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Gas Fireplace Exhaust Too Close to Gas Meter


ryanp
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I just received a call from the selling agent. I had written-up a gas fireplace for the blower fan not operating. A company that that installs fireplaces in our area came-out and inspected the unit and additionally found that the fireplace exhaust is 2 inches too close to the main gas meter on the exterior of the house. The client wanted this confirmed and the utility company came-out and verbally confirmed what the fireplace evaluator had said. Still 2 inches too close. The individual from the utility company said it's too close, but he wouldn't move the exhaust of the main meter. The client wanted this in writing, but the utility company does not put these things in writing. They said this would fall on the home inspector. I guess I am just looking for some guidance.

Yes I missed this violation, but I'm apprehensive about saying it's okay when it clearly isn't. I think what they are wanting me to say is that the utility company came-out and inspected it, but recommended it be left in its present state. I, however, am not the utility company. I've only been doing inspections for a year and I would really appreciate any advice. Thanks in advance.

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Ryan,

I may have noticed the exhaust being too close to meter - maybe, maybe not. If an inspector working for me did not notice it, I would have been a little perturbed.

How close does the mfg of the fireplace say it can be to the gas meter? I really don't know where to quickly find that info. The utility company can say or do what ever they want, however I suspect the meter was in place before the fireplace flue was installed, so who is to blame?

I guess what I am telling you is that if it is wrong, just bite your tongue and admit you did not measure it. In my opinion you did NOT do anything really wrong and I would not advise you to write anything. Moving the meter is no huge deal. I would not think extending vent is suitable or kosher.

Usually you notice things like this just walking around the house (flue pipes of all types too close to windows, doors, too close to grade, meters etc.) The issue is on the table because you reported something. The goal was to know the conditions at the house and you got your client to that point. Don't beat yourself up!

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Ryan, it appears everybody else is offering their opinion on what the proper clearances are they're passing the buck. You have three sources to find the information you need to know what is actually correct.

1) Codes -check IRC and all applicable building codes adopted in that jurisdiction and find cites that spell out the proper clearances.

2) Utility - our local utility publishes a guide that clearly spells out clearances and all sorts of install information. Does your utility provide something like that? If so, get it.

3) Install instructions - from the fireplace mfg. See what their specs. are on vent clearances.

Go figure, who thought 2" (supposedly) would make such a stink. Such is the life we lead. . .

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Just curious. Are we talking about 2' 10" instead of 3'? As Randy said, we have a guide that gives clearances from the vent termination. I would imagine the clearnaces are similar elsewhere.

http://www.pse.com/SiteCollectionDocume ... s/3885.pdf

I often see that termination extended to get away from windows. It seems it would be a very simple job to add an extension (if needed).

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Thanks for the feedback. Yes, I should have measured it. I did a visual inspection around the exterior, but did not get an exact measurement. I'm going back tomorrow to take a look, but I have been told by the realtor that it is 2' 10". Thanks for the PDF that will be a big help.

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Thanks for the feedback. Yes, I should have measured it. I did a visual inspection around the exterior, but did not get an exact measurement. I'm going back tomorrow to take a look, but I have been told by the realtor that it is 2' 10". Thanks for the PDF that will be a big help.

Heck, just take a 6" nipple with you & screw it onto the vent. Problem solved.

By the way, I wouldn't have measured it either. What, exactly is going to go wrong because this thing is 2" closer to the gas meter?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Thanks for the feedback. Yes, I should have measured it. I did a visual inspection around the exterior, but did not get an exact measurement. I'm going back tomorrow to take a look, but I have been told by the realtor that it is 2' 10". Thanks for the PDF that will be a big help.

See if you can get a doc from your own utility first.

It may look a little funny showing up with a document from Washington state.

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...

By the way, I wouldn't have measured it either. What, exactly is going to go wrong because this thing is 2" closer to the gas meter?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

Likewise. I would have eyeballed it and found it close enough.

Haven't you ever wondered how so many safety measurements "just happen" to end up as nice round whole units? I seriously doubt that after extensive scientific testing, exactly 3' was found to be the safe/dead cutoff. This whole thing sounds like a ridiculously high mountain being made out of a two inch mole hill.

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I went back and measured. From the vent on the meter to the exhaust it measures 34.5". I also found a decent PDF from the gas company with the clearance requirements. I'm waiting for a callback from the gas guy who did the evaluation. I just need some clarification on a few points. Thanks for everyone's help and advice.

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Tom, in wonderful Michigan I have never seen a meter that was not vented. I have looked at a few in New York and don't recall seeing one that was unvented except the scroll commercial type.

In my area there are still alot of meters in basements, mine included, and I have yet to see one that has the vent termination extended to the exterior. When I was doing my field training about 2 hours north of here was the first and last time I had seen an exterior vent termination for a gas meter (regulator). I had to ask what it was.

Tom

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We catch about 30 or so per year that are interior meter, not vented to exterior. We write those that are not vented to exterior.

There is an obscure regulation from our public service commission that requires all natural gas meters to be installed at exterior locations and those that are installed within interior space be moved to exterior. Typically the utility will attempt, and succeed, charging for this work.

I think we are gassier (Chad will love that word) in Michigan than you New Yorkers!

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