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Is there any reason I should not wall in my furnace, hot water heater, and oil tank in the basement?

I have an unfinished basement and am planning on finishing it a little bit at a time. I was wondering if there's any concerns with surrounding an oil furnace, hot water heater, oil tank, well pump, etc with walls, maybe building a closet around them.
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Posted 2016-01-07T17:53:49+0000  by ChristianVolet ChristianVolet

Hi ChristianVolet, here is a check list for when this question comes up, hopefully it will help you too. 

1. File for permits and ask for inspections from the local government.  The inspectors and permit process can help you avoid problems in the future if you follow through and keep good records.

2. Don’t enclose a gas fired furnace or water heater in a small space without making provisions for combustion air vents.  A louvered door, or top and bottom wall vents are easy to install and will allow safe operation of these appliances.

3. Don’t separate the hot water heater from the floor drain in the basement, without making other provisions to collect and dispose of the water that will leak from the water heater TPR valve and tank when it fails.

4. Allow room for access, maintenance and removal/replacement of the furnace, and hot water heater – that does not require taking down walls or framing. 

5. Pay attention to requirements for combustible clearances for the furnace, water heater and the vent systems.  The furnace has a label on the inside of the cabinet that spells out what is required for the furnace.  Single wall vent piping requires a minimum of 6” clearance from anything that is combustible (this includes paper on the face of sheetrock).  Double wall vents require a minimum of 1” clearance.

5. Don’t enclose the electrical panel in a manner that restricts access for inspection and maintenance.  A minimum clearance of 36” is required in front of and to each side of the panel. 

7. Provide access for with removable covers for plumbing cleanouts and valves that may need to be operated to winterize exterior piping and faucets.

8. Do some research regarding the best methods for water proofing and insulating the walls, consider leaving access and storage space between the finished walls and the basement foundation walls for access, maintenance and inspection, and to help avoid water problems in your finished areas.

9. Don’t enclose the sump pit and pump in small spaces or carpet over them.  Also, don’t carpet over floor drains, as the traps may dry out and allow sewer gas to enter the home, or mold and mildew may develop in the carpet over the drain.

10. Consult with a licensed electrician for wiring and other electrical issues, as you may unknowingly create shock, fire or other hazards.

11. Make sure that any drain piping is properly vented.  Codes change frequently and some now allow for vacuum vents, which can be much less expensive, that adding vertical vent piping up through the structure.

12. Take care to insulate supply piping that is enclosed behind the walls as dead air spaces may have cold spots and burst pipes may result in cold weather conditions.

13. Electrical panels may not be located in bedroom closets.  Gas fired appliance may not be located in bedrooms, bathrooms, or their closets.  Bedrooms must have two means of safe exit and normal basement windows do not qualify.

14. Don’t notch the floor framing or make other structural modifications without review by a qualified engineer.

15. Do make adequate provisions for heating/cooling supply and return air vents in order to provide for good air circulation and comfort throughout the year.  I believe return vents in the basement should be near the floor, to capture cold air in the winter, which is the season when you are likely to have the greatest need for use of the heating and cooling system in the basement area.

Posted 2016-01-08T14:01:29+0000  by Angelo_HD_CHI
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