Search This Blog

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Check codes before remodeling or adding a fireplace

From Fireside Distributors
Kansas City area chimney technician and state fire investigator Gene Padgitt has found multiple code violations and fire hazards in chimneys he has inspected over the years, and many problems he finds are in remodeling projects.

A recent inspection revealed that a designer added a fireplace to a room but did not check International Residential Code to see how it should be done. The designer, mason, and carpenter were in the process of building a wood-framed masonry lined box to house a set of gas logs that are designed for masonry chimneys only. "Had the homeowner used the fireplace there would have been a house fire - guaranteed. said Padgitt. "Gas logs can only be installed in brick or stone chimneys with a brick fireplace and proper clearances to combustibles. Designers and remodelers who don't know the codes should not be doing this type of work because a serious problem can result," said Padgitt.

The International Residential Code and National Fire Protection 211 Standard are the primary sources used to design and construct fireplaces and chimneys, and they are adopted by most jurisdictions. A permit is usually required to build a chimney, or install a hearth appliance or flue liner in most cities in the greater Kansas City area and the permit must be pulled by a Licensed Mechanical Contractor or someone with a special Contractor's License. Each city has their own rules, but most follow the Johnson County Contractor Licensing requirements.

Gas logs produce flame, just like wood does, but unfortunately many people have the impression that gas logs are not the same as wood. Flame produces heat, and if clearances are not followed or there is a defect in construction, a house fire will result. The proper type and size of fireplace, smoke chamber, damper, and flue liner must be used or the logs will not function properly and may cause Carbon Monoxide backup into the home. CO is odorless, colorless, and tasteless, and the gas can cause ill health or even death.

Padgitt suggests that a professional Certified Chimney Sweep who is a chimney builder be consulted during the design process so problems can be avoided before building begins. In the case of a chimney that has already been constructed, an inspection from a professional can provide peace of mind that the project was completed properly and to code.

More information can be found at