There are a few different types of heaters you can choose from to warm your garage over winter. The most likely categories you’ll buy from, however, are propane or natural gas heaters. In these cases, you’ll need to learn how to vent a garage heater properly so the fumes don’t cause harm to you or your loved ones.
Natural gas garage heaters are far more efficient than other types like electric heat or wood heat. They heat up spaces quicker, saving you money and working overtime. They’re environmentally superior, too. Compared to electric heat, natural gas running costs are lower. That said, you’ll have to account for the upfront cost of installing a venting system for your natural gas heater, along with the cost of the gas heater itself.
As a plus, many gas garage heaters are comparatively priced and just as affordable as electric heaters that don’t require a venting system— and they don’t come with the high costs to power them. You face a choice: do you hire out wall vent or roof vent installation professionally? Or do you gather your own tools and handyman (or handywoman) skills to get the job done yourself?
One of these definitely sounds more costly than the other (hint: the former!) If you want to save even more money and do the job yourself, here’s how to vent a garage heater using simple tools and DIY know-how.
Ceiling Mount Garage Heater Installation
Whether you plan to use a wall vent or ventilate up through the roof, one very appealing option for installing your garage heater is to mount it directly to the ceiling. This way, you get even more heat efficiency. The higher up your natural gas heater, the more it will push the hot air down into your space as it runs and emits heat. It’ll quickly create an even, pleasant warming effect— especially in large spaces like a three-car garage.
Most natural gas heaters will come with some sort of mounting system, whether for the ceiling or the wall (the mount can work for both). In some cases, you may need to source one separately. For obvious reasons, a roof vent may work best with a ceiling mount, but if strategically placed, wall ventilation can work too.
You’ll also need to hook up your heater to the home’s gas line. Check your manual’s instructions for how to do this correctly and safely. This will involve choosing the right sized gas pipe for running your natural gas garage heater efficiently.
Some Quick Tips for Ceiling Mount Garage Heater Installation:
- Make sure there’s at least 3 to 4 inches of space between the ceiling and the heater. Ceilings can indeed be made of combustible materials!
- Use a pulley and wood to lift the heater into place on your own before fastening it to the mount and joists.
- Also, be sure to keep natural gas heaters well-spaced from other objects in the room – around 3 feet away at least.
- When installing a forced-air model, point the blower or heat emitter in the direction where you expect the most heat loss to take place, such as a garage door.
Installing a Wall Vent for Your Garage Heater
Once mounted, it’s time to get the inside duct system set up with your gas heater before giving it a run. Whether wall-mounted or ceiling mounted, a wall vent is a good option, especially if you’d prefer to leave your roof intact (and wall installation is generally easier and less messy).
When Doing This on Your Own, You’ll Need the Following Tools:
- Vent pipe (duct or suspended duct for wall vent)
- Vent flange
- Vent cap
- Power drill
- Heater flange
- Roof flashing
- Measuring tape
- Plumber’s tape
- Drywall cutting knife
- Reciprocating saw
- Metal snips
- Deck screws
First Step – Make sure the diameter of the duct you purchased matches the diameter of your gas heater’s flange (which may or may not be included with your heater purchase). Measure this to ensure beforehand, though you can also check the manufacturer’s instructions for diameter details.
Second Step – Next, measure the distance of duct portion you’ll need to vent from your garage heater to the wall and outside. The actual vent on the exterior wall should be high up off the ground to avoid any chance of contact with a spark of flame. This is less of an issue with ceiling-mounted garage heaters, ideal for high-up ventilation.
Third Step – Mark a circle on the drywall. Mark where the duct portion will exit through the wall to the outside by its circumference. Of course, make sure no cords or electricity are running through these wall portions. Mark another circle around the circumference. Make it about 1-2 inches outwards to give room for the duct to move easily out and through when installed.
Fourth Step – Along the pencil outline on the drywall, use your power drill to start drilling pilot holes for the exit of the ducting and vent. You can then remove the entire circle for the hole with either a drywall cutting knife, reciprocating saw, or both. Go through the hole and remove the outside paneling on the exterior wall with a reciprocating saw and other tools as well.
Fifth Step – Attach the middle piece duct portion to the heater flange and then to the outside, attaching it to the vent flange on the exterior wall. Fasten the vent to the outside wall with a screwdriver (or power drill) and deck screws. Make sure to patch with roof flashing and plumber’s tape around the vent base outside, and patch up any seams along with the ducting. Adjust using metal snips if needed.
Final Step – Make sure the duct runs straight and place the vent cap at the end of the duct and vent outside. Next, tighten up and attach duct joints to the flange with screws where you can. Once all is attached and fully tightened, you are ready to heat your garage.
Venting a Garage Heater Through a Roof
With ventilating exhaust gases through a roof vent, the same steps above for wall ducts and vents apply, with a few modifications.
Some Notable Differences:
- The heater flange will attach to a 90-degree elbow duct that bends vertically towards the ceiling. From this elbow, attach the ducting vertically to the vent flange, cap, and roof flashing on top of the roof.
- You’ll have to remove roof shingles, tiles, and other materials carefully with proper tools to preserve the right-sized circular hole and fit for the duct and vent to the outside.
Venting a garage heater through a wall or roof is not the most challenging home improvement— just about anyone can do it. And it doesn’t have to involve hiring costly professionals! With the right tools and knowledge beforehand, you can keep the materials cheap and the outcome safe, beautiful, and efficient. Keep your garage warm all winter long.