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Can an air handler be placed in the garage without an enclosure?

SV9C76vANx | Posted in Building Code Questions on

In climate zone 3, under the 2012 Energy Code, can a residential air handler be placed inside of a garage attached to the dwelling?

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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    I don't know whether the 2012 IECC prohibits the installation of air handlers in a garage; perhaps a GBA reader knows the answer.

    I do know this, however: whether or not it is allowed by code, it is stupid. So don't do it.

  2. SV9C76vANx | | #2


    Thank you for taking the time to respond. However "stupid" is not an answer. I know there are safety and energy loss issues, combustion air issues. I was asking if the current code allows the placement of an air handler in the garage. I cannot imagine telling a client it is "just stupid" without any backup information.

  3. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #3

    You're right -- I was using casual language. Here is a more technical explanation: most furnaces and air handlers are shipped from the factory with leaks in their jackets. Many of these leaks are difficult if not impossible to seal because they occur at access panels that are not designed to be sealed with mastic or tape.

    If you install an air handler in a garage, you risk introducing carbon monoxide fumes into the house. You also risk introducing VOCs from chemicals stored in garages (paint thinner, gasoline for the lawn mower, etc.).

  4. bigrig | | #4

    Martin raises an excellent point. The issue may be less of an energy code problem and more of a building code problem. Carbon monoxide is not something to take chances with. Now combine that risk with the chance that the possibility of fuel (gasoline) leaking into a confined area with an ignition source (air handler). If you must install it I would raise it at least 18” above floor level to help prevent flammable vapor ignition as is required in most areas for water heaters in garages.

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