Most homes purchased in the Comox Valley today do not have wood burning systems (stoves, fireplaces and chimneys) in them anymore. However when they do they are of sufficient concern to warrant additional due diligence on the part of the home buyer. Why is that?
Insurance companies may not insure your Comox luxury home if you purchase it with a wood burning system in it that has not been inspected and certified as being safe to use. Other insurance companies may charge higher premiums for the use of wood burning devices and some may not insure homes that are full time heated with wood. Before buying a home with a wood burning device it is wise to consult with your home insurer on the existence of any issues related to these systems from their perspective. Most likely you will be asked to have to have the device professionally inspected.
Inspections on wood burning systems in Canada are conducted by certified WETT inspectors who are certified by WETT Inc., a non-profit training and education association. Inspections are normally done for real estate transactions, for insurances purposes and to investigate concerns with the way a wood burning system is functioning. These inspections are commonly referred to as WETT inspections but as wetbc.ca points out there is no such thing as a WETT inspection nor can any appliance be WETT certified. An inspection report is issued based on applicable codes and standards by someone who is WETT certified.
WETT has adopted a process called System Inspections and Technical Evaluation (SITE) which is a set of standardized guidelines recommended by WETT for the inspection and/or evaluation of wood-burning systems. The three levels of inspection are subsequently discussed.
Level 1. These inspections are generally requested (by homeowner or third party such as an insurance company or home buyer) to verify code compliance of the readily accessible components. A basic visual inspection is conducted of a solid fuel burning appliance, a site-built fireplace and the venting system for the proper use of required components, clearance to combustibles and readily visible obstructions or deposits;
Level 2. These inspections involve inspection of accessible system components which may include the possible disassembly of accessible system components as part of an installation or major system component repair process. These inspections are conducted when:
- a Level 1 inspection is deemed insufficient because of a detected or suspected hazard;
- verification of the suitability and integrity of the system components is required;
- an operating malfunction or external event likely caused damage to the system;
- the system experiences combustion spillage events;
- an appliance is replaced; or
- a major system component is replaced or requires significant repair.
Level 3. These inspections involve inspection by invasive means of concealed areas of the system including the removal of non-structural building components and/or the disassembly of parts of the system. These inspections are conducted when:
- a level 2 inspection is deemed insufficient because of a detected or suspected hazard that cannot be fully verified without access to concealed areas; or
- an incident that may have caused damage to any concealed parts of the system or building construction related to the system.
A WETT certified:
- SITE basic inspector can perform a level 1 inspection. Most home inspectors who are WETT certified are certified at this level;
- Technician can perform a level 1 or 2 inspection. They can also install or perform maintenance on wood burning systems;
- Chimney Sweep can perform a level 1 or 2 inspection. They can also clean and maintain your entire wood burning system including sweeping the chimney; and
- SITE Comprehensive Inspector can perform level 1, 2 or 3 inspections. They are also technicians and/or sweeps.
The next time you are ready to purchase a Comox Valley luxury home aim high and contact Brett Cairns of REMAX Ocean Pacific Realty.
Published by Brett Cairns