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Is Your Wood Burning Appliance Certified?

Erich Kelter - Thursday, July 11, 2013

A common source of confusion for homeowners regarding WETT inspections is whether their appliance is a certified or uncertified unit. Many clients assume (see our previous article) that the WETT inspector will “certify” their appliance. Not true.

Wood burning appliances fall into two distinct categories. Uncertified appliances are typically older units that pre-date appliance certification and newer installation codes, or units manufactured by a small fabrication or manufacturing company. Certified appliances are typically newer units built by larger companies that have had their products lab tested by one of the few capable firms that actually certify wood burning appliances, i.e. CSA, ULC, OTL or Warnock-Hersey.

What’s the difference? While the function of the wood burning appliances may not differ greatly from a certified to an uncertified appliance, the installation of said units can vary tremendously. Certified appliances are lab tested in order to test, determine and validate safe and acceptable installation practices. Therefore, the clearance to combustible materials for a certified appliance is much smaller than that required for an uncertified appliance. This makes installation much easier to deal with in many cases, especially where space is at a premium. Uncertified units do not get any testing performed on them, so the window for spacing of the unit to combustible materials is much greater due to the unknown heat radiating characteristics among many other things that would get checked on a certified unit.

If you are purchasing a home equipped with a wood burning device, it is very important to have a WETT inspection performed to determine whether the unit is installed correctly and is safe to use. Over the last several years we have inspected many units which were completely unsafe to use. On one such visit we found an uncertified appliance located within 4 inches of an unshielded combustible wall. Luckily this unit had just been installed by a DIY homeowner, and his wife insisted on having a WETT inspection performed prior to lighting the first fire! Needless to say the husband was upset with our recommendation of moving the stove out further away from the wall (44 inches to be exact), but his wife was happy to know that moving forward they would be using the stove in the safest manner possible once corrections were made.

Above Grade Home Inspections Inc. performs WETT inspections across Simcoe County on all types of wood burning appliances.

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