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Question of the day. I need help understanding this situation

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by elkimmeg, Dec 17, 2005.

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  1. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    How do manufactures like US Stoves get away with manufacturing stoves that are not EPA compliant? Further, can someone explain what it means to be tested to UL standards yet not carry the UL label? The same manufacturer US stoves does manufacture EPA approved models. Two other manufactures come to mind doing the same thing Volzsang and Droit. This week I have to condemn another Volzsang stove. I know hardware stores like Ace, True Value, sells these stoves but how? If they are allowed to sell non-approved stoves non-certified stoves how are they getting away with it. As an inspector, I am having a problem approving unlisted stoves, especially when the last one would have burned the house down. The mentioned Ashley falls into this category ( tested to UL standards but no UL listing ) Does this mean it did not past the testing? Saying tested to a standard is not proof of certification? If not, how can these stoves be sold without minimum safety standards? If codes are minimum safety standards, how does one apply them to a stove that is not? This being the case, are barrel stoves now legal to install? Any person with some welding abilities, can start manufacturing wood stoves to sell to the public? I saw one such Ebay auction yesterday? As past post indicated wood stove fires will be on the rise. Who governs these major hardware chains selling these fire death boxes or Northern Hydraulics? What ever happened efficient EPA approved clean environmentally friendly stoves? I mean if this is allowed, which it seems, isn’t this many steps backward? Is the retailer responsible informing the purchaser, he is an about to purchase unlisted non –approved stove, that can not be permitted or legally installed in occupied dwelling?

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  2. Willhound

    Willhound Feeling the Heat

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    I guess your question is somewhat rhetorical in that we all know that there is, unfortunately, not an overall body in North America that oversees the certification of wood burning stoves. Testing and certification is voluntary. What needs to change, in my opinion is the knowledge level and mindset of a lot of people that get into burning wood without really thinking about what they are doing.

    Anybody that has the least bit of knowledge about wood burning knows that you need to ask the right questions, and look for the proper certification labels. If you really know what you are doing and still decide to purchase an un-certified unit for a particular reason, then great, as long as you realize what you are doing. As an example, I've seen some perfectly safe and useable non-certified stoves used in applications like temporary shelters, ice fish huts etc., but the common reality of these applications is that they are not typically habitated for any length of time, and certainly not overnight.

    Why do the big-box retailers continue to sell these items? Because they are typically less expensive, and Billy-Bob that doesn't know any better takes one look at the price tag and says "Yep, that's the one for me".

    If he knew better, he wouldn't buy them at any price, in which case the retailers would quit selling them PDQ. (I guess selling these actually generates business, because once you burn your house down, they can then also sell you the lumber to re-build.)

    Now, as to the point of an over-seeing body, this is not neccesarily a good thing, particularly if another government beuracracy. We've all seen how they can go sour.

    My suggestion? I think it is in the best interests of the the more reputable (and certified) manufaturers and the specialty wood-burning retailers to begin a public relations and public education campaign aimed at the general public that praises the virtues of EPA approved, certified and properly installed wood burning appliances. Some of the material could even highlight the possibly deadly consequences of not doing so. Yes, it will take a lot of time and effort, and not everyone will get on board, but I think a lot could be done to make people realize that yes, a properly certified and installed unit, from a reputable and knowledgeable dealer is a much better "value" than the fact that you saved $50 because you bought a stove from a 17 year old kid at a big box store.

    A very good example of an industry that has done this is the recreational vehicle industry. The manufacturers and dealers have banded together and contributed to the "Go RVing" campaign with those feel-good ads about the benefits of spending time with your family in your new RV.
    Don't think for a minute that this didn't boost RV sales, or they wouldn't be doing it.

    There are a lot of hard working dealers out there that make every attempt to educate their customers, or potential customers, and to promote the industry. Unfortunately, there are also a lot that sit on the sidelines and complain and moan about the big box boys taking their sales away. Welcome to the free-market economy.

    Willhound
  3. Roospike

    Roospike New Member

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    $50. ?? These non EPA stoves in the farm stores and big box stores are $500 - $1000. +++ less than a standard EPA stove. How are the non EPA stoves being sold was a question i had a few post ago on a different thread. Hell , when i first started looking for a new stove again i didnt know the difference as well as most. The first place i looked was the box store and farm store just because i was there anyway so i went ahead and looked . I said" Yep , about $500-$800. for a new stove . There was nothing hanging up telling me i needed EPA or even what EPA was , nothing telling me about insurance issues or stoves needing permits to be installed ect ...ect ....These was nothing in todays paper or yesterdays paper telling me anything about all this info before i bought a stove. PEOPLE JUST DONT KNOW ! How are buyers to know about wood stoves when there in nothing to tell them this info. Somebody has to dig to find out this info . Hey , how about a hot water heater ? The old hot water heater in old and or broke and you need/ would like a new one ......no big deal for the do-it-yourselfer right ? Head down to the loacl box store , how about that ,,,, they have hot water heaters , great ........well there is a good price one one and its the one i like so i will buy it and install it in my house . Nobody knows the difference and buys what they like and goes down the road about it. Do you think every body checks the net and get on forums and does 8++ hours of research before that buy something ??? NO ... I think that most people dont know the difference . My brother just bought a new stove this past year from a local farm store .......bought the single wall black pipe to hook to the stove and out the house and 20" up the side of the house , yes all single wall black pipe . I had asked him about his new stove ........."What is EPA?", he said. "What do you mean i should not of run all single wall black pipe?", he said . He was non the wiser and for the average buyer they are not informed . So why do we think that that non EPA stoves and old Ebay stoves are out selling new modern EPA & UL listed stoves ? Price & most do not know the difference. Just my thoughts.
  4. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

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    I suspect the difference between UL tested and UL approved is $$$. Probably what happens is to get the UL approval, you test the stove using certain methods under the watchful eye of the UL and pay a hefty fee for their services. If you are just UL tested, you could read their test specification...maybe it says (purely hypothetical) - "Stove shall withstand an impact of 10 ft.lbs on the top surface" Well instead of paying a lab big bucks for a certified test, you go out and get a 10 lb chunk of metal and drop it on the lid. It passed the test, but is not "certified" I guess another option would be that the stove was UL tested, but failed. A play of semantics would allow you to claim "UL tested" when the stove is not "approved".

    As for the EPA regs, I thought I saw an ad somewhere that read something like "not EPA approved - for non habitable space only" Is there such a law that would allow non-epa stoves to be installed in barns and outbuildings, but forbid them in homes?

    Corey
  5. Willhound

    Willhound Feeling the Heat

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    Hey Roo
    OK, I was being a little loose when I suggested a $50 price difference. I actually used a ridiculous amount to highlight how ridiculous the situation is when a buyer makes a decision solely on price, and sometimes for not a big difference. Your last line about price and most not knowing the difference pretty much sums up my argument, I think. I truly believe that if buyers were more educated and honestly cared about the safety of themselves and their families, price would come second. I'm being general here, we all know that there is always an idiot section of the population.

    As far as the issue of non-EPA stoves being sold, I think it again highlights that there are not any across the board regs in North America. California in the U.S. and British Columbia in Canada are two notable exceptions that require EPA ratings. There may be others, I don't know.

    Interestingly, most of the higher quality units that meet ULC/CSA standards are also, I believe, EPA compliant. OK, I'm being general here, I'm sure someone can point out several approved units that are not EPA friendly, don't shoot me. The point I'm trying to make is that when I was shopping around, I knew I needed a ULC approved unit for insurance purposes and any that I considered happened to be EPA certified, which I am happy with. I'm not an ardent environmentalist, but I do care about air quality and the future of the planet that my kids will grow up in. Another advantage I think is that lower emmissions usually make for happier neighbours and promotes a better image of wood burning in general.

    You make a VERY valid point about there not being any signs or warnings or information available at the retail level (particularly larger retailers), but is this the responsibility of the retailer? They don't care, they just want to sell you something. But again, a smaller specialized wood burning retailer can more easily supply this information by dealing with customers one on one, and I think that most responsible ones can, or should.

    It all comes down to this. An industry can regulate itself, or the government can do it for them.

    It may already be too late. With the number of uneducated buyers out there that are likely to jump on the wood burning band wagon as a result of increased heating costs, there are definately (and unfortunately) going to be more incidents and more grumpy neighbours which will, in my opinion, force governments to step in. Believe me, after the first few big CNN stories about fire tragedies and wood burning air pollution the politicians will be falling all over themselves to be the first to stand in front of the media and say "We must do something about this!".

    And in my opinion, that will not neccesarily be the best route to take.

    In closing, I think that we all owe it to ourselves to talk about the positive aspects of residential wood burning to ensure that we will be able to keep doing it in future, and that maybe we owe it to our fellow man to make sure that we always mention the need for properly certified and clean burning equipment. (It's Christmas, I'm feeling a sense of good will to all men)

    Willhound
  6. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    I'm only one voice questioning this issue. I try my damnest to insure the safest installations in my town. Even that is not enough.This situation is the prime example of what can go wrong http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/581/

    It is very missleading for manufactures to include miss information in there listings, such as ( tested to UL standards)
    These very manufactures also sell approved and listed stoves. They know exactly what they are doing misleading the public.
    There is no doubt at their attempt. Volzang even discloses this model is not UL approved in its listing. but this is also deceiving. How many buyers do or allowed to open the box and read the manual till the end to discover this disclaimer. This is all calculated by the manufacturer. Where are the warning lables required to most product sold in large print about potential hazzards?

    How important is it to know what one is dealing with. How many post this week or the past week, someone picked up a used stove and is now trying to find out what they actually bought? How do they know what they bought is safe for opperation? It looked good because the seller bought a spray can of paint and painted it? Ask one of our poster, Johnytugs, how it is working out for him? He bought an older Timbeland stove, but cannot get a permit to install because his township requires it to be listed, and have an owner's manual. ( his first post I warned him this could happen but he bought it anyway) How many bought a home with and older woodstove, without knowing or even checking the stove or chimney, just fire it up.
    What is it, the general public has brain seizers, when it comes to wood stoves and common sense. There are post today with people smoking out their homes. Want to bet no permit no inspections. god knows actually how safe these installs are? One would think after getting smoked out the first time, better get someone in here that knows what they are doing? I mean when was the last time the chimney was cleanned? Nah! no permits or inspections are required. I might as well be talking to my dog.
  7. Roospike

    Roospike New Member

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    We have some friends that are in there 60's and bought there final home to settle down in . The house is 25 years old and there is a older stove in the house (NON EPA) They clean the pipe every year and burn there wood . Smokes like a dragon but who is the wiser ? How are they to know what is what ? When you bought your last used car did you check to see if the Catalysts on the exhaust were on there ? Did you make sure they were clean and working correct ? How is the smog pump working on your car ? Does it have one? Do we know these questions ? How do we know we need to know ? How many people research EVERYTHING they buy before they buy? If its for sale NEW in a store wouldnt you think it was ok to use ? When you bought tuna in the grocery store did you make sure that no other sea life was harmed in the process of getting that item ? Do you care ? Do you know to care ? Should one research to make sure that it is OK to buy that item ? Its for sale so it should be alright , right ? Eggs are bad for you ........ did you know that ? O'Wait , now there are ok ...........Op , no ......Now there are bad , no sorry i was wrong now there are good for you . Do we all have time to find out and do full research on every item to see if each and every item is ok or not ok ? Willhound Made a good point to say that it is our job to find out , sure it is . Does every body feel this way ?..........No , I'm sure not . There again , how do we know its our job to find out ? Just my thoughts.
  8. markam

    markam New Member

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    Because EPA issued guidelines, not a regulation.
  9. Willhound

    Willhound Feeling the Heat

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    Well, I sort of said it's our job to find out. Buyer beware and all that. But maybe that's just me. I'm a little uptight about trying to research my major purchases to the ultimate degree. Just hate getting ripped off or buying substandard goods. But the major point I was trying to make is that I agree 100% that there should be complete and full disclosure on consumer items (particularly something as potentially dangerous as a wood stove) and that might even include big warning stickers, however, I don't think that's the job of the retailer. All they do is act as the middleman to get the product from manufacturer to market. Yes, they should help wherever possible, but the ultimate responsibility has to lay with the companies that build the things.

    If they don't clean up their act, someone else will eventually do it for them. And that might eventually include not having a market to sell to. So to agree with both Elk and Roo, they need to pull up their socks. Yes, there are good decent manufacturers out there that do not employ fringe marketing tactics and attempt to put out good product, but it is still in their best interest to apply pressure to the others in the market that are playing fast and loose. Otherwise they all get painted with the same brush. Most people hate lawyers (or at least appreciate a good lawyer joke), but the reality is that if you really need one they are worth every penny, and there are a lot of good, decent people in the legal profession, but it's the sleazoids and showboats like the O.J. defence team that give us our bad impressions of the industry.

    One final point.....who do you think has more clout in Washington D.C. or Ottawa Canada....the relatively small industry of woodstove manufacturers and retailers, or the extremely large, rich and powerful utility companies and their shareholders. I'm in the middle of nowhere in northern Canada, and guess what? My natural gas retailer is a subsidiary of Duke Energy. By applying lobby pressure and using the excuses of air pollution and danger to the public they could kill the entire wood burning industry overnight. OK, maybe a little extreme and maybe wouldn't happen, but how many jurisidictions have already banned wood burning appliances ? Lots.


    Willhound
  10. roac

    roac New Member

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    I read some where that EPA exempt stoves are allowed first, because as someone said they are not meant for homes. Second, as Elk complained in another thread, they don't even have door gaskets. This is intentional. These stoves are made to burn fast. They say that the user will have to burn hot thus having reduced emissions because they can't fully control the air flow in to the unit. Plus I think we Americans tend to forget that we don't make the rules for the world. Our neighbors to the north have their own regs. These manufacturers sell on both sides of the border. How are the box stores going to regulate where the device goes? Can the grocery store stop someone from buying alcohol for minors? No, they can only make sure to cover their a__ by carding the buyer. What the buyer does legally or illegally after it leaves the store is the buyers problem!!
  11. saichele

    saichele Minister of Fire

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    There are a lot of places these cheapo stoves are installed that are OK, and many probably aren't any worse than the ones rolling out 100 yrs ago.

    I know a guy that has one in his deer blind, I'm sure people have them in the ice fishing shanties, A number are no doubt installled in garages/workshops. And a few mysteriously find their way into homes. From the manufacturers standpoint, there are legitimate uses for their product, and no one;s going to put a 1200 stove in their deer blind. I'd be surprised if it doesn;t say in the manual that they aren't for residential use, but like everything else, who's going take the time to read the manual?

    People have to take some freakin' responsibility for themselves. If I work on my brakes and screw it up and kill myself, it's my fault. If I install a cheap woodstove and burn my house down, it's my fault. If I clean my gun while it's loaded, it's my fault. It's not the carmaker's fault or the stovemakers fault or the gun maker's fault (or the place that sold the brakes/stove/gun). It's the idiot that didn't know he was in over his head.

    Steve
  12. Roospike

    Roospike New Member

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    So how do people know these are "cheap stoves"? There are a lot of non EPA stoves that are $800 . Thats a lot of money to just go out and spend . So does this mean that people should not drive less expensive cars ? If the car blows up then its there fault because they bought a cheap or less expensive item . Not all of the owners manuals state that they are not made to be placed into a house . I have not seen one . My stove was $2100 . I have seen stoves for $5000 . Should i worry about my stove burning down my house since i got a less expensive stove ? There are all kinds of price ranges on every thing you buy ......... so we should not buy anything in the lower 25% range in fear it will kill us ....... I , myself just dont agree .
  13. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Correct me if I am wrong, but is a building inspector the enforcement agency for the EPA? I don't think it is! As I remember, this is at the manufacturers end. "EPA Compliant" means a lot of things...a coal only heaters is "compliant" as is one that is not airtight - also Cookstoves, central heaters and masonry stoves. We might call them "EPA Exempt", but they are also compliant since they meet the terms of the EPA standards!

    So, a stove can surely be sold that is EPA compliant, but for other reasons than the burning technique. Throw some grates into it, and label it coal only and register it with EPA as "compliant".

    As far as testing, we really have to stop using the word "UL" - The vast majority of stoves, including VC and many others, are NOT tested by UL. There are numerous agencies including Omin Labs, Warnock Hersey, Northwest Labs, etc (and, of couse UL) who will test your stoves if you are a manufacturer. In most modern situations, these tests are preformed INSIDE the manufacturers lab. So forget about UL, except as one of many test labs. Sure, the tests are often called "UL 1482, etc" but a number of the tests are also CSA, ETLM and ANSI, etc. etc. - Gas testing is AGA and others also.

    So, to rephrases, I don't think EPA asks the inspector to check anything about that (correct me if I am wrong) and all that is required is that the stove be "tested and listed to applicable standards", which usually means it has a clear label on it and/or clear install specs in the manual.

    An inspector can avoid a lot of problems by obtaining a manual and cut sheet on the stove before issue of a permit. These will usually state the clearances and listing.

    Again, as I've said before, the same attention should be paid to every exterior door, piece of sheet rock, washer, dryer, furnace, hot water heater, electric wire and all the other tested and listed products. For a stove to be singled out is actually discrimination against one specific trade!
  14. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    There are no labels on the Zolzang box stoves Does this mean it is not labeled and listed? If it is not tested to meet code then what code should apply?. How do I know if minimum NFPA 211 applies to a stove not listed?

    “Again, as I’ve said before, the same attention should be paid to every exterior door, piece of sheet rock, washer, dryer, furnace, hot water heater, electric wire and all the other tested and listed products. For a stove to be singled out is actually discrimination against one specific trade!”

    You brought up a good point Code requires every products to be labeled and listed every 2/4 2/6 2/8 sheet of plywood sheet rock door window even light switches are listed and labeled
    Every appliance is labeled and listed except Volzang stoves? None advertise them to be tested to a standard and not carry that standard listing. No I am not picking on one specific trade but asking them to follow what is required of all other trades and materials governed by code

    Yes outside labs perform test but to UL standards.
    UL is the recognized standard like it or not for wood stoves. You are correct UL does not do all the testing they write the test standard then license labs to test the stoves to that standard. Testing in lab and not getting certified. Is like me saying I got 1400 on my practice LSAT therefore I qualify. Craig you and I know it does not go that way. To achieve a recognized LSAT score I have to take an official test administered and graded by a recognized testing agency.
    You are smart enough to recognize less than full disclosure and deceptive marketing practices. I can't believe you are siding with such obvious marketing deception. If you need me to post the code again concerning labeling testing and listing I will.
    If my town or state passed the 1990 EPA clean air acts then yes as an inspector it would my job to enforce that code or EPA standards. As an inspector enforceable code is written to permit what is labeled listed and tested. The code is very clear what is required. The standard is also clear. Should another standard be written other than the UL that is accepted by code then I can apply that standard as well. But we are not talking about that. These stoves have not officially met any recognized standard not UL or any other. Zolzang admits to not being UL approved. I wonder why?

    Yes I do require the manuals as part of the permitting process. But after what I witnessed the other day. It stick in my gut to think someone is responsible of educating the unsuspecting. Had he applied for a permit I would have been able to prevent that situation from happening in the first place. But I'm one person in one town watching out for the ones who do the right thing and pull a permit
  15. saichele

    saichele Minister of Fire

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    Roo-

    I'd draw a distinction between the EPA listing, which is largely an emissions issue, and the UL listing, which is a safety issue. But in either case-

    I think whether the stove is 100 or 1000, the buyer still has some obligation to know what it is they're buying, and maybe even read the manual. If they make a decision that it's worth the risk to save 500 or 1000 on a stove, it's their call. Same way people decide to buy a 10 yr old ford instead of a new volvo, potentially risking their own lives, or try to get one more winter out of worn tires, risking their lives and others, or any number of other similar decisions we make every day that weigh long-term risk against short term reward.

    There are legitimate applications for less expensive, lower-quality goods. I have cheap tires on my old car because it probably won't go another 20K miles. If someone wants a woodstove in their wood shop, ice shack, or deer blind, the $150 vogelzang is probably the way to go.

    Now if the shop/mail order place told the guy he could install a vogelzang in his house, that's like the car dealer telling you the car's got airbags but it doesn't. Should be just plain illegal. If the guy just walked in and bought the thing, as I might do, it's not the shop's problem what he does with it. Maybe he wants to set it up outside to make maple syrup? If a contractor installed the thing, their license should probably be suspended or at least fined.

    If you get busted for speeding, it's not the car dealer or manufacturer's fault. It's your fault. If you lose a finger using your lawn mower to trim the shrubs, it's not Toro's fault. If you buy the stove that should be in the shed and put it in your living room (with a dubious installation as an added bonus) it's your fault.

    Steve
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