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PA codes for installing a wood stove

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Chrism, Mar 5, 2011.

  1. Chrism

    Chrism Feeling the Heat

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    does anyone know a link for the state of PA for installing wood stoves in your home ? Thank you

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  2. kingquad

    kingquad Minister of Fire

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    There are no state codes that I know of. Call your local building authority and ask them. My building authority wanted it installed to the manufacturers spec's, but they didn't really inspect it. They just wanted me to pay for a building permit and inspect it so they could raise my taxes. The inspector knew jack s*!t about wood burning appliances. They just wanted the $$$$$.
  3. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    Correct, it is based off of local city/township. They don't even care to look at it. While others here have reported stricter rules/laws/codes in other areas of PA.
  4. Chrism

    Chrism Feeling the Heat

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    Your taxes go up cause of a wood stove are you kiddin me !!!
  5. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    See, not in my area. I didn't even need a permit.
  6. SnapCracklePop

    SnapCracklePop Feeling the Heat

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    No zoning in the township in which I live, but I did contact my State Farm agent, and she came out and took photos of my installation. Then they added $50 a year to my homeowner's insurance.

    Nancy
  7. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    I think we had an increase of $20.
  8. kingquad

    kingquad Minister of Fire

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    Don't know for sure yet, but it I believe it "increased the value of our home" so I'm expecting an increase. I can say with complete certainty that the safety of the install was never a factor with the inspector cause he had no clue what he was looking at. I showed him receipts, pics of the install, and the finished product and he was satisfied. I didn't have my tile hearth extension completed, but the tile was laid and that was enough to please him. In the end, the permit was a complete waste and I should have never bothered. Every installer I talked to looked at me like I had a D*$! growing out of my forehead when I asked them about pulling a permit. Now I know why.
  9. Chrism

    Chrism Feeling the Heat

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    Yeah I pay the town enough taxes I'm gonna install it the correct way and no need for them to know !!
  10. kingquad

    kingquad Minister of Fire

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    Just make sure your insurance company is aware of the install. I've heard some insurance companies want to inspect the install. Mine didn't.
  11. KTLM

    KTLM Member

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    I don't have any codes to consider but i certainly don't want to burn my house down. Insurance co. said have it installed properly and send me a couple of pics. No cost adjustment.
  12. SnapCracklePop

    SnapCracklePop Feeling the Heat

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    I wonder what will happen when I install my Englander, too? Another $50?
  13. GAMMA RAY

    GAMMA RAY Minister of Fire

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    30 buck increase in our homeowner's insurance (Allstate) no inspections
  14. Riegel

    Riegel New Member

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    It depends on where you live and if the inspector has a clue. I had my first stove installed in 2005. I pulled a permit and they wanted specs on the stove and pipe used. I had to take pictures on where it was being installed. Draw a sketch of the install including clearances. Supply proof of insurance from the installer and contractor code. After the install the inspector spent all of 2 minutes to do a visual inspection and sign-off.

    Insurance company was notified. They only asked if it was a professional install. My rates never went up.

    February 2011, New wood Stove insert. New inspector in town. He requested all the same as the previous inspector but I got a speech on proper maintenance, cleaning, burning seasoned wood, ect. Then I see the shirt he is wearing. He is a fire inspector for another nearby County. He tells me he is a volunteer fire fighter and sees chimney fires all the time.

    Then he wants the name and number for the stove shop I purchased it from. He said he was going to call them and ask them how they install the stove. He wants all the details.

    The stove has been installed and I'm in the process of extending the hearth. The trim kit or surround is on back order so I'm not calling for the inspection until everything is done. Not sure what to expect from this guy when he shows up?

    In all honesty I probably could have gotten away with not pulling a permit. There is nothing gained from it. I dealt with a local shop that does a proper install. It's all about the money! If you are not an educated burner and don't do your research I see where their would be an added value in having a third party check the install. Again, my insurance was notified and all they asked was "was it a professional install". No rate change so far.
  15. madison

    madison Minister of Fire

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    State Farm as well, but no premium change with inspected install... Pleasant surprise on this end.
  16. alleghenyman

    alleghenyman Member

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    I've been looking into this very issue tonight. I was planning on posting this question here eventually but my web searches brought me here anyways. I'm going to take you through my analysis of the ordinances of my particular borough because it may help you to analyze your own municipality's ordinances. I'll follow up with my own experiences and observations.

    This can be confusing stuff, which is why people need attorneys. I am an attorney, but I'm not your attorney, and nothing that I'm writing here is meant to be legal advice. However if your municipality is anything like mine, it's an under-funded racket that treats you like an inconvenience when it isn't trying to bully you like you're in middle school. I think the laws work best when everyone knows their meaning, and the economy works best when we can spend our lunch money as we see fit. Hopefully my discussion below will inspire you to look into your own municipality's ordinances.

    Local Ordinances:
    I live in Crafton Borough, a suburb of Pittsburgh. My borough's ordinances just say that the "Borough hereby elects to administer and enforce the provisions of the Pennsylvania Construction Code Act, 35 P.S. § 7210.101, as amended." Pennsylvania's Act adopts the Uniform Construction Code [UCC]. See http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt?open=514&objID=552999&mode=2#104.

    The state law gives municipalities the power to regulate wood stove installation, but municipalities cannot do so unless they pass an ordinance. My municipality has no such ordinance. The powers of the Fire Chief include "The Fire Chief shall report to the Borough Council any property, building, condition or practice which is not in accordance with the ordinary provisions for fire prevention or protection," however this would not apply to an installation that meets manufacturer's standards, and no ordinance requires that the Fire Department inspect stove installations. The Borough Ordinances contain a section with Modifications to Standards for the UCC but again, nothing about wood stoves.

    The borough building code ordinances say nothing about requiring a building permit for a wood stove. The zoning ordinances regulate the emissions of "malodorous gas or matter" and the color and shade of smoke emissions, but nothing about stoves.

    Other PA municipalities require a permit to install a wood stove but these ordinances do not cite to any PA statute such as the one adopting the Uniform Construction Code. For example, see Somerset Borough's code: http://www.somersetborough.com/inspections/wburner.htm.

    Pennsylvania Statute:
    The section of PA's Act governing how the Act applies states that as a general rule "This act shall apply to the construction, alteration, repair and occupancy of all buildings in this Commonwealth," then lists numerous exclusions including:
    "alterations to residential buildings which do not make structural changes or changes to means of egress, except as might be required by ordinances in effect pursuant to section 303(b)(1) or adopted pursuant to section 503. For purposes of this paragraph, a structural change does not include a minor framing change needed to replace existing windows or doors". Section 303(b)(1) pertains to municipal codes that exceed the requirements of the UCC; Section 503 pertains to amendments to the UCC.

    My particular installation requires making a 6 inch hole in a chimney to connect to a flue liner. At most, this is akin to a minor framing change needed to replace a door. The chimney already exists and already has a flue. I do not interpret this to require a building permit for a wood stove installation. Conditions of your own installation may vary.
  17. alleghenyman

    alleghenyman Member

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    How All of This Shakes Out:

    After watching an ugly battle when a neighbor who failed to get building or zoning permits built an ill-advised garage addition that blocked the view of another neighbor who is certifiably OCD, and after dealing with another strange and emotionally unstable old man across the street, I decided it would be a good idea to inquire with the borough about getting a building permit for my stove installation.

    My insurance agent, a family friend, was not happy about me putting in a wood stove and said a permit would be a good idea, and that the important thing is that the installation meets the stove maker's standards.

    The borough building inspector told me that building permits are required for any mechanical addition to a house and that a stove is a mechanical addition. I paid a contractor I know $100 to make me some drawings, but a few of the specs weren't quite right. Then other doubts set in. The permit costs a basic fee plus a percentage of the project cost, and even for something as relatively cheap as an Englander and some insulated chimney flex liner, I was looking at a $400 permit.

    My biggest concern however was that I would be drawing unwanted attention and that the code inspector would find reasons not to approve the application out of some prejudice against wood burning, fueled by his sympathetic relationship with the tormented old men who raised so much Cain over The Garage. I can't get the Borough to plow the alley next to my house, but the first night I lived here I parked my car there and a cop car showed up right away to ask me to move it. This code enforcement officer sends me unverified Complaints threatening criminal sanction for leaving my cats out all day, refuses to tell me who witnessed these deeds or how my cats are distinguishable from the half-dozen strays roaming around, and then tells me it is OK so long as I keep them within the confines of my little yard. The absence of normal good faith and reason would be amusing if these clowns weren't threatening to deny my property rights and take my money.

    Since I don't see anything in the borough ordinances about building permit requirements for “mechanical installations†I am leaning towards not applying for a building permit. I do not advocate breaking the law, but my experience has been that borough officers seldom take the time to read the rules that govern how they do their work. I recommend that you read your own municipality's ordinances to arm yourself with the facts. They can be stubborn things indeed.
  18. jeff_t

    jeff_t Minister of Fire

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    I'm not sure I would even call a wood stove a 'mechanical addition'. It's a space heater. It doesn't add anything to the value of your home. In fact, it may do the opposite unless you have the right buyer. But you're the attorney ;-)
    Personally, I haven't gotten any permits for any of the work I've been doing. I have no idea who would inspect a stove install, but I know it's nobody from the fire department. The building inspector is known as 'drive by Dave'. I'm sure whoever it is, I would be educating the inspector. I'm not going to pay for that privilege. None of the work I've done is visible from the road, except for the shiny new class A sticking up over the roofline. And yes, I asked my insurance agent.
  19. Chrism

    Chrism Feeling the Heat

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    Jeff were in same boat I pay the insurance on MY house I pay the bills on MY house!!!! None of their biz what I do with MY house.
  20. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    If you are talking about it not being the business of the Township, that's up to you.

    If you are thinking bout not calling the insurance company, that is a bad move.

    pen
  21. shawneyboy

    shawneyboy New Member

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    Well for me I needed no permit. I of course contacted insurance, they wanted to know who installed, since it was a professional, they wanted make and model of stove, no change in premium.

    Shawn
  22. kingquad

    kingquad Minister of Fire

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    If you have neighbors that have already turned people in for code violations, then I would get the permit.
  23. alleghenyman

    alleghenyman Member

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    My reading of my borough's code is that a permit is not required. I am trying to decide whether I'd rather pay $400 and possibly battle the borough to get the permit, or to apologize later and pay for the permit and possibly a fine if I can't win the argument that a permit isn't required.

    Curious if anyone else has had similar experiences....

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