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How to inspect factory-built fireplaces & fireplace inserts. This article provides a checklist useful for building or home inspectors who need to examine a factory-built fireplace and chimney. Zero-clearance fireplaces are typically steel constructed fireplaces to burn wood or perhaps other fuels such as LP or natural gas in modern homes, usually connected to a metal chimney. Our photo (left) shows a zero-clearance gas fireplace. Other zero clearance fireplaces burn wood or perhaps other fuels.
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Following this example of hard-to-spot but unsafe factory-built fireplace installation fire hazards we provide a checklist for the inspection of factory-built fireplaces.
Watch out: we have found a few zero-clearance fireplaces improperly installed too close to combustibles.
The clearance to combustibles is not "zero" but one or more inches, depending on the materials, construction, and manufacturers' instructions.
The installer did not understand the purpose of steel clearance-assuring projections welded to the zero-clearance fireplace, and s/he had hammered them flat to "shoe-horn" the zero clearance fireplace into a too-small wood-framed rough opening. The result was a serious building fire hazard and a building code violation as well.
Our photo of a zero-clearance fireplace from inside the framed opening (left) shows the clearance guards intact next to our ruler. But inspection showed chimney leaks onto this unit - evidenced by the rust and white stains that can ultimately damage the flue (at upper right) and the fireplace unit, making it unsafe.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about using a checklist to inspect factor-built fireplaces
Questions & answers or comments about the installation, code compliance, safety & inspection of factory-built fireplaces, fireplace inserts, & zero-clearance fireplaces.
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