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Furnace access in bedroom

Pilotjoe

Registered User
Joined
Sep 16, 2020
Messages
2
Location
San diego
Hello
I have an attic space that shares a wall with a bedroom. The attic space houses my high efficiency furnace unit with all vents and exhaust ports thru the roof. The attic has a fire suppression sprinkler system and the furnace installation meets all space requirements. My question is whether or not I can have an access panel from the bedroom into the attic space to use if the furnace needs annual service or eventually replacement. I know the furnace cannot be in a bedroom closet or in the actual bedroom. But what about an access panel? Thank you.
 

Pilotjoe

Registered User
Joined
Sep 16, 2020
Messages
2
Location
San diego
There is an access panel now but a “for hire building inspection service” says it’s illegal. I’m trying to find out if it is.
 

Robert

Registered User
Joined
Jan 29, 2016
Messages
228
Location
Pinole, CA
I believe it's allowed since the furnace is high efficiency. If it's not, then no. The access panel needs to be min. size to remove equipment. Is this the only attic access?
 

cda

Sawhorse
Joined
Oct 19, 2009
Messages
18,706
Location
Basement
If you can take a picture

Make it a link and post

Or Flickr or drop box or

would help to see what you have

One or two story house???
 

ICE

Moderator
Joined
Jun 23, 2011
Messages
9,103
Location
California concrete jungle
We have a longstanding policy that if an attic access to a furnace is within a sleeping room it would require a special access as per 904.1. I realize that the attic is not mentioned as a problem in the code but we have done it that way forever.

High efficiency was mentioned here as getting a pass but high efficiency is not the same as direct vent type which does get a pass.
 

Ty J.

Sawhorse
Joined
Aug 2, 2017
Messages
1,446
Location
Washington State
We have a longstanding policy that if an attic access to a furnace is within a sleeping room it would require a special access as per 904.1. I realize that the attic is not mentioned as a problem in the code but we have done it that way forever.

High efficiency was mentioned here as getting a pass but high efficiency is not the same as direct vent type which does get a pass.
Why not accept a gasket around the opening? An air-tight seal is typically already required per the energy codes. A gasket is all that your garage man door has, and far more risk associated therein.
 

mark handler

Sawhorse
Joined
Oct 25, 2009
Messages
10,783
Location
So. CA
Why not accept a gasket around the opening? An air-tight seal is typically already required per the energy codes. A gasket is all that your garage man door has, and far more risk associated therein.
THEY NEED THAT FOR THE ENERGY CODE
 

ICE

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Jun 23, 2011
Messages
9,103
Location
California concrete jungle
Why not accept a gasket around the opening? An air-tight seal is typically already required per the energy codes. A gasket is all that your garage man door has, and far more risk associated therein.
The garage man door will not open to a sleeping room. 904, 904.1, 904.1.1, 904.1.2 contain all that is required and oddly enough a field applied gasket is allowed. The field applied gasket can only be applied to the door frame and must be approved by the AHJ. The self-closing feature is a problem when the access is in the ceiling but I have seen it done.
 

hamnajain

Registered User
Joined
Sep 23, 2020
Messages
1
Location
Dubai
Just guessing from experience. It's worth hiring an HVAC guy to tell you. Whoever you have to move the furnace can tell you what's needed.
 

Sifu

Gold Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2011
Messages
1,358
Not sure we have enough information. The other access panel question wasn't answered. Is it a direct vent? Not sure what code books are being cited but the 2018 IFGC 303.3 & IRC 2406.2 says you can't locate the appliance in a room that opens "only into such rooms". Does the attic have openings to any other room? Does it have ventilation openings to the outside. How big is the attic space (does it meet or exceed the volume requirements for indoor combustion air)?

I think the intent of the code is that the appliance combustion chamber being open to these rooms carries a risk, which should be mitigated by other combustion air sources and ventilation. If it is in an attic, where it obtains combustion air from the attic space which is vented, and likely meets the volume requirements, and is behind a gasketed door I wouldn't see an issue. The intent behind a self-closing device is so that it doesn't rely on human intervention to remember to close it. Not sure I see an attic access door as something that would be forgotten. If the appliance can't off-gas into the room, or be back-drafted by local exhaust, or deplete the oxygen in the sleeping room, I wouldn't have an issue. I think the intent of this section is for closets, mechanical rooms and other small spaces adjacent to bathrooms. If it is in a tiny attic, with poor ventilation, then I would see a potential issue.
 

ICE

Moderator
Joined
Jun 23, 2011
Messages
9,103
Location
California concrete jungle
As I stated earlier, it has been our policy to not allow an unprotected attic access in a bedroom if there is a fuel fired appliance in that attic. However, when the learned people here at the forum disagree with me on a topic I usually take another look. So I asked a mechanical engineer that I respect. His reply mirrored Sifu's post.....with a bit more. He said that he sees my point and given the vagaries of our profession (different layouts, differing inspector skills) he is in agreement with the correction but would not be able to back me up with code if I were challenged. He said that he would take the issue to the head mechanical engineer and get back to me.

When he got back to me it was a decision to enforce the energy code with a functional gasket that seals the access panel. So here is an example of a longstanding policy that has been eliminated. The thing that's wrong with this is that my AHJ will not broadcast the new policy so myself and a few other inspectors will be the only ones that are aware of the change.

Then I consider those vagaries. I consider who we have for inspectors. I think that the longstanding policy was that way for a reason. But for the learned people out there...it is your choice.
 

Sifu

Gold Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2011
Messages
1,358
I too have seen standard operating procedures or ways of doing things that I didn't understand until I took into account the critical thinking ability and skills of those the procedures were originally written for. As I have said before, the code can't cover everything, and sometimes it relies on the inspector to apply his/her knowledge and interpretation of the intent. When that can't be relied upon then backing up to the black and white of a policy is the only answer.
 

mtlogcabin

Sawhorse
Joined
Oct 17, 2009
Messages
7,751
Location
Big Sky Country
2018 IRC
G2406.2 (303.3) Prohibited locations.
Appliances shall not be located in sleeping rooms, bathrooms, toilet rooms, storage closets or surgical rooms, or in a space that opens only into such rooms or spaces, except where the installation complies with one of the following:

5. The appliance is installed in a room or space that opens only into a bedroom or bathroom, and such room or space is used for no other purpose and is provided with a solid weather-stripped door equipped with an approved self-closing device. Combustion air shall be taken directly from the outdoors in accordance with Section G2407.6.
 
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