Though it’s not as common as traditional furnace setups, some homes feature a furnace that’s installed in either the attic of the house or in a crawl space. It might seem at first that this would be inconvenient compared to standard furnace locations, and in some ways it can be. There are some advantages to having an attic-mounted furnace or a furnace in the crawl space, however. If you’re thinking of buying a home (or recently bought one) that makes use of one of these alternate furnace locations, it was probably done to take advantage of one or more of these factors.
With that said, you may have some questions about your furnace and how to maintain it. First, the good news: A lot of your maintenance will be about the same as you would have with a more traditionally located furnace. There are a few specific things that you may be wondering about, though, so here are some things that you should know about using and maintaining these furnaces.
Filtration and Air Flow
Most of the time, when people get nervous about a furnace that’s mounted in the attic or crawl space it’s because they think they’ll have to venture up there every time a filter needs to be changed. For the most part, airflow with an attic-mounted furnace or one that’s in the crawl space will be pretty much the same as a more traditional furnace setup. The thermostat is still on the wall, there are still vents in every room, and the air return is still inside the main house. This means that maintenance tasks like changing out your air filter will be pretty much the same as it would be for any other furnace, as the filter is placed in the air return.
Attic and Crawl Space Advantages
As mentioned before, there are a few advantages to placing a furnace in the attic or a crawl space. Some of these, such as a possibly reduced installation cost, will only affect the homeowner who installed the furnace in the first place. Even if you bought a home that already had a furnace installed in the attic or crawl space, though, there are still advantages that you can enjoy.
One of the biggest is that this installation type frees up space in the home that would otherwise be taken up by furnace equipment. If that doesn’t sound like that big of a deal, think about what you could do with an extra closet or a little bit of additional storage space that’s convenient to rooms like the kitchen. Depending on the layout of your house, an alternate location for your furnace could also simplify the ductwork layout and make checking for damage or other ductwork issues much easier.
Accessing the Furnace
There may be a few times when the location of your furnace becomes inconvenient, such as if your pilot light goes out and you actually have to venture into the attic or crawl space to relight it. In most cases the pilot light will be situated to make it convenient to access, but you still have to get to the furnace unit, which can be annoying at least. Bigger issues may arise if you run afoul of actual hardware issues, as the more enclosed space and slightly different layout of the furnace can make some forms of maintenance more difficult.
In these cases, it’s best to call an HVAC pro for any maintenance beyond the basics. They’ll have a better understanding of how the furnace is laid out and just the tools that they need to fix it even in a tighter space.