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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.
[Click to enlarge any image]
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.
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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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