Is that system installed correctly?

Is your wood burning system installed correctly?

Well it has worked for 25 years with no problem you say!!

Well that is not what I actually asked, is it to code?   Well it has been installed for 25 years you say again!!

Well there are many systems which were homeowner installed and simply not done right!  Often times used with no problems until a code inspection is required by their insurance company.  Yes a WETT inspection is a code inspection.

What are common problems?

Well one is the stove being too close to the wall.   Often a heat shield will remedy the problem and make the system code compliant for that problem.  Many times the data plate on rear shows clearances, and if a certified appliance it always will.  It is surprising how many times the homeowner will ask if something has changed making this necessary, however simply showing them a photograph of the data plate which is on the stove and which has been there since the stove was manufactured will clarify that it simply was not installed properly.

Another which is a bit more tricky is a corner install where the stove was never certified for a corner install.  I had one in Tiny Township installed by the manufacturer themselves, which was corner installed and not certified.  I called the manufacturer, a local one, who said they had spoken with the certification lab and received measurements (which were apparently the same as the rear distance).  The problem was that even this clearance was not met in the installation!!  An interesting problem for the customer.

Yet another is the lack of adequate ember pad in the front of wood stove.  Which can often be fixed, although not without some additional cost.

Or if a fireplace insert the hearth extension is almost never adequate.. and even some older fireplaces do not meet hearth extension requirements.

Ceiling height may be another, and may be because of a raised floor area, angled ceiling at wall or simply a low ceiling.  It is fairly safe to say if you have an 8 foot ceiling over the entire stove you are okay with height above stove – and a 7 foot ceiling for certified stoves.  ( assuming of course ceiling is flat to wall in all directions)

However above ceiling height, being okay for stove, may not have clearances for stove pipes!   Especially if single wall pipe, but also I have seen double wall which were too close to the wall in some cases.

Another one is chimneys in second floor which are not enclosed, chimneys not adequate height above roof surface or chimney clearances to combustibles.

Fireplaces can have damper problems, as mentioned hearth extension problems, clearances to combustible mantle or trim, refractory bricks, chimney tiles, etc.

Stove pipes are often missing fasteners at joints, may be installed upside down, have too many elbows or be too long a run for single wall pipe.    Stove pipes may be rusted and have even holes through them (obvious by tiny rust spots generally).

Stoves may be missing firebricks completely.

Flashing may be incorrectly installed, missing storm collar or have missing or bad caulking.

The list is long and Interestingly every one of the items listed have been found in stoves or fireplaces in the Midland, Orillia and Wasaga Beach area!!

Worse.  Many of these have been found where a WETT Inspection had been done already and I was there to perform a cleaning!

The missing fasteners, missing firebricks and holes in stove pipe was an Orillia cleaning – Home Inspector had inspected stove and stated it was okay.

A defective flue pipe which would not seal and allowed smoke to enter premise was a call from Penetanguishene resident – home had been inspected by Home Inspector and found to be okay.

A system with a totally outdated and unacceptable chimney was in Port McNicoll – I did not clean and did not charge customer.  Home Inspector had said it was fine but needed cleaning.  Was an old factory built fireplace with galvanized chimney system.

One in Thunder Beach which Home Inspector had said chimney needed some masonry work – but was only maintenance – was correct on that part but entire fireplace needed work – damper was broken and smoke chamber had serious work needed as well (camera pointed out defects to customer).

Several across Tiny, Tay, Orillia, Muskoka — chimney is too short and does not meet code.  This can sometimes be an easy fix with an added section, other times much more work.

Get peace of mind – have your system performed by somebody who can do a Level 2 inspection and will clean at same time if needed.  ( a level 2 inspection will always include a chimney camera as part of the job )

Author: Chimney Sweep

WETT Certified Advanced Chimney Sweep - Loving It Every Day