Thursday, February 20, 2014

Wood Stoves and WETT requirements

A real estate agent called me up and asked about wood burning fireplaces and the related WETT requirements in a condo...

WETT is the Wood Energy Technology Transfer organization that provides training for inspections.

In a nutshell, here is the skinny (are two clich├ęs acceptable?)...
  • Wood Stoves - Insurance companies want them WETT Inspected.  A Level I inspection, which is a "Readily Accessible" inspection) will suffice (WETT Inspection Levels chart).
  • Wood Fireplaces - Insurance companies (at this writing) do not require inspections.  HOWEVER - the Ontario Fire Code requires that every chimney be inspected annually
Now for three stories about this....

This particular condo had manufactured wood fireplaces with shared flues.  This is no longer allowed and annual inspections should be set up by the condo corporation.  There may be a capital cost and associated cost outlay to the condo owners if improvements or repairs are needed.

I inspected a house a few years ago that had a stainless steel chimney attached to the wood stove.  The chimney had 1" insulated walls, and the insurance company would not provide coverage unless the chimney was replaced so it was stainless steel with 2" thick insulated walls.  $2000 - ouch!  The owner ended up just removing the wood stove and chimney - it was cheaper.

Condo owners in a particular condo complex with manufactured wood fireplaces were required to have annual inspections done on their flues by the local fire department after a fire in a unit.  So inspection doors were installed in walls and the condo owners bore the cost of inspections. 

A good home inspector looks for signs of previous inspection (access doors) and advise potential buyers of the various scenarios.  You don't want to be blindsided by these costs.

And the bottom line is....
  • Know that a wood stove will need to be WETT inspected (by your insurance company), and
  • All chimneys should be inspected annually (as per Ontario Fire Code)