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Can the dealer or manufacturer advise changing specs contary to the products' listing

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by elkimmeg, Aug 9, 2006.

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  1. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    An installation does not go according to plan or code. Some clearance to combustibles is an issue (for an example) Usually what happens is the owner calls the dealerto see if there is anyway to reduce the clearance. Or in the case of it being a liner Is there any way I can install it without the insulation as stated in the manual to achieve UL tested listings.
    The next phone call is to the manufacturer to see if it is acceptable to be installed, lacking major point of its listing.

    It doesn’t work this way. The installer, dealer, or manufactures has no authority to change the listing. That’s right the manufacturer can’t advise an installation contrary to what has been written tested and proven. Once he submits a product to testing approval and proper installation listing, there is only one written correct way to install that appliance.
    He cannot change the testing results, The testing facility approves the sample stoves/liners and their listing specs. Along with the manufacturing process.. Called ISO 90. The manufacturer agrees to be random tested or submit periodic samples for re- testing to ensure the integrity of the manufacturing process. Also tested is the exact criteria of the manufacturing process, in order to receive the stamp of approval is UL. The only way the manufacture can revise the listing is to resubmit the product and specs to be tested and approved

    I telling you this to save you time and wasted phone calls The dealer can’t, nor manufacture, can advise any situation, contrary to what has been approved. Anyone who dose ,is in violationg the agreement of the approval process and the listing

    I learned how the process worked quite some time back. I was inspecting an assisted living project and happened to read the GE gas dryer manual early on. It required 2” clearances to combustibles. Well if you design a space for a 30” appliance. 30" in the rough stage, add sheet rock base board and door trim and add 4” for the vent. It is real hard to make that installation code compliant. They had the dryer sticking out past the wall into the cased opening area and installed the bifold doors (Wood doors) farthest front.
    I refused to pass the installation and issue occupancy cert till the issue was resolved. The Architect Claimed he called GE and was told that the clearances were an over kill and that the dryers did not need the required listed 2” clearance. So I asked for a stamped copy in writing from GE. First I get you don’t believe me response. Next I get a stamped letter from the architect stating his phone conversation with GE and talked to mike so in so in engineering in Huston Texas. Again here is my fax number I want it stamped in writing from GE. Not the answer he would accept. Mine you, this Architect is considered the guru of assisted living developments and is very well connected. 10 units are being held up pending occupancy and this guy starts dropping dimes to turn up the heat on me to release them. Another week goes by still no certified stamped fax from GE Again I call him and request it. Finally The state has called my commissioner numerous times my board of selectmen has scheduled a hearing to have me removed. My own boss commissioner is avoiding me. And the state is breathing down my neck. I even got a call from the state division of architect and engineering asking me what I was doing.

    Finally I made the call to GE. I identified myself and was passed on to the head of engineering. . I had the stamped architect’s letter in hand with the date he called and the person he spoke to. There was no Mike so in so that worked in engineering Even if there was such a person he could not advise clearance reductions. He then explained the entire certification process to me. Even he cannot suggest the reduction of clearances without certified testing and third party testing and approvals. I asked him to fax me a signed copy of this conversation and stating the approval process and also that mike so in so never worked there.. He does.
    The next night is the selectman’s meeting where I am going to be dismissed. I wanted to distance my boss from this as I did not want him to be axed along with me. Nobody knew I had the GE fax. I also wanted to see when chips were down who your real friends are. The Architect his lawyer. and many of the future residents crowd into the meeting room. The architect and lawyer are painting a picture of how I’m causing so much hardship for a $.10 issue and that I deserved to be removed.
    If I was an innocent bystander it was quite obvious that this inspector had to go. I would have dismissed him, if I believed how I was being portrayed. Finally I get a chance to defend my position and integrity. I present a copy of the dryer manual then the architect’ stamped letter then the fax from GE head of engineering. The chairwoman of the board starts reading the 4 pages I give her, Finishes them and makes a statement that the other members better read them before a motion is made. As the selectwoman is reading them I pass a copy to the architect’s lawyer. All of a sudden the lawyer and Architect leave the meeting and start discussing my GE letter out in the hall. Next thing I know they have left the building. Guess what I’m still an inspector. Believe me,, this is a very hard way to learn a lesson, caused a lot of lost sleep, I thought of quitting just not to go threw it.
    In the end opinion shifted and I was doing my job.

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  2. MountainStoveGuy

    MountainStoveGuy New Member

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    We somtimes get techical bullitens from manufactures changing specs. They usually relate to clearaces, and venting (with gas appliances), hearthpad requirements, ect. Do these document act different then a letter from the engineers?
  3. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    those bulitens are probably based on continual research and testing. I understand shelf life and specs being published in times past. My post and experienced was not aimed at them. It was meant to educate and discourage useless phone calls to the manufacturer. How many post or discussions have we had here where someone wants to re engineer or follow or apply what suits their needs. does one really think the manufacturer is going to say ok your way is better our testing and installation requirements are wrong right. Really in the corporate structure, who has that authority not the tech that answer's the phone not the sales rep, I would think it has to start with full evaluation from engineering, not a spot judgement.
  4. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    And don't you think that in the testing process that the manufacturer ends up with a documented range of acceptable tolerances? And that the published spec is unusually the mid-point of those tolerances? And that the manufacturer is perfectly within their right to advise applications within those tolerances?

    And yes, manufacturers will say it. I have emails from stove manufacturers right here that say a half inch smaller liner than their manual calls for is OK. And they know damn well those emails are admissible in court. You can bet that they would show up at the courthouse with testing results to back it up.

    I have never seen a torque value for a bolt on an aircraft that will carry two hundred people thirty thousand feet off of the ground that states exactly and only 60 foot pounds.
  5. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    I got a phone call at my office today, from one of the best HVAC contractors in my area. He wants to know who pulled the permit for the 46k job he Bid and lost. I mean if I was doing a job, this guy would be the first one I call. That's how much respect I have in his work. He then makes the comment, the person awarded the job will be in for a rude awaking once I inspect his job. The only way he could be out bid is by using inferior equipment. He uses Trane. I tell him id the equippment meets the effeciency nunbers ans seer 13 it passes eventhiough I agree Trane is superior to builder's specials.

    BB I can't figure whether you support my post or not but there are now 1,600 bolts holding the big tunnel that are defective and failed. Me if flying 32k ft off the ground I would want all 60 torx bolts to register 60 or over I would not want to read after a crash the some bolts let go at 48 lbs. As we all know codes set a minium safety standard m there is no penalty in exceeding them only an additional safety margine. Safety cost more money but we get to live another day. At
    what point does safety and money merge?.. In 2003 NSF reported 500 plus death related ,to solid fuel fire incidents At what tollerance should we apply concerning safety Is 550 ok or 450. I would like to think the Hearth influenced a reduction
    and not promote an increase? If the latter is true ,then I am wasting my time hear. As Blind Faith band said do as you like. It is possible that I have experience forum burn out and that I need a vacation Too much idle time
  6. Rob From Wisconsin

    Rob From Wisconsin Minister of Fire

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    Hang in there Elk - it is the "American Way" to dispute & disagree on
    just about everything ("free speech" & the such). Sometimes, all we need
    to do is get the "Teflon Effect" & just not let it "stick" to us (take offense).
    In the office area & work in (engineering), if you didn't take that approach,
    one would probably go insane and/or probably become a "Greeter" at Walmart.

    My 2 cents worth.....

    Rob
  7. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    my work load drops off to almost nothing during summer vacations. Call it summer dolldrums
    In about a week the phone will light up and I will have more work than I can handle. Happens like this every year.
    Too much down time and too much time spent here. This forum is adictive
  8. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Remember, in general that Boeing or Airbus is made by the lowest bidder. In fact, China, South America and many other countries make parts of your Jet aircraft. So, either praise their quality or hold onto the seat (assuming seat bolts are tightened) -

    As fas as safetly listing, I understand where you are coming from. Just because some new hire at Lennox tells you something is OK on the phone does not mean that it is. BUT, doesn't the new NFPA for the first time say something about manufacturers being able to provide certain exceptions in writing? You have to put his in perspective......for instance, many doctors provide medicine for "off-label" use - so they are breaking the "law" or "listings" of that medicine every time they do this, and one could say they are endangering life. But they are pros, and they make the call - usually together with the patient.

    So, when it comes to all those grey areas, an OK from the manufacturer in writing might help. But I agree that when it comes to cold, hard facts - clearances for instance, you cannot go from a stated 12" to 8" just because someone says so. However, if I was an inspector, I'd probably let 11.5" slide.

    Elk, do you have particular examples of manufacturers telling customers in writing to do things that are clearly dangerous?

    My Lennox gas fireplace was installed incorrectly (exhaust too close to soffit), and the installer and builder did not believe me (they obviously never read even basic instructions), so I contacted Lennox and sent them pictures. They confirmed it was wrong, and building cut back the soffit to 6" as per instructions.

    Attached Files:

  9. MountainStoveGuy

    MountainStoveGuy New Member

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    I see elk, the reason i ask, is we had a inspector here once that woulnd go by the updated tech bulliten. If i remember situation correctly, Quadra fire makes a direct vent fireplace. There manual specs out "DVP" pipe. "DVP" is made by simpson for quadrafire. We only stock simpson in the 6 5/8 pipe. We got tagged a few times for not using DVP, even with the tech bulliten in our hand, and a engineers stamped letter from the factory.
  10. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    To Craig Most of the time I do not use a ruler. The ruler only comes out for show to the homeowner or when I spot something that looks wrong. I'm not going to see 1/2". However human nature kicks in once the ruller comes out. Meaming once one measurement is wrong, You wonder about all mesurements. At that point I may pick up the 1/2"

    I have been debating this for day how to approach this point. Sensationalize witha new post or place it within multy response post

    Craig you are right about fireplaces and chimneys and flues not be built to code. The percentage of being built right is probably less than 1%. If this true which it is, then every masonry chimney requires an UL 1477 aproved liner Just like in Canada. No direct connect can be installed no fireplace insert can be installed That's right all fireplace inserts are installed in non compliant fireplaces and therfore are illegally installed

    I have seen 3 built to spec the fire bricks being installed with refactory cement the flue liners are spected and code worded to be motared with refactory cement. Is it happening no. Practicality is ,, a fresh bed of motar is mixed the mason lays in the flue liner with the common mortat within trowel's length. He does not have a separate bed of refractory cement on the staging. One it would harden, if only used once every 15 or so minutes. ASTME governs the amount of times remixing is allowed before the setting properties are gone. This brings up another point who know how much motar is still used when it has passed the stage of being setting and hardenig too long? It takes years for the evidence to show up. What about motar freezing? Again it may take years for the evidence to show up.

    Most of the fire brick installed in the fireboxes are installed with common mortar not code required refractory motar That means every insert is installed in a non compliant NFPA 211 firebox. They have no right being there. They can only be installed in a NFPA compliant fire box. How many installers check the integerty of the fire box? Do the use an angle mirror to check behind the fire brick and with a flashlight see what is going on in there. The reason why I ask, is the non use of refactory cement is less of an issue, when the firebricks are fully supported with solid masonry fill. All too often this is not the case It's hollow behind there even though code requires it. What about checking cracks or voids under the smoke shelf, clear shots to the framing header?. Unfortunately all too common. Code also requires a full inspection report before issuing a permit for instalations

    The truth is what craig and MSG implied, all too often manufactures influence code which sell their products. I have sat there during code review process and witness this first hand. The one manufacture requirement I buzzs my *** the most, is requiring tar roofing paper under the shingles. When one thinks about it, if the top shingle layer is installed correctly then what is the purpose of the tar paper? Tar paper with thousands of roof shingle nail penatrations ???? Is it susposed to correct a poor shingle installation?

    Most code is witten by people with no field or installation experience and approved by the same people lacking field experience.
    We inspectors are armed with witten code to interpet and apply to field circumstances. It's a whole different situation, than typing behind a computer. Every inspection becomes a comprosise and value judgement. Hopefully it is an easy one. I place life safety issues first and weigh each situation. Is it worth persuing or there more important battles to presue. I have passed fireboxes using common mortar knowing and confirming,, that they are supported with solid masonry backing. Failed hollow backed one.

    One does not need the mirror to hear the sound difference between solid and hollow backed fireboxes.
    So far around 11 inserts have been removed because they were installed in defective fireboxes That void to the header and poor condition firebricks non supported. There is a common occurance,, the permits were pulled after the installations. That in its own right is illegal sequence. Without a permit it should not be there. Had this been discussed prior to the installation and permit issue, I would have pointed out I will be checking the firebox intergerity All 11 are now sitting in safer fireboxes and in service

    The store sell the stove, contracts the installation and the only concern is how soon will it happen With the insert and work papers the installers install the unit then on th the next install. I have removed surounds where after the stove was pushed back in place the elbows were severed or liner disconnected the installers never checked they put the surround on and left. I will not pass another inspection with the suround installed it ends right there and payment and reinspection is scheduled

    I used to had a bore scope where, I could pry out the suround and look behind them. It got damaged on a Hamptom 300I where I discovered the liner disconnected. When I was pilling the scope out, my other hand slipped holding
    the suround out and crushed my scope.

    MSG I will accept factory documented factory revisions
  11. Metal

    Metal Minister of Fire

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    Elk- I respect how you do your inspections, and if I ever buy a new house, I hope the inspector is as "picky" as you are. In the world we live in, there are a lot of sue-happy people out there just waiting for a reason to hire a lawyer. Being in the engineering world, I get paid to be picky, which suits me fine, but I may not do as well out in the "real world" where everything isn't black and white. Keep up the good work.
  12. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Which mean.....that 99% of inspectors need to be fired? Or that 99% don't know how to inspect?
    Or that masonry fireplaces should be illegal to site build because inspectors cannot determine they are correct?

    I'm not looking for answers, but a homeowner or buyer cannot work from the premise that their entire house was built incorrectly. Either the inspectors and codes are doing their job or they are not. This is really a sad reflection on the state of enforcement. .

    According to Elk and others, they are not doing their job...and, worse yet, not doing it 99% of the time! I know Elk would change it if he could, but it may be impossible

    Again, just as you go to the drug store and expect that your pills contain the right substance, the buyer of an inspected home with a CO should be able to assume it meets at least "minimum in the field" standards. If 99% of cars were not up to their design and construction standards, you can bet some action would be taken. Is the brick lobby just too powerful?
  13. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    One more thing - I know this is nitpicking, but using the word "illegal" has been challenged before by lawyers among us! Perhaps we should use "not compliant" "not up to code" or "improperly" or some other terms which fit better.
  14. Shane

    Shane Minister of Fire

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    I still really want to know the scientific backing for some of the requirements in the construction of masonry fireplaces. Namely the clearance mentioned in the liner post. Where did it come from and why is it largely ignored? And since it is largely ignored and we don't have houses burning down left and right doesn't that indicate the the code is too stringent? Also concerning the UL1777 testing procedure, we know that there are tests measuring the amount of radiant heat emmitted from the liner at certain temperatures (1000 degrees and 2100 degrees) but what amount of heat radiated makes it fail? It seems that the code and listing procedures are erring on the side of caution, but is it a genuine safety concern or is it a great way for liner companies to ensure insulation sales? I know it's probably not some huge conspiracy or anything but it seems a little strange. Also why are most appliances tested to NFPA211 standards when the most widely recognized code are the IBC's? Wouldn't it be alot more streamlined and comprehensive to test to the standards most widely recognized?
  15. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Actually, regular masonry fireplace fail all the same UL tests that stoves and pre-fabs, etc. have to endure - so riddle me that one!


    ----------------------------
    Results:

    UL127 defines as passing, after equilibrium has been reached, if no temperature on a combustible surface has exceeded 90 degrees F above ambient temperature. When testing insulated metal fireplaces equilibrium is usually reached in a few hours whereas equilibrium takes much longer for a masonry fireplace. The rules, therefore, stipulate that the test will go on until equilibrium is reached - or twelve hours - whichever is first. Whether the UL 127 test is fair to masonry materials, which have substantial thermal mass but little insulation value, or can predict anything about fire safety in the real world, are open questions.

    The left side (attached to the 8" thick side) combustible panel exceeded the limitation of 90 degrees F above ambient at 9 hours and 30 minutes into the test and rose to 10 degrees above the limit by the end of the test.

    The right side (attached to the 12" thick side) combustible panel did not exceed the limitations, however, did exceed the limitation by as much as 18 degrees 3 hours and 20 minutes after the test had ended.

    To put these results in perspective, the temperature on the header placed 1" away from the smoke chamber wall as permitted by code, exceeded temperature limitations by 22 degrees and temperatures 6" away from the fireplace opening where combustible mantles and trim are permitted to be in contact, exceeded by 20 degrees.

    -------------------
  16. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Unfortunately you are right again concerning the construchtion of homes many are not code compliant
    Has one noticed that gun nails are thiner? All nailing patterns and codes have been brough forward from past codes there are no codes witten for thiner shank nails Also common is coil nailers that can only shoot up to 12 penny nails also notice the heads are smaller Add this up thiner shanks smaller heads and shorter lengths= non code compliance yet commonly practices in just about every home built Craig please tell us how happy you are with your stamped 1/2" fir plywood? Delamination is a point that can be failed during an inspection
  17. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    I thought the 1/2" plywood from 84 lumber would be decent...it looked good in the pile! But it started coming unglued just from one short rain!

    You are right about the air nail guns. First of all, framers do not know how to set them right, so the nails end up going too far into the wood. My solution is to go around and renail everything using a hammer!

    It's a good thing that I am quickly covering all that plywood junk or it would get me mad every time I look at it. Next time I am following Elk and my other friends advice and getting 5/8" - also will research and inspect the stuff carefully.

    Bottom line is even though things ain't what they used to be, I don't see many houses falling down (at least here in New England) because of poor framing.

    I remember using 3/8" plywood on top of trusses that were 24" OC. It would hold the roof OK, but not a human! You had to step only where the truss was!

    I looked more at those masonry codes, and they use a reference to "known to be safe" , which does sound like BS. In other words, because it flunks UL tests, they rather reference construction that they assume to be safe (for instance, 10 million fireplaces were built this way, and very few fires result)....while that might sound like common sense, they don't mention that 9.9 million of these fireplaces are not heavily used!

    So, once again we have proven that construction IS ROCKET SCIENCE and it takes experience to know what is safe and what is not. As Elk says, you cannot do a big fudge on gas dryer clearances...that should be evident to all parties involved. Maybe 1 7/8" or 1 3/4" is ok, but not zero or 1".

    Also, as Elk mentions there are multiple violations in just about every house.....bottom line is that some inspection is better than no inspection, and in general houses are getting safer and safer. Overkill allows for some slop when codes are not exactly adhered to.
  18. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    One more comment for the record.....codes tend to be a few years behind...take the liner codes. Some reading shows me that they are reacting to the many chimney fires that resulted from millions of stove installations in the late 70's and early 80's. But, they have not yet taken into account that modern stoves burn so cleanly that the chance of such a hot chimney fire is almost zero.....a good example is a car engine. Notice the large amount of plastic under the hood right on the engine of newer cars. You would not see that on old vehicles. That is because efficiency and cooling of the new engines allow the lower temp materials.

    On one hand, it is becoming against code to install an older stove - on the other hand, all liners are taking into account temps that ONLY an older stove could create.

    But UL says to get the liner to X temperature - that's like saying to allow the temperature under the hood of the new car to reach the same temp as the old cars did.....anyway, just a comment to add to the mix.
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