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Kaplan ITA's Monthly Inspection Tips - Free Electronic Newsletter

January, 2005
Solid Fuel Room Heaters
Issue #33

Dear Inspector,

Since we are definitely into the heating season now, this month I would like to discuss solid fuel room heaters.

Many of us see wood stoves installed in homes we inspect. To be frank, I think I have probably only seen one or two correctly installed out of hundreds observed. Most often I see old "yard sale" type unlisted (not lab tested or labeled) stoves installed very close to the interior walls of a dwelling. This month I want to review, briefly, the minimum requirements for unlisted (no factory label on the stove depicting proper installation and diagrams) wood stoves (not inserts). Personally I think any unlisted stoves should be taken from yard sales and such and melted down for other, safer, uses.

Stoves should be at least 36-inches from any combustible wall. This includes drywall or plaster over wood framing. This also includes walls where a veneer has been simply glued onto the drywall or plaster over wood framing. Any clearance reductions require an approved clearance reduction system which always allows air flow between the clearance barrier and the combustible wall (see diagram).

The floor under a wood stove requires noncombustible material to 18-inches around all sides of the stove. Typically, a metal pan is also required under the unlisted stove, check with your local building department.

Single wall "stove pipe" required 18-inches clearances to any combustible materials and requires an approved thimble where it passes through a wall or ceiling.

I also advise my clients to consider a child safety barrier around the stove. Many of us who grew up with old solid fuel devices in their homes have a scar or two to remember them by.

Talk next month,

Michael Casey
Kaplan Professional Schools

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