I received a message from a reader asking how I heated my shop in the third stall of my garage. Since temperatures here have been much cooler than normal, I thought this might be a good time to share that info with everyone, so here are the particulars.
For the first four years we were in the house, the primary heat source for my shop was me! I worked in insulated coveralls, a stocking hat and fingerless gloves. I had a little milkhouse heater blowing as close to me as possible, but at best, it prevented frostbite.
It’s the only time I thought my shop was too big. Glue-ups and finishing meant carting parts into the house and down to the basement.
Then I installed a ceiling-mounted natural gas heater, similar to a Modine Hot Dawg. It’s up by the garage-door opener, blowing back into the shop.
In the winter, I keep the shop at about 55 degrees while I’m working. I bump it up higher if I’ll be gluing or finishing, although some of the finishing I still take to the basement.
The attic above the garage has 12” of blown-in insulation, and the outside sidewalls are insulated. I could make the arrangement more efficient by hanging a curtain to divide the shop from the two-car portion of the garage, thereby containing the heat in a smaller area. It would also help if I had a better seal around the overhead doors. A good W or NW wind pushes them in about 1/8” from the weatherstripping.
One problem I’ve had with my heater: The exhaust vents horizontally through the north endwall. When a stiff north wind blows (ie when a nasty mass of arctic air is moving in), the heater often won’t fire, due to the back-pressure in the exhaust.
Before turning the heater on for the first time each season, I climb up and give it a good cleaning, blowing and brushing away the dust and cobwebs. I do that a couple of times during the winter as well.
So how do you guys heat the shop in winter? And I don’t want to hear you guys in the Sunbelt say “I open the windows.”
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