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Insulating an air handler

Q: My house has the air handler in the attic (including AC/heat-pump coil and emergency back-up electric heater for the second floor). The ductwork in the attic is insulated; however, the air handler does not appear to be. Should I be worried about a corresponding energy loss, and is there any way to insulate the air handler?

A: Russell A. Bertrand, president of Bertrand’s Refrigeration in Wakefield, Rhode Island, replies: I’d be surprised if your air handler weren’t already insulated. Most come with 1/2-in. to 1-in. fiberglass insulation inside the cabinet. This insulation is supposed to prevent the air handler from sweating and condensing moisture on its exterior during warm weather.

The insulation inside the air handler should also be enough to prevent major heat loss in winter months. However, if you still suspect that you are losing heat through the unit (i. e., the air handler is keeping your attic warm), I’d suggest contacting a local HVAC technician to upgrade your air handler to one that might be better insulated.

From Fine Homebuilding 117, pp. 18 July 1, 1998

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