What one should consider before purchasing a used wood stove.

elkimmeg Posted By elkimmeg, Jul 30, 2006 at 12:19 PM

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  1. elkimmeg

    Guest 2.

    What one should consider before purchasing a used wood stove. If you have not already read my Primer for purchasing a new stove , then please do so. It deals with your existing chimney and things you should consider before any stove purchase

    Quick update in wood stove history and innovations. In the late 60’s to late 70’s most stoves that were built did not have a regulated or tested. Meaning no UL approvals till about 1980. Era approved stoves apply to all stoves manufactured after 1990. EPA certification was to regulate pollution and efficiency. Every EPA stove had to meet 63% efficiency. Those 70’s stoves were un-regularated and many could not obtain even 20% efficiency under best conditions, even brand new. In anticipation of complying to the upcoming EPA certification, the late 80 stoves became more efficient
    This information becomes critical to avoiding purchasing a used wood stove that cannot be legally installed.

    No permits for installation can be given for stoves without UL listing. In many states only approved EPA stoves can be installed. To find out what is required call your inspections dept. All woodstove installations require permitting. And many insurance companies require ULLlisting and a certificate of inspections from you local inspections office. In MA carbon monoxide detectors are also required as part of the installation.

    With that said all 70’s and earlier stoves have been eliminated. Probably for good reason, they are inefficient and more than 30 years old. Many companies went out of business, as they did not comply with the Epa standards. In USA, a five year parts support policy exist after that line of production ends, There are no parts available for stoves that old. These stoves probably need a complete rebuild again 30 years old factors in. The rebuild could cost more that the bargain you just bought.
    There are cast iron box stoves that are not UL listed they cannot be installed in habitable living spaces. Some have deceiving claims tested to UL standards but do not carry the UL label

    So what to look for? What questions one should ask and tell tale signs of abused stoves?
    How was the stove used? How old is it? Do you have the manual? When was the last maintenance done, and what was done. If a cat stove, when was the cat replaced? Why are you selling? Ask if the stove has been over fired?

    Target brand name stoves, where the manufacture is still in business. Confirm that the stove is UL labeled. Look for the testing agency and EPA certification. All stoves should have an attached label.

    What to look for
    Remember heat can change the properties of metal. One has to look for metal fatigue. First tell tale sign: look around the stove If you see a whitish color half way up the stove on the sides or back that is an indication of metal fatigue. Rust is another sign of metal fatigue. There is a difference between light surface rust and flaking scale type. Take particular notice if heavy rust or scale like rust exist Open up the doors look around are the fire brick cracked or crumbling? A few small hair line cracks are normal, large cracks or bricks powder zing are signs of abuse from over firing Look at the metal, is there warp age or cracks? More sign of abuse from over firing. Over firing accelerates metal fatigue. IF you see any of the above evidence of metal fatigue or over firing, there is no need for further examination. It all looks; ok I would use the light bulb test. I would place a 150-watt light bulb in the firebox and close the door. Walk around the stove looking at all seams, gaskets, and look for light leaks, the light also can highlight a crack you may previously missed Look under the stove in back. If you see light coming out the seams, that’s an indication of needing a total re- build. Light around gaskets means new gasketing is required..(The least expensive fix) With the light removed, employ the dollar bill test. Meaning place a dollar bill between the gasketed closed doors If you can pull it out easily without resistance the gaskets are gone you have to move the dollar bill around the entire door not just one location

    At this point if all checks out, you have done your best to determine if you have found a decent wood stove.. Another consideration is to size the stove to the area you are trying to heat. Hopefully you have read my other recent post considering locations and venting issues. (Primers to Newbies) If you are hiring a qualified installer, request that he inspect the stove before installation Your life could depend on it. Finally if all goes well you local inspector will approve you stove and installation... One final note about miss information
    According to NFPA 211 Chapert 9 Solid Fuel-Burning Appliances
    9-2.4 Solid fuel-burning appliances shall not be installed in any residential garage
    I hope I have helped many purchasers from make a costly or potentially deadly mistake.
    My qualifications:, National Certified BOCA Local Building Inspector and Mechanical Inspector. and 30 years of wood burning experience
  2. ourhouse

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Feb 16, 2006
    Norfolk Ma
    Those are the reasons why I bought a brand new one. I looked at a lot of junk.
  3. Roospike

    New Member 2.

    Nov 19, 2005
    Eastern Nebraska
    Yes , a lot of junk . There are a lot of really funny looking stoves out there , i mean down right UGLY ,let along are not worth a chit . There was a stove co here in the mid west that took the ends off of a big LP tank and made wood stoves from them , they were 1/4 thick steel but not worth the install to get any real value out of them and boy they were UGLY .
  4. elkimmeg

    Guest 2.

    Craig has wiki this post

    After I posted my primer the dealers added post of their perspectives My my intent, was to get potential new owners to think
    about their current situation prior to visiting the retailers. Make the retailer’s job easier, when the customer know what he has to begin with.
    Maybe too much code info to begin with but at some point it has to be dealt with. It is better to know a full liner is required by code then
    for me to fail a direct connect installation due to cross- sectional code violations. It is unfortunate but not all retail sales reps are code savvy
    for that matter neither are all building inspectors.. Not the best formula to start out with. Two wrongs does not always make a right.
    If anything the intent is to educate the consumer and get the thought process going

    As I stated first, it was a start to be refined. nothing is etched in soap stone or cast in iron.
  5. hearthtools

    Moderator Emeritus 2.

    Jan 6, 2006
    Oakhurst, California, USA, Earth
    another reason for not buying a used stove

    Im most of California, AND FOR A FACT CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
    5.0 Requirements
    5.1 Sale of Wood Burning Heaters
    5.1.1 No person shall sell, offer for sale, supply, install, or transfer a new wood
    burning heater unless it is EPA Phase II Certified, or is a pellet-fueled
    wood burning heater.

    5.1.2 No person shall advertise, sell, offer for sale, supply, install, or transfer a
    used wood burning heater unless it has been rendered permanently
    inoperable, or is EPA Phase II Certified, or is a pellet-fueled wood
    burning heater.
    5.1.3 Retailers selling or offering for sale new wood burning heaters shall supply
    public awareness information with each sale of a wood burning heater in
    the form of pamphlets, brochures, or fact sheets on the following topics
    listed in sections through Public awareness information
    shall be subject to the review and approval of the APCO.

    and when you sell your home:

    5.2 Sale or Transfer of Real Property
    Beginning January 1, 2004,
    5.2.1 No person shall sell or transfer any real property which contains a wood
    burning heater without first assuring that each wood burning heater
    included in the real property is EPA Phase II Certified, a pellet fueled
    wood burning heater, permanently rendered inoperable, or removed.

    5.2.2 Upon the sale or transfer of real property, the seller shall provide to the
    recipient of the real property, and to the APCO, documentation of
    compliance with section 5.2.1 of this rule. Documentation shall be in the
    form of a statement signed by the seller describing the type(s) of wood
    burning heater(s) included in the real property transaction, and any action
    taken to comply with section 5.2.1. The APCO shall make blank forms
    available to the public for the purpose of fulfilling this requirement.
    5.2.3 Documents required by section 5.2.2 shall be retained by the recipient of
    the real property and shall be made available to the APCO upon request.

    What they want to see is the words on the EPA label

    Certified to comply with July 1990 particulate emission standards.
  6. elkimmeg

    Guest 2.

    Rod I am trying to get the state of Ma to at least adopt EPA certified stoves. The Ownership transfere is for another time. Sometimes it takes baby steps first. I am all for it. As it stands in Ma other than being listed and labled, a UL requirement started in 1979, it can be installed.. If I inspect it and see it deffecient I can have it removed. You can buy used junk on Ebay, Local want advertiser Mag, Craig's list, and local classifieds. Nothing worst to inspect a stove after it is installed and proclaim it a piece of junk and condem it.
    Since the majority of USA never adopted the 1990 EPA regs, used crap is sold and installed everyday. Many times without any knowledge of safety, codes, or permits. Like I have said before, I do the first inspection hoping I do not have to make the second one, after an very unpleasent incident has occured.

    I keep in constant contact with the retailers and installers, so none have an unpleasent experience. They already know, when I will condemn a used stove they, were asked to install. Most refuse.
    They also know I have a list of installers that have done prior work in my town. The law requires me to include all licenced installers.
    What I do, is order the list. The first 3 names will get 90% of most calls. Im' doing my job finding them work or sales. IT is a lot easier when its a two way street and everbody is on the same page.
  7. hearthtools

    Moderator Emeritus 2.

    Jan 6, 2006
    Oakhurst, California, USA, Earth
    As you know I have been on the Pacific HPBA board for many years and work with the airboard on this kind of stuff.
    If you want some help you can get some Data and info from our Government Affairs. A great team of Paid and unpaid people that work with Government on making things happen and protecting our rights as wood burners and help promote CLEAN BURNING.

    John Crouch is the man!
    Director of Public Affairs
    916/ 536-2390

    but you might want to contact
    Tom Stroud
    Senior Manager, Codes & Standards
    (503) 292-6187

    You could discurage installing old wood stove by going by the 97' Mechanical code that calls for 48" clearance from combustables if your stove is not listed 36" if you have a NFPA211 wall. That is what our county did before the new EPA II requirments.
  8. RoosterBoy

    New Member 2.

    Jul 5, 2006
    from what i here on this forum from stove stores getting sued over chimney cap id be afraid to sell a used stove to someone ;-) i just might get sued :) it's a amazeing what this world is coming too :)

  9. elkimmeg

    Guest 2.

    Rooster boy and Rob I got my hands an a few used sttove in my rounds. Most was the early 90's taken out for the pellet stove craze last year. I was offered them I inspected them to see if they were worth a little work to be put back in service.
    Of the 4 I keep the worst VC Intrepid II cat which I took apart and rebuilt for my own use the one it replaced ended up going to a needy familly in NJ the 3 others I cleanned up gasketed inspected them throughly and also gave them away to people that could not afford new.. One stipulation, I did not give them to any in my town. Can't inspect something I worked on.
    I know I took a legal risk, I could be sued, but I helped 4 famillies with their heating bills last year. It cost me no more that $50. I like the challange and did not mind the work involved. I get to know the ins and outs of how VC products were made. first hand.

    It is possible to get a decent used wood stove I know I have I have 1999 Encore sitting in my garage that will be brought up to like new specs I paid $500 not a chip on the enamal only used 2 heating seasons All refactory joints are good Even the cat is good enough it does not need replacement. I am going to rebuild the glass doors complete re gasketing the door and glass essembly gridle top gasketing then my air pressuer test. or I might try a smoke bomb test. It will replace my 3 year old Resolute Acclaim which will be totally cleaned and reconded like new This time I'm going to sell it to offset the cost I have into The Encore.

    Why would I do all this work. The encore burns clener and longer holds a larger log and slightly larger fire box. Plus with an interior chimney and separate 8/8 flue. That setup was born to have a cat stove attached to it. I almost forgot 18% more heating capacity.
    Rod plenty open space here for the size and we have about 10 days below 0. That 18% means, the furnace not comming on as frequent when it is 10 or below outside.. The Resolute was good to that temp. If I could fit a defaint I would. I am very limited to what will match with a rear flue collar exit, threw 16" of granite field stone.. I have to matchup my existing outlet in the stove
  10. seaken

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Nov 21, 2005
    Shokan, NY
    Speaking from the perspective of one who sells used wood stoves - I agree with most of what Don has said here. It is important to know what you are buying and carefully decide in favor of a stove that will satisfy local codes and safety considerations. I would like to mention that some manufacturers continue to provide parts for pre-EPA stoves for the purpose of maintenance and repair. Also, not all communities take the California stand about the exchange of used non-EPA stoves. There may come a time when my state outlaws used stoves. But for now it is legal.

    However, it is not always practical or desireable. Don's comments about efficiency and the improvements in stoves since EPA regs should be well received. Stoves prior to EPA regulation were much harder to operate in an efficient manner. Unless the user understands the combustion process fairly well he/she will most likley get poor results. The newer technology helps create better circumstances for imporved combustion efficiency and ultimately better air quality.

    We were just talking about the value of used stoves yesterday in our shop. Due to the relatively low cost of new clean-burning stoves, such as the Dutchwest or Drolet lines, it is hard to justify the resale of a used stove that is non-EPA compliant. The cost to refurbish and resell a used Vigilant, for example, is too high to be practical for our stove shop. I must get about $750-$800 for a refurbished Vigilant. We sell a Dutchwest non-cat cast for around $1400 (similar in size to the Vigilant) but it has a six inch flue outlet. The savings in the chimney system will more than make up the difference. And the Dutchwest will be far more efficient in combustion. No creosote when operated properly. That cannot be achieved with the Vigilant. It just doesn't make sense to invest in the old technology in most cases. Sometimes a person has a good chimney system and an existing stove that needs replacement. In that case it will save them money initially to buy a good refurbished stove. But in the long run it would be better to invest in new technology. Sometimes a person simply cannot afford it. They may decide to purchase a used stove privately and clean it up themselves for around $400. I sympathize with those folks who cannot afford to spend more to get better technology. It is difficult to make it economically feasable to buy a good refurbished used stove. I will sell a refurbished Encore Catalytic (EPA-era) for about $1000. That's a good savings for someone who can afford a new stove but it is alot for someone who struggles to come up with $400.

    We will be discontinuing the rebuilding and reselling of all non-EPA stoves as of this year. It breaks my heart because I know these can be good stoves in the hands of a good operator. But it does not make economic sense and we have to be careful so that we can continue to stay in business. We will encourage people to consider saving up for a Dutchwest or Drolet (some models are under $800, but likely smaller than they want or need) or some similar low-cost new technology stove. Or wait for a refurbished Encore or Acclaim.

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