All combustion appliances suck a lot of air.
They either get this air from indoors or from outdoors. If they get combustion air from indoors, then that house air has to be replaced with air from outdoors—-usually through windows and doors and wherever else it can leak into the house—-so in this sense it all comes from outdoors. Inadequate supply of air can lead to many problems—-some of them life threatening.
In the winter most people’s houses are closed up tight to save energy.
Many newer homes, have screened air intake locations around the home that provide combustion/dilution air to furnaces, fireplaces, water heaters etc. For these devices to function properly and to prevent air-quality issues within the home it is important for these screens to be maintained free of lint/debris.
These types of air intakes are primarily for open combustion appliances. The move in today’s construction is away from all open combustion appliances. Now we want our appliance’s combustion air to come directly into the appliance such that the home’s indoor air is not part of its function at all. Direct-vent water heaters, high efficiency furnaces and direct-vent fireplaces are modern approaches to heating that do not require indoor house air. This is ideal as open combustion appliances often contribute to house pressurization issues that affect moisture control in the home as well as air quality issues.
These screens must be vigilantly maintained clean and intact. Stinging insects like to build their nests in these enclosures as well and keeping them cleared away is also important.
This means of air intake will fade away and be seen as a transition from a time when all our combustion air came from indoors to a time when none of it will.
If your screened air intakes look like this:
You should make them look like this:
By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle
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