Homemade Wood Stoves

By
Home Inspector with King of the House Home Inspection, Inc

While I guess I should give the builders credit for trying, one thing that always makes me cringe at a home inspection is when I find a homemade wood stove or fireplace insert. To begin with, in this day of air pollution worries, such a stove which has no engineering or research done on it at all is not likely to be efficient. Will it be safe? What are the safe clearances to flammables? That is hard to impossible to figure as well.

More often than not these homemade stoves or inserts consist of steel welded together by a hobbyist. Sometimes the design or modifications, to remedy unexpected problems, are down right frightening. In the photo below the builder decided that the unit was not receiving adequate combustion air. He put a blower outside under the soffit. A wall switch turns on a fan that blows air back through this ABS pipe (photos) to the inside of the stove.

You read that right --the pipe that is connected to the hot metal at the front of the stove is plastic ABS pipe, such as is used for drains and vents in plumbing. When an inspector sees this sort of thing, strong language must go in the report. An inspector should state that it is a non-conforming device, a safety issue and recommend a complete evaluation of the entire system, including the stove, combustion air, chimney, etc. This should be done before anyone uses the device and this evaluation must be performed by a licensed professional, such as a certified chimney sweep.

Raging fires and carbon monoxide are two issues a home inspector does not wish to, after the fact, be liable for. The builder might have confidence in his concoction but the inspector does not.

 

Steven L. Smith

Bellingham WA Home Inspections

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wood burning

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Ambassador
1,067,618
Charles Buell
Seattle Home Inspector
Charles Buell Inspections Inc.

Steve, I just LOVE the smell of melting ABS pipe.  Don't you?  Sometimes people try to save money in all the "expensive" ways.

August 25, 2008 02:39 PM
Rainmaker
1,177,602
Steven L. Smith
Bellingham WA Home Inspector
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc

Melting pipes and burning rugs are pretty appealing.

August 25, 2008 02:41 PM
Ambassador
1,138,875
Paul Henderson
I always put my clients first in any transaction!
RE/MAX Professionals.

Steve, Just think how many of those setups we see and you never get to inspect. I figure if their proud of that handy work just think what the fuse box and wiring look like...

August 25, 2008 02:58 PM
Rainmaker
1,177,602
Steven L. Smith
Bellingham WA Home Inspector
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc

Paul,

I try to get a look at that stuff too but, as you say, sometimes you wonder what is there, but you can't see it.

August 25, 2008 03:02 PM
Rainmaker
531,757
Liz Moras
Chilliwack Realtor, Garrison Crossing,Chilliwack, Abbotsford
Harrison Hot Springs, Cultus Lake

the Music Man Inspector..........woodstoves often seem so ummm romantically ambiant........but a serious checking them out is always in good order

August 25, 2008 04:46 PM
Rainmaker
1,177,602
Steven L. Smith
Bellingham WA Home Inspector
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc

Liz,

That is correct. They have their good points, but one needs to be sure they are safe.

August 25, 2008 05:13 PM
Rainer
406,157
Sean Allen
International Financing Solutions
International Financing Solutions

Wow, I would NEVER think to try and build something like that myself..... how stupid!!

Sean Allen

August 25, 2008 09:42 PM
Rainmaker
1,177,602
Steven L. Smith
Bellingham WA Home Inspector
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc

Sean,

 

It would probably be better for all parties involved if more people thought like you do.

August 25, 2008 11:33 PM
Ambassador
1,452,674
Michael Thornton
Home Inspector - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.0297
Complete Home Inspections, Inc.

Thankfully, I do not see too many wood burning stoves here in this area. I don't think that I have ever seen a home made job in my life...

August 26, 2008 04:39 AM
Rainmaker
1,177,602
Steven L. Smith
Bellingham WA Home Inspector
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc

Michael,

Lucky for you other than, really, they do not take much time. Always have problems.

August 26, 2008 09:35 AM
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Rainmaker
1,177,602

Steven L. Smith

Bellingham WA Home Inspector
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