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Heat Air Furnace on Top Floor Next to Bedroom

Hello,


I am looking to buy a new home, In that home the Heat Air Furnace is on the Second(top) floor and next to the master bedroom. The Seller agent is saying they placed it here to provide proper heating to entire home, the furnace can easily provide air from this location to the entire home. But if the furnace get's old and starts generating noise I am worried that it will be difficult to sleep in the bedroom next to it. We have asked the builder to move the furnace to garage, but they are saying that it needs architectural changes and it costs lot of money. What should i do now?


Thanks

  • February 23 2014 - Seattle
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Answers (8)

Sunnyview, a heat pump is ALWAYS located outside the house!  It wouldn't work if it was located inside.  That would be like opening the door on your refrigerator to cool your house.  But I will agree you do need to consider location you put the heat pump, and also some heat pumps are noisier than others.

Dan, I was assuming that the main noise that was a concern wasn't the fan, but the furnace actually burning.  On a cheap furnace that can be a significant amount of noise.  As a practical matter though, you're going to hear the fan wherever the furnace is located due to the ductwork.

As to the cost, I was just comparing that to the cost of moving the furnace in an existing design.  Just a wild guess, but I would imagine a builder would easily want at least $10,000 to do that, assuming they would be willing to do it at all.
  • February 24 2014
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Profile picture for Dan Tabit

Having spent 7 years in the HVAC business, let me address a heat pump as a solution. First, the cost is not cheap, depending on the size of the house you would be adding thousands to the cost.  Second, because a heat pump, running in the heating mode runs almost all the time, any fan housing in the current location may be subject to sound issues sooner than later in this application.  On the other hand, running all the time, while it is working well you could grow accustom to the background noise, but that is a very personal thing.  I realize not everyone does. 
Insulating the wall space would be helpful, inexpensive and suggested, but there is still no guarantee you'll be fully satisfied.  If you are truly a "sound sensitive" you may want to pick another house or pay the cost to relocate if possible. 

  • February 24 2014
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" If you're set on this house, rather than move the furnace (which I agree would be prohibitively expensive), ask about adding on a heat pump. "

A heat pump is not a good idea. While furnaces are relatively quiet, most heat pumps are not even if located outside the house. If noise is a key issue for you, stay away from heat pumps. The supposed "efficiency" is simply not worth the noise.

A better option may be to leave the furnace where it is and double insulate the wall between the attic and bedroom. You can also ask to add noise reducing rubber/cork pads under the unit and on each run of pipe that is fastened to the joyces. They are inexpensive if done at time of install and significantly reduce noise even in quiet units.
  • February 24 2014
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One more thing occurred to me.  If you're set on this house, rather than move the furnace (which I agree would be prohibitively expensive), ask about adding on a heat pump.  That would not only be more efficient 95% of the time (basically when it's not extremely cold out), but also it would reduce the number of times that the furnace ignites.  That should make it quieter most the time (except when it's very cold out).  And you'll gain A/C in the summer months, and prolong the life of your furnace!

Of course when it is cold out you might notice the furnace more, because it's something you're not used to.
  • February 24 2014
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I usually agree with Dan, but this time I'm going to disagree.  If you're already predisposed to be bothered by the noise, I think even the normal noise of the furnace will bother you in the future.  Yes you will "get used to it" but that doesn't mean you won't wish is wasn't there.  Also I would note that in the unlikely event you own the house longer than the life of the furnace, quieter furnaces are more expensive, so that will be an additional expense.

For the agents from out of the area, homes built in the 60s and earlier tended to have furnaces located inside the house, typically in a closet.  I'm not sure if it was only noise, or also the fact that garages were becoming more common, but the garage became the most common location for a furnace.  That has the advantage not only of being quieter, but also makes servicing and replacement easier.  Then for some reason I really don't understand, furnaces started getting moved inside, usually to the attic, but sometimes to a closet.  The attic location would be less noisy, but servicing more difficult.  I still prefer the garage, but I don't know that I'd make it a deal breaker.
  • February 24 2014
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Profile picture for Dan Tabit
Anil,
Home noises can be perceived very differently by different people.  Chances are if you are still living in the home when the furnace gets old and starts sounding differently, you'll hardly notice.  We are more sensitive to sound when we are in a new environment.  Once we've been there a while, fans, roads, appliances all tend to fade into the background for most of us.  If you are especially sensitive to noise, find a different design.  They are correct about the cost and delays of moving a furnace.  It's not a simple thing, so consider if this is the house for you or if you'll just get used to it.
  • February 23 2014
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Anil, many homes now have what is called a split system, where the the furnace is in the attic and has 2 copper coolant lines that go to the condenser outside the home. This is where you see the fan and the motor, which make the most noise. It almost sounds like the house was a 1 story and had the furnace in the attic and maybe built on a room. If you had a home inspection on the property, the inspector should have told you what the R rating on the insulation is and if the builder used it on the walls, providing a better sound barrier and double or triple panes on the windows will help trap out noise. Retrofitting the home to move the furnace and coolant lines is a big expense, and depending on the ducts layout you could lose efficiency on the unit. Try and keep in mind that the motor on the condenser is the loudest part of the system. You might find more information at energy upgrade and gets a HERS or LEED rating depending on your area. Good luck 
  • February 23 2014
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Is this a new construction home your buying? no basement? "agent says its placed here to provide proper heating to entire home"... heat rises does it not? I'm not sure what state your in but I do agree its a little odd in my area to see that. I would sit down with the builder first and the town building inspector second to make these inquiry's and hear their responses, opinions and options.

You can then make a more educated determination how to proceed... be it moving on or making an offer subject to moving the furnace to other area on ground or basement level or moving forward with the purchase.

best of luck!
  • February 23 2014
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