Sat. Feb 24th, 2024

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Homebuyer alert: The WETT inspection, a disaster in the making!

In Orillia, Gravenhurst, Muskoka, or Parry Sound I tell my home, cottage, or commercial property inspection clients that getting a WETT inspection when buying a property is not in their best interest. Many of my clients are surprised and some, especially those who have had a WETT inspection before, are shocked! I let them know that my home, cottage, or commercial inspection is all about reducing the risk in property buying for my clients and a WETT inspection just does not do that. Your insurance company, your realtor and maybe even the home inspector you called all say you should have a WETT inspection. The home inspector may have also have told you they can perform the WETT inspection at the same time as the home inspection saving you money and making the WETT inspection cheap or even free. Should you? My answer is most emphatically NO! The reasons I give to my home, cottage and commercial inspection clients I will now share with you. I believe, as do many others, a level 1 WETT inspection could be a disaster in the making for any property buyer.

No Peace of mind

Wood Energy Technology Transfer Inc. (WETT Inc.) is a non-profit training and educational association. Through professional training and public education, WETT Inc. promotes the safe and efficient use of wood-burning systems in Canada. How could a home, cottage and commercial property inspector argue that a WETT inspection is the wrong thing for a property buyer to have? The WETT inspection that insurance companies require, realtors recommend, and many home inspectors offer in conjunction to the home inspection service is a level 1 insurance inspection. This is a very basic inspection that any WETT certified member is trained to perform in the course of a four day training program. But, don’t you believe that it offers any peace of mind with regard to your family’s safety.

What home inspectors, fire departments and building officials inspect

The level 1 inspection consists of a general overview of the readily accessible parts of a wood burning system to determine if the system meets current regulations. In other words, does the stove have a manufactures data plate? Is it installed to meet the criteria on the data plate? Or, if the appliance data plate is hidden, given the installation guidelines in the four day training program, is this wood burning appliance installed correctly as far as you can see? Is the hearth noncombustible and does it extend out far enough? If the answer is yes to these and similar measurement questions the inspector gives you a “pass”.

‘Level 1’ insurance inspection

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But wait. What haven’t we done during this basic inspection? We have not inspected the fire box or the chimney. These are the parts that contain and guide smoke, flames, and sparks away from the hearth or firebox and safety out of the home. Inspection of fireboxes, dampers, the smoke shelf, and the chimney is not required for the basic WETT inspection. When home inspectors Firemen, building officials and many others who perform the level 1 WETT inspections, inspect wood burning appliances they normally exclude the chimney and burning area and provide what is deemed a ‘Level 1’ insurance inspection. So they take measurements inside but do not inspect the interior of the firebox for cracks or splits, they do not check chimney or dampers. They do not check automatic thermostat controls on wood/oil furnaces, nor do they check the rain caps and spark arrestor screens on chimneys. This type of inspection is suited to examining a builders or installers work not to protect the home, cottage or commercial property buyer. Even if a dedicated home inspector did look at the chimney and firebox etc, if the items are covered in soot and creosote deposits what could they see anyway?

No real protection for the home, cottage or commercial property buyer!

Frankly, that type of inspection is a disaster waiting to happen to you the home cottage or commercial property buyer! Any masonry chimney can have loose mortar joints or even be missing pieces that cannot be seen until the chimney is cleaned properly. An earlier chimney fire may have gone unnoticed by an owner when it went out through lack of fuel. A chimney fire can overheat and crumble the mortar, mine did. If missing mortar leads to a space in the wall cavity, guess where the sparks can get to. I know and all firemen will tell you it happens all the time. Metal prefab chimneys can and have failed dramatically on the inside but seemed whole and in good condition to all outside appearances. The “Square D chimneys” are a notorious example but there are many examples each year of the inside seams opening up. Seams can open up through overheating from chimney fires, and through the insulation inside getting wet through a poorly sealed joint. The insulation can freeze and pop the seam open. Some prefab chimneys have had issues with insulation between the outer and inner wall settling allowing the seams at joints between lengths to warp and open up inside. Any place where that open seam allows heat to get will get extremely hot, hot enough to start a fire if it is against any combustible like the side of a building.

By admin