Heating a Converted Garage
LESLIE: Ralph in Pennsylvania is on the line with a heating issue. What’s going on?
RALPH: I have a flat roof on my house, right? And it’s one room that, I guess, when they built the house, they planned it to be a garage? And I’m using that room because it’s really nice but I can’t get it to heat up for some reason. It seems like the – it’s like a draft coming in there. And I can’t get the room warm at all.
TOM: And how are you heating it? What’s the heating system look like for that particular room?
RALPH: I don’t have heat in that room.
TOM: But you say you can’t heat it up. But how are you trying to heat it up?
RALPH: Oh, I don’t want to – I own one of those ammos (ph) heaters: you know, the stoves?
TOM: So, you’re using a portable heater and you’re not – it’s still – it’s not warming up. Is that your – is that the situation?
TOM: A couple of things. First of all, garages are essentially the exterior of your house. And so, if they’re not built to contain heat, then they’re going to be very difficult for you to do just that. You mentioned it has a flat roof, so you don’t have a lot of access to that roof space where you could add insulation.
The walls. Are the walls insulated?
RALPH: Yes, they are. It’s actually – the garage is actually attached to the house. It’s like part of the house. There’s a big door, actually.
TOM: So this is part of your house but it’s not part of the central heating system for the house?
RALPH: Correct. Correct.
TOM: Yeah. See, I really think you need to have more BTUs in that space, as well. So, I don’t think you’re getting enough heat out of this portable unit. How is your – how is the rest of the house heated? Oil? Gas? Electric? What?
TOM: Oil, OK. Hot air? Forced air?
TOM: Is there an opportunity to extend the heating system ducts – supply and return – into that area that was formerly a garage?
RALPH: Yeah. I think that’s where – maybe that’s what I have to do. I don’t know. But it – my problem is, actually, that I feel a draft. Even if I take out the plates on the floors and whatnot, on the outlets, I can feel air coming through there.
TOM: Yeah. So you’re going to probably have to do some comprehensive draft-proofing.
So, look, first of all, you need to extend the heating system into that. If it turns out you can’t or it’s not going to deliver enough heat, the least expensive way to heat that room would be by to add – and just in this room – electric baseboard heaters. You could have these permanently wired in and run off a thermostat and even run off a clock thermostat so that when it really gets very cold, you can use this to supplement the heat in that room. That’s the least expensive way to add additional heat to that space.
In terms of the drafts, yeah, you need to start attacking those drafts in all the ways you normally attack them. You want to try to identify them. If it’s coming in around the outlets, then you add gaskets behind the outlets. There’s foam gaskets, very inexpensive, you can put in that go under the cover plate and will cover that area. If it’s coming around the windows, you may need to weather-strip those windows or caulk the windows. You want to attack those one at a time.
And the roof above that you said is a flat roof, is that roof insulated, as well?
RALPH: Yes, it is.
TOM: Well, then, it sounds to me like what you want to do is seal off the drafts and add additional heating to that room the easiest way you can. I just don’t think you’re getting enough BTUs in there with the space heater, OK?
RALPH: OK. Thank you very much.