REAL ESTATE PAGE 2 By James Dulley

Q: Our family room, with the large patio door, often gets chilly. What types of efficient and safe gas heaters are available? I would like one that has a thermostat to control the heat. C.L.

A. Gas heaters are the least expensive to operate and provide the greatest amount of heat and comfort. Even if you have an electric heat pump, a propanefired space heater can be effective and efficient. It allows you to zone heat your home (set different temperatures in different rooms) and lower your utility bills.

Wall-mounted direct-vent gas space heaters are most efficient and safe to operate. Some designs generate their own electricity to operate the wall thermostat. These operate even during electric power outages when your main furnace or heat pump goes off along with everything else in your home.

A direct-vent gas heater is very easy to install. You place it against an outside wall. The outdoor combustion air intake and flue gas vent are run through a single opening in your wall. The hole typically ranges from about 3 to 6 inches in diameter. The outdoor vent cover extends out only about 6 inches from the wall so it is barely noticeable outdoors.

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Since no indoor air is used for combustion, the overall efficiency of these heaters is high, up to 84 percent. Chilly drafts inside your home are also minimized. With the direct venting, there is very little chance of dangerous flue gases getting into your room air.

One design of direct-vent room heater uses a special device in the burner to generate its own electricity for its controls and wall thermostat. Room air is heated by natural upward flow through the heater. There are optional electric blower kits for greater heat circulation. You can also get automatic setback wall thermostats to save even more energy.

With no fans and direct venting, these designs of gas heaters operate very quietly. This makes one ideal for use in a bedroom. The automatic setback thermostat can reduce the room temperature while you sleep and heat it up again right before you awake.

Another design of highefficiency direct-vent gas heater has a built-in blower, air filter, thermostat, and humidifier tray. On this design, the hot air blows out the bottom for the best heat distribution. It uses a power vent fan to force the flue gases outdoors. This requires you to drill only a 3-inch hole through your outside wall for the venting.

You can write to me for Utility Bills Update No. 083 listing addresses and telephone numbers of manufacturers of highefficiency direct-vent gas room heaters, heat outputs capacities, and product information. Please include $1.50 and a self-addressed business-size envelope to James Dulley, Post-Bulletin, 6909 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244.

Q: The exhaust outlet from my bathroom vent fan empties into the attic near the underside of the roof. Is that proper or should it vent out through the roof? C.M.

A: That is not the proper way to vent a bathroom fan. Most attics do not have enough ventilation to carry away the excess moisture before it may cause damage. It should be vented outdoors.

Running the vent outlet through the roof will work, but there is always the potential for water leaks over time. Try running the duct along the attic floor over to the soffit (roof overhang). Run the duct down and out under the soffit behind the gutters. There it won't cause any leaks. ------

James Dulley is a syndicated columnist. Address questions to James Dulley, c/o Rochester Post-Bulletin, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, Ohio 45244.