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Question DetailsAsked on 2/2/2017

Is it common for Furnace and sump pump to be in two different corners?

I am getting a new home constructed in Detroit metro area. I recently sat down with my builder to review the blueprints. To my surprise, the furnace and sump pump are in two different corners in the basement. The sump pump is under the Den and furnace is under the Kitchen. Per my builder, they can't move either because of some waterline issue for the sump pump. And, they said that the location that they have identified for the furnace is ideal for the home for efficiency perspective. They cited some heat plan for this. It would have been much nicer if both were in the same corner because later on I could plan to separate this area as a store. Is this common for homeowners to land in a situation like mine?

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OK - with all the unoccupied cheap houses in Detroit area you are building a new one - all right, your call.

Furnace, like he said, is commonly placed more or less centrally (usually NOT in a corner) where the length of duct runs will be minimized.

Sump pump has to be placed in the lowest corner if the slab is sloped (rare, usually only in unoccupied crawlspaces), and is usually placed in the corner with the lowest outside ground level (on the "downhill" side of the house), with of course the drain pipes (if any) under the slab leading to the sump itself. Reason for the lowest ground side for the discharge pipe is yuou want the water to discharge away from the foundation, not run back to it. However, if it takes up otherwise usable room space, it can be placed anywhere with proper planning (before the slab is placed, of course). The excavation should be sloped to the place it will be, then drain field gravel and usually perforated drain pipes placed in the gravel and covered with filter fabric or sand (to prevent the concrete from migrating into the drain field), then running the sump pump pipe to the chosen discharge point.

The sump pipe, if not leading from the pump straight outside to the low side of the yard, needs to bu run vertically up into the ceiling joists, then at drainage slope (typically 2%) from there to the discharge point, which should normally be within 10-15 feet but can be further away with larger pipe and provided the pipe is running through warm spaces so it does not freeze.

If you have both crawlspace and full basement takes a bit of additional effort and care with the drain bed if the sump is not at the base of the wall dividing crawlspace from the basement, to ensure that the crawlspace drainage does not break to free surface in the basement.

You would have to talk to the builder about this - but at plan stage should not cost more than the extra distance the pipe has to run to the discharge point, and if not reasonably run to the low side of the yard, perhaps some earthwork or concrete gutter or such to direct the discharged water away from the foundation and out into an area of the yard where it will not be a nuisance and will stay away from the foundation.

Note that in most areas it is illegal to discharge sump pumps into the sanitary sewer line, which would be an easy solution for this situation. But nothing says you cannot run your own drain sewer line, if needed, to dispose of the water - to surface in your yard, or in rare cases into a drywell - an excavated pit filled with gravel or clean rock which acts as a drain field, much like a septic leach field. That solution depends on proximity to things like septic field or wells, and native soil permeability. I had one house where I had to run it under the joists about 20' from the pump, through the wall, discharging into a surface swale leading about 40 feet to a naturally wet area in the back yard, then french drain from there (draining the wet area too) about 70' to the front yard where it could naturally drain away, percolating up from the french drain to the surface - ended up going about 3/4 of the way around the house till it was "set free". But that is an extreme case - commonly a bit of berming or a swale can direct the runoff to a free-draining area without much work.

One other factor - in some code areas you cannot have any source of combustion or sparking (and all electric motors not rated explosion-proof qualify as such) within 5-10 feet of the furnace, in case of gas leak. I know - silly code requirement, considering the furnace itself is a combustion source, and probably better to blow up with little gas discharged than a large pool of it, but I have seen it. That might have been a consideration.

One or the other can be moved - a question of how difficult, and whether the piping/ducting can be and has to be hidden in the overlygin floor joists, or can be run along under them near a wall, because the piping can be rerouted quite simply in most cases. Furnace can be moved too - though might take up-sizing some ducting in the basement to give the same airflow resistance as the current plan because some runs would be longer (but some probably shorter, too, so they might be able to be downsized one size).

One possible other solution - leave as they have it, and plan (during the store conversion, if legal in your area - usually not in residential areas) on concealing the sump pump with an easily removeable screen or box, or hjide it behind a table or display case or such (though customers would hear it running at times). You can cover the sump to keep things out and reduce evaporation from it.

Note also - opn the store conversion - due to difference in fire code and building code requirements on lighting, ventilation, plumbing, fire protection, egress, etc - you and your architect should probably be considering those factors now - a lot cheaper to build to commercial standards now than come back and have to cut into foundation walls to put in larger or more doors, etc. And talk to the architect (and for this sort of thing you should have an architect, not just a builder, on board) about planning and zoning issues if the store concept is integral to this new home construction - because while home "workshops" are allowed in general in residential areas, businesses with traffic coming and going (deliveries or customers) on a regular basis are generally NOT allowed in residential areas - you could be planning on something that will never pass Planning and Zoning review regardless of buidling code issues.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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