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  #1  
Old 2013-01-08, 10:42 AM
almitra almitra is offline
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Default Furnace intake and exhaust covered with snow

We've been having this problem with our furnace since the heavy snowfall started a couple of weeks ago. The intake and exhaust pipes on the side of the house keep getting covered with snow whenever it's snowing (even with light snow). This causes the furnace to shutdown, and causes temperatures to drop. What makes it more problematic is that it usually happens in the middle of the night, and we wake up to freezing temperatures. I always have to go outside and wade through the snow and shovel it out.

I was wondering if this is a common thing that people run into. We didn't have this in our first home, and I just find it weird that I have to shovel my side yard now (on top of everything else that I have to shovel).
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Old 2013-01-08, 11:00 AM
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Inspector Phil Acker Inspector Phil Acker is offline
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Although not a common issue, this is a concern that needs attention. Put a call into the company that installed the furnace - usually there's a label attached to the furnace with an emergency number, or on the gas label on the gas supply pipe. Be aware that there is a remote possiblity that this can create a health and safety issue.

Just as a reminder, its not a bad idea for home owners to check at the exterior for snow- and ice-blocked air intakes for all installed items such as the furnace, hot water tank, HRV, dryer vents, bathroom fans, etc. Also clear the area around the gas meter if snow is covering it.
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Old 2013-01-08, 11:01 AM
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there is a code requirement for height above anticipated snow depth - don't recall the number but along the line of 12 inches

for now, dig a hole around the pipes down to the grass, and say 2 ft x 2 ft square

ask the builder to raise them up, and if they won't, its pretty easy to diy

building centres sell the correct pipe and solvent
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Old 2013-01-08, 11:29 AM
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For a gas appliance under 100,000 btu/hr, the minimum clearance to grade [or above a horizontal surface such as a deck or balcony] is 1'; if over 100,000 btu/hr, it's 3'. Two other considerations are the manufacturer's installation instructions, and local expected average maximum snow depth. For Ottawa, the NRC's study indicates the average maximum snow depth is not over 20". I don't have a specific reference to back up a value for Ottawa.
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Old 2013-01-08, 12:41 PM
TKG26 TKG26 is offline
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12" above grade pass inspection if inspection ever occurs. 12" above anticipated snow levels is optimal. And in some cases higher depending on location(windy areas like homes along a water way or in a large open lots)

On the radio yesterday they said we have received more snow this year then any other year since 1977. So what we have experienced is not "normal" now levels...

I suggest to all my customers that after any snow fall(or windy snow drifting days) To check furnace and water heater vents, as well clear you gas meter of snow and ice. These are home owners responsibilities

If your out to shovel snow chances are you would be wise to also shovel out the area around your vents... In some cases snow drifts can really build up high. Also make sure nothing is stored around vents like garbage cans,bikes yard furniture. All of that stuff allows the snow to get closer to the vent pipes.

IF you call your hvac company out ask them to extend the vent terminations higher with snorkle.. If the installations instructions allow for it. This will be chargeable if already installed to code.

Last edited by TKG26; 2013-01-08 at 12:44 PM. Reason: more info
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Old 2013-01-08, 12:56 PM
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You can try some Alaskan Ice Melter around your vents to prevent the snow from accumulating.
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Old 2013-01-08, 02:13 PM
almitra almitra is offline
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Thanks for all the replies...

My main issue is not the shoveling per se.. I understand that's what's expected from a home owner. It's just that waking up to temperatures ranging from 15-17C (12C on the second floor), when it was perfectly normal the night before, is frustrating to say the least.

The intake is definitely not 12" above grade. At maximum it's around 8". Adding to the problem is that with the direction of our home, it creates a wind tunnel effect that piles up all the snow to my side of the side yard (this morning there was over 30" of snow)..
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Old 2013-01-08, 02:16 PM
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whats the make/model of your furnace? can check the minimum clearances
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Old 2013-01-08, 02:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TKG26 View Post
On the radio yesterday they said we have received more snow this year then any other year since 1977. So what we have experienced is not "normal" now levels...
While it may not be normal for us to have this much snow on the ground this early in the season, it is not abnormal for us to have this much snow on the ground at some point in the year (though, if the last few years are an indication normal is changing).
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Old 2013-01-08, 02:55 PM
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No wonder the humidity in my house is at 25% and the HRV is on...it must not be pulling in fresh air since it's blocked! (will dig it out tonight)
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