Workshop Heating and Ventilation

There are many options for installing heating and ventilation in a home workshop. These two features are key to creating a comfortable environment in a workspace.

When planning a workshop, keep in mind that if the space is not comfortable it is unlikely that much work will be done in it. For that reason, it's important to remember heating as part of the workshop design. In addition, adequate ventilation is important from the standpoint of safety as well as creating a pleasant work environment.

heat workshop with portable heater

heat workshop with portable heater

Figure B

Weather Stripping
Maintain a comfortable environment and save money by properly insulating the ceilings and walls in your workshop. It's also helpful to install weather stripping around doors and windows.

Foam insulation stripping is easy to install around windows. Feel around the edges of the windows to determine whether there are drafty spots. If a draft is found, block it off with weather stripping. Simply clean the surface where the stripping is being installed, peel the paper backing and stick the stripping along the edge of the window.

The most common way to heat a shop that's not attached to a house is with a portable heater. These include radiant heat, electric, propane and kerosene heaters. Here are some options and some considerations:

Kerosene heaters
An advantage of heating with kerosene is that it is inexpensive and lasts a long time. Kerosene heaters are filled via a removable cap. Kerosene does put out an odor that some people find unpleasant. Also, kerosene heaters put out a moist heat, so this may not be the best choice if lumber is stored in the shop.

Propane heaters.
The advantage of propane is convenience. These heaters use propane tanks that can be refilled or exchanged at propane stations almost anywhere – including many service stations and convenience stores. Propane tanks are easy to connect to heaters, but when attaching a propane tank, remember that the connection has a left-handed thread, which is opposite from most threaded connections. Propane heaters generally come in two types: ones that are separate from the tank, but connected with a hose, and ones that mount directly on the tank. The heaters that are separate tend to be more stable. Place a tank-mounted heater in a location where it's not likely to get knocked over, particularly as the fuel begins to run out and the tank gets lighter.

Electric heaters
These heaters come in a number of types and sizes. Quartz-element heaters are a newer style and offer the convenience of a replaceable element. Wire-element heaters are another electric-heater option. Most are equipped with a blower to circulate the heat, so they heat a bigger space more rapidly. Ceramic-element heaters are very popular because they are compact, powerful and efficient. For any type of electric heater, keep the elements clean and free of dust or sawdust.

The easiest way to ventilate your workshop is with a fan; these come in a large array of styles and sizes. Industrial fans, which move large amounts of air, are good for a large space. Oscillating fans move back and forth to enhance circulation. Box fans are inexpensive and particularly handy for a workshop since they can easily be set in a window to bring in outside air, or turned around to draw out stale air.

For a more sophisticated approach, a more elaborate system can be installed using ductwork, air filters and an enclosed fan to move air and return filtered air into the workspace.

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