Why air combustion for gas appliances matters

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As an inspector I find a high percentage of basement remodels that do not follow the building code for combustion air required for gas-burning appliances.  Not only can this be hazardous to one’s health, but it can lead to loss of life.

When we begin with an unfinished basement housing gas-burning appliances we meet all requirements of needed combustion air to operate the gas water heater and gas furnace. No one lives in the basement, and no one sleeps close to the equipment. We have no restricted walls or units secured in air-tight spaces. All is good until the homeowner decides it is time to finish out the basement, and in those plans we often see the addition of a bedroom.

Unfortunately, many basements are built without permits and by some contractors that have no awareness of current building codes. The homeowner, who is usually cost-conscious, decides to not apply for a permit and thus avoid tax increases. They also forego the services of an independent inspector to check on the work being performed on their home. This usually leads to a series of issues that are expensive to undo, especially if a family member or friend were to become ill or lose their life as a result of the shortcuts taken.

When determining the amount of combustion air required, it is important to look at the space occupied by the appliance, the volume of air required and the type of construction. In a basement, if I were to find a small confined space housing the water heater and the furnace with a bedroom next to it, then all red flags would be raised. Without even checking on all other conditions, I immediately know we have a problem and provisions will need to be made immediately in order to protect the occupants of that home. Combustion air? Who needs it? Maybe you…


Stan-Garnet

Stan A. Garnet ACI, ASHI, ICC, is an ASHI-certified home inspector and an IRC Residential Combination Inspector with his company, Inspectors Associates, Inc., in Atlanta. Stan is the director of www.ConsultAHomePro.com, director of education at the We Teach House™ Institute and the developer of the See Thru-House at the Atlanta Home Show. For more information visit www.INeedAnInspector.com or e-mail [email protected]

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