I've got an air vent from the outside which discharges right next to the furnace. I know the furnace needs this air, but a glacial breeze comes through all the time. I've found 3 options and I'm not sure which to do:

  1. Extend the vent until its about 6" from the floor and put it in a 5 gallon bucket.
  2. Add two elbows to make a 180 degree turn and extend it up 2 feet or so.
  3. Do nothing. I'd be crazy to try and change something that's been like this for the last 20 years.

Will option 1 or 2 actually help? I'd prefer option 2 because its the more compact solution.


  • Would a low tension damper work? I know they make powered dampers that can be wired into the furance blower as well – redlude97 Jan 12 at 23:03
  • No, the vacuum on the room is so weak that it wouldn't overcome a damper--it would just draw from the rest of the house. – isherwood Jan 13 at 0:21

The makeup air ducts I've seen have been in a U-shaped arrangement where the exit end is high, near the ceiling. This leaves a puddle of cold air sitting in it that doesn't just fall out like it would here, whereas you essentially have a reverse chimney effect happening. It acts like a trap on a sink drain, and the slight vacuum that your furnace creates draws air from the duct as needed.

You could buy a length of 6" insulated flex duct and attach it to the existing outlet. Loop it back up and hang it near the ceiling. I'd also insulate the rigid duct with foil-faced fiberglass. You'll lose less heat to conduction.

Really, the outcome would be the same if you'd shorten the duct to a higher point and install a U-bend up high. There's no value in dropping it to the floor if you're just taking it all the way back up.

You could have success with the bucket idea, but the volume of the bucket outside the duct would need to be adequate to counter the weight of the air in the duct. That would take a large bucket.

Note: I'm not familiar with current code requirements on the subject.

  • The two elbows OP mentioned would do what you suggested - creating a U shaped arrangement. – SteveSh Jan 12 at 22:16
  • The key to my suggestion is height. A U-bend alone doesn't change anything. – isherwood Jan 12 at 22:18
  • Thinking out loud here...What do you think those two closed off openings behind the PVC tubing are for? You don't suppose they're for a fresh air intake to the combustion chamber? – SteveSh Jan 12 at 22:20
  • And I see your point about the height. – SteveSh Jan 12 at 22:22
  • Those are alternative access ports for right-side installation. Combustion air enters through the grille on the front. – isherwood Jan 12 at 22:22

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