A Certified Appliance is a unit which has been tested by a “recognized testing facility” (Underwriters Laboratories of Canada, Underwriters Laboratories, Warnek Horsey and CSA) and typically have a plate or sticker usually located on rear of appliance listing requirements of installation. When your wood burning appliance bears one of these labels it means the Products bearing the Warnock Hersey (WH-ETL) Mark or ULC etc, and indicate compliance to relevant building codes, association criteria, and product safety and performance standards.
Insurance is part of wood heat safety, and making your system safer ensures you the best possible premium for your insurance. Call your insurance representative to review your coverage and inform him or her when you make any changes. This includes adding or changing a wood stove, modifying a chimney – anything that may influence the safety of your system. Your insurance representative will want to know if your unit is certified by Underwriters’ Laboratories of Canada (ULC) or the Canadian Standard Association (CSA) and may refuse to insure your home if the stove is not certified. He or she will also want to know if your unit was installed by a professional and if the clearances are up to the latest Building Code and Fire Code, including a proper floor pad, venting system and so forth.
Wood burning appliances fall into two distinct categories. Uncertified appliances are typically older units that have never under gone the rigorous testing required to obtain a Certification by a testing laboratory. Certified appliances have been tested by one of the registered laboratories, i.e. CSA, ULC, OTL or Warnock-Hersey, and have passed all requirements.
I actually attended a “woodstove certification testing” in Toronto and was amazed at the detail of testing. First, it is the manufactures responsibility to determine the safe distances required to combustible construction, that information is part of the installation instructions. ULC in this case, set the stove up in accordance with the installation instructions and then placed “heat sensors” around, below and above the wood stove. The wood stove was then fired up and ran for an hour or two as measurements were taken from all the different sensors. If any sensor indicated heat above the testing limits, the unit would fail. Most manufactures tend to err on the side of safety when specifying distances to combustibles as the cost of one test was over $15,000 dollars ten years ago.
If you are purchasing a home equipped with a wood burning device, it is very important to add a clause to your offer that unit pass a WETT inspection to determine whether the unit is installed correctly and is safe to use. Many older units are very unsafe and even chimney’s that were allowed 15 to 20 years ago may not be allowed today. On one such visit we found an uncertified appliance located within 4 inches of an unshielded combustible wall. A type chimney’s were used in past years and can still be used today as long as original configuration is left intact. If you were to upgrade or replace your wood stove you would no longer be able to use A type chimney and replacement would be required.
Every part of your wood stove or wood burning appliance has to be installed in accordance with the manufactures instructions. If you install a stainless steel chimney all parts used have to be approved by manufacturer. If in doubt call the manufacture or their local representative to find out what products can be used in conjunction with theirs.
Check with your insurance company prior to installing any wood burning appliance. Some insurance companies will not insure an installation unless installed by a WETT Certified Installer. Even if they do accept your installation they may require a level 2 WETT Inspection which could significantly reduce money saved by doing installation yourself.
If you are buying a new home and the fireplace or wood stove has been used on a regular basis then it is recommended that you hire a WETT Certified Chimney sweep to clean your chimney and provide you with a WETT Inspection. The heavy build up of soot and creosote would prevent some doing a Site Basic inspection from viewing any cracks in flue pipes etc due to buildup in chimney. So protect your home and your family by having a WETT Certified Inspection of your wood burning appliance.