Basement shop - dealing with the furnace

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Forum topic by sry posted 07-15-2008 12:55 AM 11429 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View sry's profile


147 posts in 4622 days

07-15-2008 12:55 AM

Topic tags/keywords: basement shop dust collection furnace

I’ve managed to convince the wife to let me have part of the basement as a shop area while I try to figure out what this woodworking thing is all about. The room is about 14’ square, with appx 4×4’ in the far corner occupied by our incredibly ancient gas furnace. I’ve been reading that there is the potential for fire trouble with furnaces and airborne dust, and even more than that my wife is allergic to pretty much everything on the planet (including me, probably), so I don’t want dust getting in there and circulating through the house.

Space (and budget) is at a premium here, so the plan I have in my head is using my shop vac with filter bags and a HEPA filter, an upgraded furnace filter, and probably a box fan/furnace filter ambient air cleaner.
Is it a big enough potential problem that I should probably try to build a wall around the furnace section? Is it reasonable to think that my dust collection strategy above could keep enough dust out of the air to not be a problem?

Any suggestions all you experts out there could give would be much appreciated.

6 replies so far

View Betsy's profile


3394 posts in 4910 days

#1 posted 07-15-2008 01:30 AM

Dust is a huge issue. Dust can explode—- it happens, thankfully not often. That said, you can never be too safe.

You can get a small dust collector for not too much money. I’d really look into doing this. Probably could get a small dust collector for less than it would take to wall in the furnace.

Be good about watching your filter and keeping them clean.

Anything you can do to decrease dust by the furnace and in the house as a whole is a good thing.

Good luck and welcome to the slippery slope of woodworking!

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View lew's profile


13317 posts in 4770 days

#2 posted 07-15-2008 02:18 AM


My shop is also in the basement and shares the space with an oil fired, hot air furnace. My dust collection consists of and ambient air filtration/circulation and a basement window blower to pull air out of the shop.

The biggest problem I face is to remember not to run the window unit in the winter. If the furnace kicks on, the widow unit pulls exhaust fumes into to basement instead of going up the chimney.

Before anyone chastises me, it has only happened once- my wife came home and reset the thermostat. I was wearing my dust mask and didn’t notice the smell. I put 2 smoke detectors near the furnace to alert me if it were to happen again.

Even with all your efforts, I suspect your wife will notice an increase in the amount of dusting she will be having you do.


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Taigert's profile


593 posts in 4855 days

#3 posted 07-15-2008 05:01 AM

First off what I would do is seal off the furnace room (only if you have access to a outside wall) with a door that you can put a seal on like weather stripping. Then go to a supplier for furnaces and buy a Barometric Damper they will need the make, model, BTU rating of your furnace. This information will tell them what size damper you need. The damper goes in the outside wall to bring in outside air when the furnace starts up. The furnace needs whats called “combustion air” to prduce the flame. Next while your at the funace spplier check on 4” or 5” pleated filters, they provide you with frame sizes required to install the filter into the return air. If you don’t feel comfartable doing this your self you should be able to find a compamy to do this for about $300 – $400.
This would take care of both your problems safely, and keep the wife healthy. You still need to have a dust collection system. $300 – $400 may sound like a lot but thats only a couple of trips to the Dr’s office with allergy problems.
I used to do HVAC/R for a living.

-- Taigert - Milan, IN

View Rob 's profile


216 posts in 4682 days

#4 posted 07-15-2008 06:52 AM

My furnace is in my shop and I haven’t had an issue with it. My wife has a lot of allergies and asthma as well and it doesn’t seem to affect her more. No more dust thoughout the house either. Perhaps I have a fantastic furnace; not sure, I’m not really up on that sort of thing. Or perhaps I’ll have problems in the future; we have only spent one winter here. I’ll stay tuned to this topic though. Maybe I should take some preventative measures.

View weberthel's profile


3 posts in 4058 days

#5 posted 02-02-2010 11:44 PM


I’m setting up a new shop in my basement myself. I had a dedicated building at my previous home and was just as concered with the furnace in my shop then as I am now in my basement.

Dust explosions are rare. You’d have to get the exact particle size distribution and concentration present with something to ignite it to make it explode but that said it can happen so take every precaution you can. #1 dust collector. Even if you buy a small portable unit you hook to each machine and tool as you use them. #2 air filters / cleaners. they work. #3 air ventilation. Exchange or exhaust the air #4 don’t forget about your lungs! Dust mask or resipirator on your face man! #5 generate less dust: think about scrapers instead of sanding whenever possible in your work, hand tools in application instead of mechanical means that tend to generate and disperse dust more readily. Wet mop instead of sweeping the floors can help too.

Oh and I prefer Lemon scented Pledge for when you’ll be dusting the endtables and such …

-- Bill Berthel

View Mogebier's profile


170 posts in 4047 days

#6 posted 02-05-2010 04:30 AM

My “shop” is in the laundry room. I have enough floor space to pull out 1 tool at a time :)
The furnace and water heater are in the corner and there is also a chest freezer. The dog sleeps there too. I have never had any problems. If I have to do any heavy-duty cutting or routing, I just take my tools outside.

-- You can get more with a kind word and a 2 by 4, than you can with just a kind word.

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