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Any idea what purpose this serves?

Recently moved in and rented the place. Any idea what it is? It has a weird smell to it. The house has two more of em

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  • JASON
    Lv 5
    2 months ago

    That's where you keep the dead bodies.

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  • 2 months ago

    That looks like an old cold air return for a furnace. If it smells, you probably need to have the ducts cleaned.

    • Pilsner Man
      Lv 7
      2 months agoReport

      WTF are you talking about?

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  • 2 months ago

    yes, the purpose of the grates is to keep people and things from falling into the vent

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  • elhigh
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    That's an old fashioned heat register from when furnaces were in the basement, fueled by wood or coal, and the ventilation was convection - it's just the heat that carried the warm air from the furnace to the rooms.  So ducts were pretty generously sized and the outlets large, to move the air as efficiently as possible.

    Are the two grates opening onto the same duct?  If not, one is the return going back to the furnace.  It's very unusual to see them so close together but it will work, and sometimes you don't have a lot of choice where you put ducting, especially in a gravity system.  The addition of electric blowers on household heating systems really was a game-changer.

    The weird smell is probably a lingering taint of coal smoke.  

    My grandparents in west-central Minnesota had an even simpler furnace in the 60s; it was still a convection furnace but instead of a few registers here and there moving heat a bit more evenly through the house, there was one big grate in the center hallway.  Not a great design but it sure dried your boots in a hurry!

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  • Anonymous
    2 months ago

    Unusual to see to heat registers in both the wall and floor . . . . I'm guessing the room was cold so they added another register to get more heat in.  Undoubtedly a "gravity" heating system, ie no blower fan, but operates on principle that hot air rises and cold air falls.

    The floor grate looks more like a cold air return, but it would be insane to have the return right under the heat outlet.  But lots of things happen to a house over the years:  we bought one once that had two complete, separate hot water heating systems . . . . boilers, pipes, radiators.  Both were original to house, but one was gas fired and one was coal fired - guess they wanted to be ready for anything!

    The weird smell:  metal ductwork that's a hundred years old - was once coal fired - cast iron furnace innards rust when not in use.  

    • Nuff Sed
      Lv 7
      2 months agoReport

      Not "insane" to have heat outlet and cold return that way: the warm air still rises from the top register and the cold air still tumbles into the floor register.  Not particularly efficient, but we're just guessing anyway.

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  • 2 months ago

    It looks like the place may be old and those grates used to be heating vents. The smell would have to be investigated further.

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