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The Complete Floor Furnace Guide

By on Feb 5, 2015
The Complete Floor Furnace Guide

Your home's heating and air conditioning system is most likely the costliest mechanical system or appliance you own, but one way to lower those large initial costs is to install a floor furnace.

Floor furnaces, while losing recognition among modern homes, are still quite relevant in older, traditional houses or homes without proper ventilation systems.

Those of you looking for a cheap HVAC alternative or are thinking of replacing your current floor furnace will want to see all the costs, benefits, drawbacks and features of floor furnaces.

Floor Furnaces

Floor Furnace Summary

As the name suggests, a floor furnace is placed in the floor and releases heat that is radiated into the rooms of the home through convection. Floor furnaces are only recommended for homeowners who already have them in place or are simply looking to update the heating system.

The best feature of floor furnaces is that they do not require a duct system. Chances are, your home will already have a duct system in place (if there is central HVAC), but if not, many homeowners go with a floor furnace to save thousands of dollars on traditional furnace system installation

Floor furnaces are typically used in small or mid-sized homes. In addition to duct work, they do not require electricity. Floor furnaces are cheaper than your typical furnace, but sadly, are less efficient. Most floor furnaces are 10% less efficient than your everyday furnace.

Floor furnaces work best when they are put in a central location, away from heavy foot traffic. You need it away from foot traffic to ensure heat continually rises from the furnace. However, you need it in a central location due to their inefficiency. Sadly, floor furnaces do not work for surrounding rooms so it better be in a spot you frequently visit like the kitchen or living room.

Floor Furnace Costs

According to our floor furnace material estimator, the maximum reported cost of floor furnace installation is $2,600 and the minimum is $2,100. For comparison purposes, the average cost to install a traditional furnace is $3,602.

Sadly, as is the case with most HVAC installation, we highly recommend calling a HVAC pro to install your floor furnace. Most floor furnace installations take up to eight hours to complete. In addition to the average costs above, your HVAC pro may need other materials, such as lumber or drywall tools to install the furnace correctly. Depending on the project, this could drive up the total cost.

Duct Work

How to Save Money on Floor Furnace Installation

Given that floor furnaces are not as popular as they once were, there are discounts to be had.

A great way to save money on your floor furnace installation is by gathering multiple quotes from various HVAC contractors in your area. You never want to go with the cheapest, but gathering these quotes should give you a rough idea of what you will most likely spend in your zip code.

Tip: Make sure you know exactly what is included in the quote. Some pros add the cost of the actual unit and some do not.

Secondly, look to purchase and install a furnace in the spring or summer. Since business is typically slow, HVAC companies will frequently offer discounts on all services and products.

Floor Furnace Safety Features

Like any home feature, there are vital safety elements that need to be included, no matter how old your floor furnace may be.

Most floor furnaces include special safety features that not only save you money, but provide a safer environment as well. If you are shopping for an upgraded floor furnace, make sure the unit has a removable floor furnace grill. This seemingly trivial feature can actually increase efficiency and safety by allowing homeowners to clean the grill when the furnace is not in use.

You should also consider a unit that incorporates a large-diameter gas flue, the part responsible for carrying dangerous fumes, such as carbon monoxide, outside the home.

Furnace Heat Settings

Floor Furnace Energy Efficiency

As previously stated, floor furnaces are not as efficient as your typical furnace. This has played a large role in their declining status. Even the most energy efficient floor furnaces will not be as efficient as a traditional home furnace.

Nevertheless, if you are buying a new floor furnace, aim for an AFUE rating of at least 70%. While this is certainly not the strongest AFUE rating, owning a furnace of this magnitude will save you money on operational costs down the road.

Floor Furnace Heat Settings

One reason everyone is flocking to the Nest is because the smart thermostat can learn your schedule and adjust your thermostat for you. As you might expect, this feature does not come with a floor furnace, but some do have a device where you can control the heat settings.

Ironically enough, many older floor furnaces do not have adjustable heat settings. If it was on, it was on. Well, most homeowners do not spend 24 hours a day in their homes and many cities don’t have the same temperature day in and day out. Furthermore, parents of small children can avoid accidental burns by turning the furnace down when children are playing in the room. Therefore, you should be able to adjust the heat settings on your new floor furnace and save some money on operational costs.

Homeowners may spend a bit more money on a furnace with this feature, but most agree that it is well worth it.

Standard Furnace Installation Cost

Many homeowners are forgetting about floor furnaces and choosing a more modern route. However, updated furnaces come with greater costs (and efficiencies).

The average cost to install in a typical furnace is $3,602. The final cost will depend on the size of the furnace, the type of furnace and its energy efficiency.

Modern Furnace

Types of Modern Furnaces

Furnaces can operate via propane, natural gas or electricity. Oil furnaces, geothermal furnaces and solar-powered furnaces are alternative options other homeowners are choosing.

Electric furnaces are smaller but often less efficient than other types of furnaces. Gas furnaces require natural gas and regular maintenance to ensure that no gas or carbon monoxide is leaking.

Furnaces must be properly sized to the home, as a furnace with excess capacity will use extra power while an undersized furnace will not effectively heat the home. Some homeowners add accessories such as a humidifier and air purifier which increase the total cost.

Furnace Maintenance

Even though the average price to repair a modern furnace is $258, there are a few necessary maintenance tasks homeowners should fulfill on a regular basis.

During the winter, change the furnace filter every 30 days. Each heating season, take off the air vent covers and clean them with a damp cloth. Use the vacuum extension hose to suck out the dust around the vent opening.

Conclusion

Floor furnaces are certainly not what they once were, but still play a major role in many houses around the country. Now that you know all the pros and cons of all floor furnaces, you can make an educated decision as far as your HVAC system.

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