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Hijacked my own thread Hearthnet formulates Outdoor Boiler regs

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by elkimmeg, Apr 15, 2006.

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  1. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Here is a sample of existing regs I presenting my recomendations to our local board of health to adopt Let hash it out here and see what we come up with. Following is current regs in other states and comunities.

    http://www.dhfs.state.wi.us/eh/HlthHaz/fs/waterstoves.htm#ExistingLaws

    In some communities, the best approach to managing nuisance complaints and public health hazards is a local ordinance that restricts or bans the use of OWBs. While water stoves are typically used in rural settings, an increasing number are being installed in subdivisions and small towns. If your municipality is receiving complaints about OWBs, you should consider the following best-management practices for their placement and use:

    1. Ensure that OWBs are installed where they do not create an air pollution health hazard. Local officials should give careful consideration to the influence that changes in land use can have on where OWBs are installed. This is especially important when agriculturally zoned land is changed to residential. This frequently results in homes being built too close to OWBs.
    2. Restrict what can be burnt in an OWB to clean dry firewood.
    3. Place OWBs at least 300-500 feet from the nearest building which is not on the same property as the unit.
    4. Require that OWB chimneys be 15 feet high, or at least as high as the roofs of nearby buildings.
    5. Require annual permitting of OWBs by the local fire chief.

    For more guidance on establishing control over the installation and use of OWBs please refer to the DNR "Model Ordinance for Outdoor Burning, Open Burning and Burning of Refuse – A Guide for Wisconsin Counties, Cities, Villages and Towns." You can retrieve this document at http://dnr.wi.gov/org/caer/ce/ob/modelOrdinance.htm. (exit
    DHFS)


    The states of Vermont and Washington do regulate OWBs. The Vermont regulations include the44
    following provisions:
    (1) Installation of an OWB must be at least 200 feet from the nearest neighboring residence;
    (2) The stack on the furnace must be higher than the roof line if the furnace is between 200
    feet and 500 feet from the nearest neighboring home;
    (3) The OWB must comply with local ordinances and its operation must not create a
    nuisance;
    (4) Dealers and sellers of OWBs must provide buyers with a legal notice stating that: only
    untreated natural wood may be burned; installation is subject to the distance and stack
    height requirements stated above; and that the OWB, even if meeting the above
    requirements, may not be used if the terrain is inappropriate and renders the OWB to be
    a nuisance or public health hazard. This legal notice must be signed by both the buyer

    Town of Queensbury - A permit is required for operation of an OWB and must meet the following
    requirements: (a) only firewood and untreated lumber may be burned, (b) may be installed only in
    permitted zones, (c) must be installed on a lot of three acres or more, (d) must be set back at least 200
    feet from nearest lot line, (e) may only be operated between September 1 and May 31, and (f) must best st
    equipped with a properly functioning spark arrestor.

    Village of South Glens Falls - Installation of any OWB must meet the following requirements: (a)
    smokestack must exceed four feet and be higher than any adjacent structure within 50 feet of the
    furnace, (b) must be installed at least 200 feet from the closest residential property line, (c) may only
    burn wood, and (d) may not be used as a waste incinerator.

    Town of Moreau (proposed) - A permit, issued by the Town Building Inspector or Code Enforcement
    Officer, is required for operation of an OWB and must meet the following requirements: (a) only
    firewood and untreated lumber may be burned, (b) may be installed only in permitted zones, (c) must be
    installed on a lot of three acres or more, (d) must be set back at least 500 feet from nearest lot line, (e)
    may only be operated between September 1 and May 31, and (f) must be equipped with a properlyst st
    functioning spark arrestor.

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  2. babalu87

    babalu87 New Member

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    Really the only one that cant be enforced
    Once people figure out they burn a dozen plus cord of wood a season they will put anything in it that will burn

    Its like telling a teenager not to do burnouts with his mothers car
  3. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    I like these guidelines. But they will not solve the problem. For instance, we know the smoke from a 15 foot stack is likely to drift downward and cover the neighbors!

    The bext parts, in my opinion, are:

    1. Will not operate as to become a public nuisance (this gives a lot of freedom if neighbors are badly affected.
    2. The paper that the customer has to sign (maybe this will talk some folks out of it and let the other folks know it is serious business).

    It is important for the regs to be very well known at the dealer end, since every citizen can't be expected to know every law.
  4. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    The set-back distances (200ft - 500ft) seem woefully inadequate. I think a mile would be needed to prevent all the proverbial complaints from neighbors. At a minimum, I'd start with 2000 feet. And that's a bare minimum IMO. A mile seems more realistic to git 'er done when I put myself in the shoes of a neighbor. It will be bad enough just smelling the thing 24/7. They shouldn't have to deal with more than that. At 500ft, neighbors will easily get 'smoked-out', at least on occasion, when the wind is blowing their way, IMO. Better safe than sorry.
  5. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    There are 3 residential zones in my town
    30,000 sq ft

    43,000 sq ft

    and 2 acre

    plus a lot of cotages surounding 3 lakes in our town converted to full time residences many of these lots are less than 12,000 sq ft

    2 existing outdoor boilers are isolated on large tracts of land one being 80 acres + the other 25 acres the third one that the complaints have been lodged in near the 30,000 residential zone. To answer Harry yes there have been law suits about smoke and the offender has either been sued or forced to remove the appliance.. My concern is to eliminate future setups that will offend others.

    Time is now to address it . If enough address it. it will force manufactures to design effecient clean Owb. Last thing I want to be in the middle is a neighborhood pissing war.

    One state addressed it this way they set a maxium grams per hour produced by any combustion appliance I think it is WA.

    To address the indoor Tarn boilers concerns at this point we are discussing the Outdoor units however if grams per hour laws are implemented it would effect indoor boilers. though some sort of grandfathering would have to be implemented in all fairness. A time period and good publication and notice would have to be a grace period where if one exist the owners could produce either a past permitt or bill of sale as proof. That appliance would be listed as prior to the code changes and be grandfathered
  6. Rob From Wisconsin

    Rob From Wisconsin Minister of Fire

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    YES!!!
    The seller of my bother-in-law's Outdoor Boiler told him
    that he could burn quite literaly anything - garbage included,
    which he did. He would burn nearly anything he could, even
    including "loaves of bread" he would get from the day-old from
    the bakery. And still, his boiler was always "hungry" a short time
    later.....
    Yuk!!!!!

    Rob
  7. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    That is a poor way to address it because then you have to deal with labs and testing of units - for instance, every open fireplace - site built or pre-fab, would also fall under these!

    I think these are best classified as "outdoor burning" which they are - and you can probably regulate them similar to how you regulate a fire in a 55 gallon drum. Again, I like the nuisance thing since any one of these burned incorrectly is likely to cause a problem - and this way the problem must be fixed. Basically, you tell the waterstove owner than they must stop burning or else figure out how to burn clean. Some units have forced draft which are likely to work better....

    Truth be told, the best thing would be for the dang things to be illegal....and they even might be, but they seem to have climbed in through a big loophole. I support at least basic testing for efficiency - set the bar high - maybe 20 grams an hour considering the firebox size. But you will never get that passed locally. Maybe I'll get involved with our trade org on this issue - those manufacturers will love me (hint: there is a reason they don't advertise on this site).

    The funny thing is - they could easily satisfy both me and the local officials if they simply made some effort! As it is, they seem to be moving quite slow. The technology for cleaner burning is well known and it should take them less than one year to redesign and implement. They should not be held to the same standard as stoves, but rather to a standard of emissions per kilo of wood burned.
  8. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I hope you're not serious, Mo. If anyone came up with regulations that stringent, you wouldn't be allowed to use your insert, either.

    Be careful, in other words, what you wish for.
  9. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Eric, I don't mean to be callus toward outdoor wood boiler owners (or anyone for that matter), but my woodstove is EPA certified and puts out very little smoke. I live in a neighborhood with some high-falootin' folks, and so far, no complaints after two years of moderate burning. Not even from the two within 30 feet of me. Hell, one of those guys smokes 10 (maybe 100) times as much as me on the fairly rare occasion that he lights up one of this fireplaces. You can really see his smoke, but since it is only once in a blue moon, it really doesn't bother me. I know it will be out by nightfall and it won't be burning again for a month or two.

    The smoke I saw in about an hour of hiking, coming from what I believe was an outdoor boiler, was probably as much smoke as I and my neighbor together put out in an entire winter.

    Like I said, if no one is complaining, there is no problem. Whether you are burning an outdoor boiler, indoor boiler, or EPA certified stove. AND, I think those already installed should be grandfathered if there are no complaints, or should be fairly compensated by public funds somehow, if removal or upgrade to a more efficient model is indicated.

    If my neighbors don't complain about wood smoke from an EPA stove, I doubt anyone would. Outdoor boilers seem to constitute a different data set altogether. Setting higher standards would surely produce better boilers that could be burned without complaint in closer quarters. Grandfathering and compensating would surely be fair to those who already have them. I don't want anyone to get screwed over. Boiler owners or their neighbors.
  10. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I wasn't taking issue with your basic point, Mo--just your over-the-top setbacks. Anyone who would implement a draconian standard like a one-mile setback is not going to listen to any of your EPA-compliant talk. They'll just outlaw wood burning altogether.

    And, how do you know that was an outdoor burner? I've been driving all over New England this spring and most of the copious amounts of smoke I've seen have been coming out of chinmeys. There's a lot more to smoke production than the device being used. A lot has to do with things like micro-climates, condition of the wood, maintenance, burning habits, etc. I've seen some relatively new Tarms kick out more smoke than some outdoor units.

    It ain't a black and white world.
  11. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    The thread was not so much the merits of OWB's but I was hoping for fruitfull advice .
    Lets face it, threw the woods measuring one mile, moving 100' tape is quite a pain
    Again is a 3 acre of 5 acre lot requiremenmt enough the separation distance has to be realistic
    What about chimney height requirements. Some town ban their use between May and Sept
    Other codes require them not th be the sole heating system, meaning originally a heating system is in place
    They can function as the primary but still require the existance of a conventional heating system.

    If they did not belch smoke there would be no need to regulate. Or the Epa set guidlines, but sadly this is not the case.
    Waiting for the EPA if anything like SUV milage requirements, they set the rules 5 years from now.
  12. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    i think the best all around solution, make the companys redesign their units and for those that are grandfathered in they may install after market cat converters. that may not eliminate smoke but it would clean things up considerably. if people are worried about their cat converters than they will burn dry cord wood and not trash and old tires. and if they cooked thier cat from burning s*** then they will be shut down untill it is repaired.

    think about a unit installed 2000 feet from the structure that they're heating it would have to burn even more wood to over come the distance.

    if we're worried about polution and the owner of this outdoor boiler is heating a house that a wood stove can heat with 5 cord what in the world are we thinking about with this boiler that will burn 15 cord. that just doesn't add up. if you have a farm and your heating your house part of a barn and 2 outhouses than that might be a less pollutable way of heating than 4 wood stoves or oil burners.
    heating a house doesn't make sense. like what was said earlier when the owners of one of these boilers figures out that he is going to have to suppliment his wood pile with other things thats a bigger ploblem. why not cut it off at the pass. and not allow one of these things for heating just one building.

    i do have one of these in my town. that is the one i know of. about 2.5 miles from my house. it's right next to the highway. you can see it from the highway if you know where to look. these people heat multiple buildings. they also burn wisely it's almost smokeless about the same as a woodstove. but not everybody uses their head to think.

    just my opinion
  13. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    I see your point. However, let me counter with another point that makes 1 mile setbacks maybe seem less than over-the-top.

    I like guns. I think those who want them should own them. I believe gun ownership reduces home invasions, etc. I don't like people telling me I'm irresponsible, shortsighted, dangerous, or a criminal because I OWN them. I suspect this feeling may be similar in outdoor wood boiler owners who are catching all the flack. But OWNING a gun or OWNING an outdoor wood boiler is very different than OPERATING either in a manner that puts neighbors (or others) at risk or aggravation. For guns this nuisance and danger would be muzzle report or a neighbor accidentally stopping a bullet. For OWBs this would be industrial volumes of smoke production and health issues associated with HIGH levels and near continuous exposure to wood smoke.

    It is common sense not to allow people to discharge firearms in their neighborhood if there are houses within range, except maybe in life threatening situations, police actions, etc. It is also common to have laws stating that it is okay to discharge firearms only a mile (or more) beyond city limits, etc. I see a strong correlation between these two types of behaviors.

    Good point. I tried to clearly state that I wasn't sure it was an OWB, because I didn't know for sure. But by deduction using my understanding of how these things function, I'm fairly sure it was an OWB (but not certain as you suggest and I admit). I could see a periodic discharge of serious amounts of smoke with intervals of 20 or 30 minutes in between. It was obviously from some sort of chimney, and the intervals of reduced smoke led me to guess is was probably an OWB. It was clearly wood smoke based upon my experienced nose. It was in a remote location and the outdoor temp was near 70*F, so it wasn't anything else I could think of that would use a chimney on such a hillside. Still, I have no idea if it actually was an OWB.

    But regardless, if OWB's smoke as much, or even nearly as much, as this thing did, I feel like I got a dose of what neighbors are complaining about. And if so, I don't blame them.

    You are probably not the average wood boiler user. You unilaterally added additional equipment (catalyst) for the sole purpose of reducing your smoke. You burn only seasoned HARDwood. You understand combustion and how to make it cleaner. You likely do all manner of firing technique things to keep your smoke 'footprint' to a minimum. But imagine if you had a neighbor that was burning railroad ties or garbage or green logs or brush or what-have-you and I think you will see why it could be a nightmare for anyone within 400 feet and probably significantly farther. 2,000 feet sounds like a lot, but it's less than two laps of your typical high school track. Not really all that far as the crow flies. A skilled marksman could hit an outdoor boiler at that distance with the appropriate setup. ;)

    The neighbors in back of my house are about 400 feet away (an easy pistol shot ;) and when I first light up, I can see the smoke flowing right at them if the wind is blowing that way. I go to great pains not to create any more smoke than absolutely necessary to prevent them from experiencing it. If I had an outdoor wood boiler or even threw caution to the wind with my EPA stove, those poor bastards would be crying like babies. They already do every forth of July and New Years. ;) That 400 feet seems an inadequate distance to diffuse even moderate amounts of smoke. It would seem seriously inadequate to diffuse a serious amount of smoke.
  14. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Well, the gun analogy is an interesting one, except that some people who own guns hope they never have to use them, while nearly everyone who owns a wood-burning appliance plans to use it. In both cases it's the use, not the posession, that has the potential for problems. You seem to be making my point, which is that it's not the device, but how it's used that should trigger official sanctions.

    In that case, you don't need setbacks or EPA regs or any other busy-body ordinances. All you really need is more law enforcement.

    That said, I still think we need some basic standards for both firearms and wood-burning appliances, and I prefer an EPA standard for boilers to a patchwork quilt of local ordinances and ill-informed and/or misguided standards. We don't let gun dealers sell automatic weapons or dynamite, and boiler manufacturers should be held to the same type of EPA minimum standards as wood stove manufacturers.

    I don't want to shoot off on another rant, but people seem to equate wood consumption with morality when discussing OWBs.

    If you live in Maryland or Tenessee or West Virginia and you're heating a 1,200 square foot house with a wood stove, then you're not going to burn nearly as much wood as somebody living in northern Maine or N. New York or the Upper Peninsula of Michigan heating a 2,400 square foot house with a boiler. Are you producing your domestic hot water with electricity or gas or wood? Are you burning pine or red oak? Does the fact that you burn less wood than me make you a better person?

    All these factors make a huge difference in wood consumption. Judging somebody on their wood consumption without considering the underlying circumstances is a pretty narrow-minded approach, IMO.
  15. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    There is some truth to this, but only if you're thinking of shooting people! Many shoot guns regularly at target ranges.

    In principle I agree that it is the behavior and not the device, so I think we're both aiming at the same target. But it's a little easier to know if someone DID or did NOT shoot a gun in the hood. There is a bang or no bang (excluding silencers which are strictly illegal). It's another thing to determine subjective levels of annoyance or nuisance from smoke. Some smoke is okay, but how much more is NOT okay? That depends a lot on whether you are creating it, or you are down wind from it. It's hard to determine objectively without EPA assurances for each product.

    Seems like everyone would benefit from more efficient OWBs (less fuel, etc.) except the OWB-Man and his customers who already bought an inefficient OWB. Grandfather those installs that have no complaints. Shut down and compensate those installs with complaints. Make all new OWBs EPA compliant to some chosen efficiency. End of OWB problem. You just have to get the EPA colossus to move in that direction.

    Not sure I agree here. I think there are already too many firearm laws. But I know all the gun debate conflict generates campaign megabucks, so politicians will continue to fuel the controversy with greater gusto than the poor bastard who has the dubious honor of owning, and continuously loading, the least efficient of all the OWBs. I doubt the OWB issue will ever get so heated. And I'd think it would be somewhat appropriate for localities that are primarily rural to shoot more from the hip than urban centers where more community members will likely be affected by the serious discharge from an OWB.

    From the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy ( http://www.iep.utm.edu/a/aristotl.htm ):

    Law, for Aristotle, is the outward expression of the moral ideal without the bias of human feeling. It is thus no mere agreement or convention, but a moral force coextensive with all virtue. Since it is universal in its character, it requires modification and adaptation to particular circumstances through equity.
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