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What to expect when permitting and inspection a solid fuel burning appliance

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by elkimmeg, Dec 28, 2005.

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  1. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Actually the permitting and review process is just as important as the actual inspection. It is here, that I have the most questions and advice before things get done incorrectly. I make you aware I will be reviewing the manufacture specs on the stove and liner. I tell you the cross-sectional code and how it applies to your situation. If your stove needs 18” in front of the loading door that’s what I expect to find. If your liner requires insulation per manufactures specs, I expect to confirm that during the inspection. Better than 90% of installations pass when an appointment is made and your installation is discussed in full. Makes my job so much easier. But these are ideal situations. I also require a full inspection report on chimneys over 10 years old and cleaning report I also request a copy of the contract to determine what is being installed.

    What usually happens is, the permit is pulled after the installation is done? Usually pulled outside my office hours by the homeowner who is clueless as to the process. Most of the time the application is partially filled out, as he or she cannot answer the questions. Incomplete documentation, no specs on the liner, model or even brand. I believe the store,that subcontracts out the install should be obtaining the permit. Every manual states permitting and code compliance. They have to by law. There is no excuse from the storeowner or licensed installer, of not knowing the requirements. Have they not read page one of the manual of the product they are selling?. The Store or subcontractor is the one most qualified to know the product they install, so therefore know what is required to fill out an application. You the homeowner, do you know the installers license number? Do you know his liability insurance and workman’s comp carriers? Then why do you leave this responsibility up to the homeowner? Lazy can’t take the time could care less
    Hopefully the workmanship and product support does not follow this same attitude.

    It is the inspections that have already been installed; I have the most problems with. One, fire place inserts, I require the surround to be removed prior to inspection,, so I can see the critical connection point the flue collar and vent. I also can see the damper block off.

    I have a few tool to assist me. Powerful flash light, telescoping dental mirror, ruler and a bore scope. The bore scope allows me to slide it up into the chimney cavity by the damper plate, to examine the existing flues and the liner. I cannot tell the many surprises this tool has uncovered. Like incomplete liners, disconnected joints, incomplete insulation of the liner, damaged liners gaping holes in the liners. Clay tiles cracked, and cresote build up just to name a few things I have discovered. Every time the installer questions how I know or how I uncovered my findings. Because of this diligence, every regular installer knows little gets by my inspections. They now all know I have the bore scope and mirrors. Once they had to do recall work a few times, they have learned it is easier to do it right the first time. Most homeowners have also taken my advice to hold final payment till the installation passes inspections. I have been there with both the installers and homeowners telling things are ok and to pay the installers. Usually they get paid immediately and all walk out mission accomplished.

    It has taken a while to work the bugs out. I am in constant communication with the local retailers and installers. A mutual trust has formed. They know where I am coming from and the same respect from me. The playing field has been leveled, everybody is on the same page. The system works rather well. They have blank applications and do not have to run to my office for conferences every stove installation. I get complete documentation faxed in. It works as a two way street. Many times I am asked to recommend installers or retailers. Naturally I can’t select one. I must include as many as I can. I give the homeowner a list of licensed installers, but what I can do is place the order where they appear on the list. Most homeowner will call the first 3 names at the top of the list. In a way, I get them more work and the store more sales. I am a firm believer that good work has rewards, as does good service. No I do not tell them how I order the list. Finally I address the measurements to combustibles and if required the heath pad or extension. No, Inspectors do not carry ladders. They are not required to climb your roof.
    The towns do not insure for that use nor, do they expect inspectors to be on your roof
    If I suspect something out of wack, Time to reach in the truck for the bino’s

    Part of requesting complete documentation is required but a service when one sells their home. Yeah 233 West street has a Quadra fire 4100i insert with a full insulated Homesaver liner Ul 103 approved with a certificate of inspections. Do you need a copy?

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  2. joshuaviktor

    joshuaviktor New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2005
    Messages:
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    Loc:
    Northwest New Jersey
    Elk,

    Mind if I ask a few questions?

    Ok, here goes.

    1. Why do you inspect? Not a facetious question. Is an inspection required by municipal ordinance, statute, homeowners insurance company? Is this because most installs require structural work, and therefore a building permit of some kind?

    2. Something I have been wondering. With a fireplace insert, is it ok to put a Tee and cleanout in. I mean, you can't get at it easily, but I think it just makes more sense to put one in so at least once in a while, you can scrub hell out of your chimney.

    3. Finally, back to inspection and insurance. I have 6 fireplaces in my house, dating back some 270 years. My father in law said he can use one of them, and really help heat the house. I flatly refused to let him build a fire, and actually got in an argument with him about it. A fire big enough to generate enough heat to make a difference in an open fireplace, I told him, is too big for an untested 270 year old fireplace. It would be big enough to pose an actual danger to the house, and our homeowners insurance would laugh at us if the house burned down.

    Was I right?
  3. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    I am a national certified (BOCA) local building inspector. Meaning any town, state, city, that recognizes the National Building Codes (formerly BOAC now the International Building Codes), I qualify to be hired. I my town I am a local building Inspector and Mechanical inspector In the state of MA,I qualify to be a Mechanical inspector as well as a building inspector. I an qualified and certified to be hired by any town in Ma., to both building and mechanical inspections capacities. No, I am not an insurance inspector.

    Your second question about the tee: It makes sense to me, the advantages of a tee for easier cleaning.

    Third question using an old fireplace: Since it is existing it is insured with the home and can be used. Should it be used or is it safe for use is the question. 270 years old probably not lined, in all probability powering mortar joints. I agree with you. A mason should inspect the chimney or licensed qualified chimney sweep, that it safe to be used. Too many bad things can happen if that chimney is unfit and operating with a roaring fire. Just because it there and can be used, does not mean if is safe to use. Actually a roaring fire will do little to heat only felt in the immediate area but actually suck a lot more heat from the house then returned
  4. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Messages:
    12,126
    Loc:
    Western Mass.
    Elk lives near where the Pilgrims settled. The first chimneys there were made of wood and mud!

    The more air the is sucked up with a fire, the safer (and cooler) the chimney is.

    Yes, but a 270 year old chimney if bound to have poor mortar, porous bricks and other such problems. That means smoke and cresote soak in and make the whole house stink for decades!

    A lot of money to reline, BUT when looked at as first major repair after 270 years is cheap!
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