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Installing a furnace is a challenging DIY project, but with the proper tools, knowledge and some helpful tips, the job is less onerous and costs much less than hiring a contractor. When planning to install a furnace, it is important to first weigh the furnace fuel costs and choose a furnace with the appropriate heat capacity for the building. It is equally important to abide by municipal building regulations, install the furnace in a centrally located area, and get the work inspected by a professional contractor.
Energy costs never seem to decline, but in some geographic regions one type of fuel may cost less than another. Generally, electric furnaces are the easiest to install and maintain, but they cost the most to operate. Natural gas is a more economical choice, but service is limited in rural areas and the cost for installing a pipeline may outweigh any savings from fuel usage. Heating oil is a common choice for rural residents, but the prices greatly fluctuate and energy costs may be difficult to budget. When selecting a DIY furnace, consider not only the initial cost of the appliance, but also the expected costs of fuel.
The DIY furnace heating capacity must be accurately sized to the building. Every furnace is rated according to its thermal output, called British Thermal Units (BTUs), and by its efficiency. The formula for determining the building's required BTUs depends on a number of components: the square footage, climate, windows and doors, indoor temperature preferences and insulation of the home. Heating and cooling professionals determine the necessary furnace capacity using a complex formula. For a DIY furnace project, the regional building codes department can offer some help and present the homeowner with a general guide of common furnace sizes for similar-sized homes in the area.
Before any do-it-yourselfer intiates the DIY furnace, the local building codes department should be contacted. Some municipalities require detailed plans or data of the installation and a concurring inspection of the completed work, to ensure that the work is done safely and properly. Select governments may even forbid an unlicensed worker to install the furnace. Failure to abide by local governing codes may result in fines and removal of the installation. The codes department is a bastion of information and can provide the do-it-yourselfer with a plethora of helpful information and guidance.
When installing the DIY furnace, the appliance works best installed in a centralized location. Most furnaces are installed in the subterranean basement of the building, since the basement is usually spacious. In the center of the basement, the furnace ducts can be made in shorter runs, making the furnace more efficient and saving energy. Ductwork is usually the most tedious and labor-intensive job, so any reduction in duct length aids the installer in both labor and cost of materials.