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Return air next to wood stove.


Brandon Whitmore
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Do any of you have any concerns with this installation? I know that you can't have a primary return air within 10' of a fireplace, but they have installed a wood stove insert, so I'm trying to figure out whether any building code rules apply to prohibit this installation.

The original fireplace is a Heatilator style (metal firebox). The insert is not properly installed in that it is just jammed into the firebox. There is no pipe attached up to the throat, etc. Also, there are not adequate clearances at the hearth extension.

My concern is that at some point, someone will remove the wood stove and start using the fireplace again-- the return air would no longer be allowed.

Also, since there is no stovepipe attached, my concern is that the return air could pull some CO, etc. into the home.

To make matters worse, the B vent shares the same flue as the wood stove.

I'm just curious what you guy's would say about this installation.

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Mike/ Jim-- thanks for replying.

We shouldn't try to report on what someone might try to do in the future. If the woodstove insert installation is wrong, tell your clients:

1) What you saw during the inspection.

2) What it means, and

3) What they should do about it.

I agree that I shouldn't try to predict the future. I just want to tread carefully when it comes to so many safety issues/ potential issues. Is a wood stove insert considered a permanent component, or by code is this still a fireplace, especially when just venting into the firebox?

Heck, I'm probably just over- thinking all of this.

The report has already been sent out. I basically wrote up the fact that the wood stove was done wrong, the return air duct is close to the woodstove/ fireplace which is a potential issue, and that the B vent for the furnace was not allowed to share the wood burning unit's flue. I told them to hire a chimney sweep professional to do a level 2 inspection and figure out the mess.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Do any of you have any concerns with this installation? I know that you can't have a primary return air within 10' of a fireplace, but they have installed a wood stove insert, so I'm trying to figure out whether any building code rules apply to prohibit this installation.

The original fireplace is a Heatilator style (metal firebox). The insert is not properly installed in that it is just jammed into the firebox. There is no pipe attached up to the throat, etc. Also, there are not adequate clearances at the hearth extension.

My concern is that at some point, someone will remove the wood stove and start using the fireplace again-- the return air would no longer be allowed.

Also, since there is no stovepipe attached, my concern is that the return air could pull some CO, etc. into the home.

To make matters worse, the B vent shares the same flue as the wood stove.

I'm just curious what you guy's would say about this installation.

Funny.. I saw a very similar install as you describe on Tuesday. The home owner closed off the main level central return (stuck a piece of drywall behind the return) and opened a hole in the basement finished wall to make the only return for the oil fired furnace in the basement right behind a wood burning stove. I called it out since the only return air is adjacent to combustion of another appliance.

The wood stove and oil fired furnace also shared a single flue chimney.

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