furnace & Water Heater in Closet in Bedroom Closet

    OK Jim, you win:

    From the International Fuel Gas Code:
    SECTION 303 (IFGC) APPLIANCE LOCATION:
    303.1 General. Appliances shall be located as required by this section, specific requirements elsewhere in this code and the conditions of the equipment and appliance listing.
    303.2 Hazardous locations. Appliances shall not be located in a hazardous location unless listed and approved for the specific installation.
    303.3 Prohibited locations. Appliances shall not be located in, or obtain combustion air from, any of the following rooms or spaces:
    1. Sleeping rooms.
    2. Bathrooms.
    3. Toilet rooms.
    4. Storage closets.
    5. Surgical rooms.
    Exceptions:
    1. Direct-vent appliances that obtain all combustion air directly from the outdoors.
    2. Vented room heaters, wall furnaces, vented decorative appliances and decorative appliances for installation In vented solid fuel-burning fireplaces provided that the room meets the required volume criteria of Section 304.5.
    3. A single-wall-mounted unvented room heater equipped with an oxygen depletion safety shutoff system and installed in a bathroom, provided that the input rating does not exceed 6,000 Btu/h (1.76kW) and the bathroom meets the required volume criteria of Section 304.5.
    4. A single-wall-mounted unvented room heater equipped with an oxygen depletion safety shut off system and installed in a bedroom, provided that the input rating does not exceed 10,000 Btu and the bedroom meets the required volume criteria of Section 304.5.
    5. Appliances installed in an enclosure in which all combustion air is taken from the outdoors in accordance with Section304.6.Access to such enclosure shall be through a solid weather-stripped door, equipped with an approved self-closing device.

    From the 2006 Uniform Mechanical Code:
    2006 UMC - 904.0 Central Heating Boilers and Furnaces.
    904.1 Location: Central heating furnace and low-pressure boiler installations in bedrooms or bathrooms shall comply with one of the following:
    (1) Central heating furnaces and low-pressure boilers may be installed in a closet located in the bedroom or bathroom, provided the closet is equipped with a listed, gasketed door assembly and a listed, self-closing device. The self-closing door assembly shall meet the requirements of section 904.1.1. The door assembly shall be installed with a threshold and bottom door seal and shall meet the requirements of section 904.1.2. All combustion air for such installations shall be obtained from the outdoors. The closet shall be for the exclusive use of the central heating furnace or low-pressure boiler.
    (2) Central heating furnaces and low-pressure boilers shall be of the direct-vent type.
    904.1.1 Self-Closing Doors. Self-closing doors shall swing easily and freely and shall be equipped with a self-closing device to cause the door to close and latch each time it is opened. The closing mechanism shall not have a hold-open feature. [NFPA 80: 2-1.4.1]
    904.1.2 Gasketing: Gasketing on gasket doors or frames shall be furnished only in accordance with the published listings of the door, frame, or gasketing material manufacturer.
    Exception: Where acceptable to the Authority Having Jurisdiction, gasketing of noncombustible
    or limited-combustible material (see NFPA 220, Standard on Types of Building Construction) shall
    be permitted to be applied to the frame, provided closing and latching of the door are not inhibited. [NFPA 80: 2-4.8]

    Jerry McCarthy
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    Default Re: Furnace & Water Heater in Closet in Bedroom Closet

    Nick - Aside from the question of where the combustion air is coming from, unless the bedroom door itself is vented, or the bedroom is extremely large, it seems unlikely you'd have 50 cubic feet of space per 1,000 BTU.


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    Default Re: Furnace & Water Heater in Closet in Bedroom Closet

    The bedroom was wide open to the downstairs with a half wall around the stairwell and no door. Essentially, the upstairs bedroom was a loft so there was nothing to restrict the air flow into the room. Here's a pic I took in the bedroom of the half wall as it had no safety railing around it in the area of the stairs leading to the rear deck (and no handrail on the steps).

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    Default Re: Furnace & Water Heater in Closet in Bedroom Closet

    A handrail may not be required. I am not as versed on building codes, but for the '06 IRC no handrail is required if there is less than 4 risers.


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    Default Re: Furnace & Water Heater in Closet in Bedroom Closet

    You need a rail beside the stairs where it looks over the staiwell. You cannot have a knee high or less wall to protect one from falling down the open stairwell.

    Ted


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    Default Re: Furnace & Water Heater in Closet in Bedroom Closet

    Not if its less than 30 inches in vertical height above the floor Ted.

    Jerry McCarthy
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    Default Re: Furnace & Water Heater in Closet in Bedroom Closet

    I am talking about the small platform in front of the door looking over into the stairwell. I would venture it is a 7 or 8 foot drop to the bottom of the stairwell at the left of the platform. If I am correct that to the left of that half wall is the stairwell coming up to the second floor.


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    Default Re: Furnace & Water Heater in Closet in Bedroom Closet

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Menelly View Post
    You need a rail beside the stairs where it looks over the staiwell. You cannot have a knee high or less wall to protect one from falling down the open stairwell.
    The wall must be at least 36" high above the landing, and, be 36" high above the risers, which likely means the wall is the correct height for the floor, but not for any of the stairway risers/treads.

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    Default Re: Furnace & Water Heater in Closet in Bedroom Closet

    Thanks Jerry

    I was asuming That was the stairwell to the left.

    Ted Menelly
    Castle Home Inspection Services
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    Default Re: Furnace & Water Heater in Closet in Bedroom Closet

    The wall must be at least 36" high above the landing, and, be 36" high above the risers, which likely means the wall is the correct height for the floor, but not for any of the stairway risers/treads.
    36" at flat surface areas for the IRC, and 34"at the sloped guard at the stairs.... correct?

    Also, if this falls under the building code (not residential) doesn't it step up to something around 42"................. man I wish we had one set of codes.

    By the way--- Oregon Residential Specialty Code (based off of the '06 IRC) modified the stair guard requirement. Instead of a 4 3/8" gap they decided children were bigger-- ours is now 5" I just caught that the other day since I mostly study off of the IRC.


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    Default Re: Furnace & Water Heater in Closet in Bedroom Closet

    The building inspector in Neptune Beach Florida use to maintain 42"

    Ted


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    Default Re: Furnace & Water Heater in Closet in Bedroom Closet

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Menelly View Post
    The building inspector in Neptune Beach Florida use to maintain 42"
    That's because under the old Standard codes the height of a guardrail was 42". You had to go to an entirely different section to find the 36" height allowed for residences.

    That's why I always used to push the 42" height, and if the builder did not know about the other 36" section, I let the 42" height ride. Also, the old codes address the 36" height as "within" the dwelling unit, meaning the balcony outside was still 42" anyway.

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    Default Re: Furnace & Water Heater in Closet in Bedroom Closet

    That installation is a time bomb waiting to go off.

    Due to the return duct configuration and how it is connected to the two other rooms I doubt any combustion air is being provided to those appliances.
    If there is air being provided there is a good possibility it is coming from the flue of the water heater.

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    Default Re: Furnace & Water Heater in Closet in Bedroom Closet

    In Nick's photo of that 3 step stair leading to the exterior I neglected to notice there was a stair well (or some other sort of drop-off) on the left side looking at the door and my comment was on the less than 30 inch height of the 3 step platform on the right side. Egg on face and I'm looking properly ashamed.

    Davidís comment made me look again and it looks like the gas appliances in the closet are getting plenty of combo air through the open louvered doors and there was something about the bedroom being a loft and open to a large space?

    Jerry McCarthy
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    Default Re: Furnace & Water Heater in Closet in Bedroom Closet

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry McCarthy View Post
    Davidís comment made me look again and it looks like the gas appliances in the closet are getting plenty of combo air through the open louvered doors and there was something about the bedroom being a loft and open to a large space?
    You are correct Jerry. The bedroom next to that utility closet was wide open with not wall or door separating it from the downstairs area. Essentially, the bedroom was an open loft.


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    Default Re: Furnace & Water Heater in Closet in Bedroom Closet

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Ostrowski View Post
    The bedroom next to that utility closet was wide open with not wall or door separating it from the downstairs area. Essentially, the bedroom was an open loft.
    Nick,

    Regardless of how open the "bedroom" was, and whether or not the "bedroom" was a loft, it was, nonetheless ... a "bedroom", which is a room for sleeping, i.e., it is a "sleeping room".

    As such (being a "sleeping room") that room/area is a prohibited source for obtaining combustion air from it.

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    Default Re: Furnace & Water Heater in Closet in Bedroom Closet

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Nick,

    Regardless of how open the "bedroom" was, and whether or not the "bedroom" was a loft, it was, nonetheless ... a "bedroom", which is a room for sleeping, i.e., it is a "sleeping room".

    As such (being a "sleeping room") that room/area is a prohibited source for obtaining combustion air from it.
    I wasn't debating the point of the poor furnace/water heater setup Jerry. Just confirming for WC Jerry that there was an open stairwell on the other side of that halfwall and a safety railing was needed (although my reply admittedly didn't state that very clearly).

    Furnace and water heater........bad.
    Halfwall with no railing............bad.

    Also, look at this little tidbit from the same place. A diamond plate iron stairwell that ran from the 1st-to-2nd floor. As you got to the top three steps, the riser height variances were 6.5", then 6", then 9". I almost lost my footing the first time I tried walking down the steps. My client asked if it could be fixed and my reply was "Yes, if you pull out the staircase and redo it".

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    Last edited by Nick Ostrowski; 07-04-2008 at 09:33 AM.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Furnace & Water Heater in Closet in Bedroom Closet

    Nick,

    My apologies for mis-reading what you posted.

    On that stair ... is it an optical illusion, or ... is that top riser different measurements on the right side than on the left side of that riser?

    What is the height of the opening in the riser? Greater than 4"?

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    Default Re: Furnace & Water Heater in Closet in Bedroom Closet

    No problem Jerry. This thread took a couple twists and turns off the original path.

    As for the top step, yes, it is sloped and varies in height from one end to the other by about 1/2". The spacing between the risers was OK (not more than 4).


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    Default Re: Furnace & Water Heater in Closet in Bedroom Closet

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Ostrowski View Post
    As for the top step, yes, it is sloped and varies in height from one end to the other by about 1/2".
    Nick,

    Another factor to consider, then, is the slope of the tread.

    From the 2006 IRC.
    - R311.5.5 Stairway walking surface. The walking surface of treads and landings of stairways shall be sloped no steeper than one unit vertical in 48 inches horizontal (2-percent slope).

    Typically, that applies to 'in the direction of travel' as the 'cross-slope' is typically restrained within the riser height variation limitations.

    A typical 36" wide stair would be allowed to slope 3/4" cross-slope based on the above code section (1/4" per foot), however, that would exceed the maximum allowed variation between treads (not to mention just that one tread) of 3/8".

    Take your typical 12" deep tread (in non-dwelling unit stairs) and the tread would be allowed to slope 1/4" nosing-to-riser (in the direction of travel).

    Take your typical 10" deep tread (in dwelling units) and the tread would only be allowed to slope a little over 3/16" in the direction of travel.

    Just another dimension (pun intended) to consider for stairways.

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    Default Re: Furnace & Water Heater in Closet in Bedroom Closet

    I followed up with my client regarding this issue to see how things turned out. The builder, after insisting everything was installed to code, later admitted it was not up to code and is now switching out the furnace and water heater to direct vent models. There are other condo units in the same building so I'm sure the other furnace and water heater installs are incorrect as well.

    As for the staircase, I don't know how that turned out.


  25. #25
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    Default Re: Furnace & Water Heater in Closet in Bedroom Closet

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Ostrowski View Post
    I followed up with my client regarding this issue to see how things turned out. The builder, after insisting everything was installed to code, later admitted it was not up to code and is now switching out the furnace and water heater to direct vent models. There are other condo units in the same building so I'm sure the other furnace and water heater installs are incorrect as well.

    As for the staircase, I don't know how that turned out.
    Good job Nick! I mean Batman.

    Last edited by David Banks; 07-23-2008 at 08:33 AM. Reason: To add Batman

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