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L-vent chimney specifications: this article describes the installation and inspection of L-Vent chimneys used to vent oil-fired heating systems. We illustrate both safe and unsafe L-vent metal chimney installations, including chimneys that are too short, too close to other structures, are damaged, or are missing components.
Our page top photo shows an L-vent chimney that is too short above the roof, and too short in total rise - the oil fired boiler it vents never worked properly and always had marginal draft until this chimney was replaced with a taller unit.
We use Type L-Vents, double-walled metal chimneys for venting heating appliances not only for fire safety but also because the insulation provided by the doubled walls improves draft - an important safety requirement when venting oil or gas fired appliances.
A Type-L vent is used for oil-fired appliances but can also be used for venting natural gas fired appliances.
But as we explain at TYPE B VENT vs L VENT DIFFERENCES, the reverse is not true - that is, you can substitute an L-vent chimney for a B-type vent, but you cannot go the other way: a B-type vent chimney cannot be used in high temperature applications where an L-vent chimney is required.
As Carson Dunlop's sketch indicates, Type-L vents are tested to 1000 degF. [Some products list lower listing temperatures, as we explain here.]
Some manufacturers such as Metal-Fab, Inc. provide installation manuals for L-Vents indicating that their L-Vent systems are listed for gas and oil furnaces that do not exceed 570 degF at the outlet temperature [of the furnace or boiler], and for 1700 degF. for a 10-minute "safety overfire" situation."
Chimney Height Requirements for Type L Vents
Heights for both L-Vent and B-Vent metal chimney vents are shown in Carson Dunlop's sketch. You will see that the L-Vent needs to be at least two feet above anything within ten feet of the chimney, and it should be at least two feet above the roof surface.
The sketch notes add that a metal chimney venting a wood burning appliance like a woodstove must be at least three feet above the roof surface.
Here is a metal chimney which is obviously too-short, violating both of the height specifications cited just above. The chimney is less than two feet above the ridge and less than three feet above the roof surface.
You may also notice that it was improperly installed - the roof flashing sides are open to leaks.
In addition to the "too short" L-vent type chimneys already describe above, here are some other troubles to look for.
How about that rusty L-type chimney at below left?
At above right the metal cap has rusted and blown off of this Type L vent serving an oil fired heating system. Rain down the flue invites corrosion, chimney damage, and unsafe flue, and a damaged heating appliance. At below left we can see stains showing that water has been running down inside this chimney, leaking out inside the building. In some installations, depending on how the flue vent connector joins the chimney, water runs on into the heater itself.
Readers should also see METAL CHIMNEYS & FLUES and then FIRE CLEARANCES, METAL CHIMNEYS. This article series on chimneys, chimney construction, and chimney safety provide detailed suggestions describing how to perform a thorough visual inspection of chimneys for safety and other defects.
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Mark Cramer Inspection Services Mark Cramer, Tampa Florida, Mr. Cramer is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors and is a Florida home inspector and home inspection educator. Mr. Cramer serves on the ASHI Home Inspection Standards. Contact Mark Cramer at: 727-595-4211 mark@BestTampaInspector.com
John Cranor is an ASHI member and a home inspector (The House Whisperer) is located in Glen Allen, VA 23060. He is also a contributor to InspectApedia.com in several technical areas such as plumbing and appliances (dryer vents). Contact Mr. Cranor at 804-747-7747 or by Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Home Inspection Education Home Study Courses - ASHI@Home Training 10-course program. Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on these courses: Enter INSPECTAHITP in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
The Home Reference Book, a reference & inspection report product for building owners & inspectors. Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
The Home Reference eBook, an electronic version for PCs, the iPad, iPhone, & Android smart phones. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference eBook purchased as a single order. Enter inspectaehrb in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
The Illustrated Home illustrates construction details and building components, a reference for owners & inspectors. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Illustrated Home purchased as a single order Enter INSPECTAILL in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
The Horizon Software System manages business operations,scheduling, & inspection report writing using Carson Dunlop's knowledge base & color images. The Horizon system runs on always-available cloud-based software for office computers, laptops, tablets, iPad, Android, & other smartphones.
Thanks to Luke Barnes for suggesting that we add text regarding the hazards of shared chimney flues. USMA - Sept. 2008.
Arlene Puentes, an ASHI member and a licensed home inspector in Kingston, NY, and has served on ASHI national committees as well as HVASHI Chapter President. Ms. Puentes can be contacted at email@example.com
Roger Hankeyis principal of Hankey and Brown home inspectors, Eden Prairie, MN, technical review by Roger Hankey, prior chairman, Standards Committee, American Society of Home Inspectors - ASHI. 952 829-0044 - hankeyandbrown.com
NFPA #211-3.1 1988 -
Specific to chimneys, fireplaces, vents and solid fuel burning appliances.
NFPA # 54-7.1 1992 -
Specific to venting of equipment with fan-assisted combustion systems.
Gas Appliance Manufacturers' Association has prepared venting tables for
Category I draft hood equipped central furnaces as well as fan-assisted
combustion system central furnaces.
National Fuel Gas Code, an American National Standard, 4th ed. 1988 (newer edition is available) Secretariats, American Gas Association (AGA), 1515 Wilson Blvd., Arlington VA22209, and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Batterymarch Park, Quincy MA 02269. ANSI Z223.1-1988 - NFPA 54-1988. WARNING: be sure to check clearances and other safety guidelines in the latest edition of these standards.
Fire Inspector Guidebook, A Correlation of Fire Safety Requirements Contained in the 1987 BOCA National Codes, (newer edition available), Building Officials and Code Administrators International, Inc. (BOCA), Country Club HIlls, IL 60478 312-799-2300 4th ed. Note: this document is reissued every four years. Be sure to obtain the latest edition.
Uniform Mechanical Code - UMC 1991, Sec 913 (a.) Masonry Chimneys,
refers to Chapters 23, 29, and 37 of the Building Code.
New York 1984 Uniform Fire
Prevention and Building Code, Article 10, Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning Requirements
New York 1979 Uniform Fire Prevention & Building Code, The "requirement" for 8" of solid masonry OR for use of a
flue liner was listed in the One and Two Family Dwelling Code for New
York, in 1979, in Chapter 9, Chimneys and Fireplaces, New York 1979
Building and Fire Prevention Code:
"Top Ten Chimney (and related) Problems Encountered by One Chimney Sweep," Hudson Valley ASHI education seminar, 3 January 2000, contributed by Bob Hansen, ASHI
"Rooftop View Turns to Darkness," Martine Costello, Josh Kovner, New Haven Register, 12 May 1992 p. 11: Catherine Murphy was sunning on a building roof when a chimney collapsed; she fell into and was trapped inside the chimney until rescued by emergency workers.
"Chimneys and Vents," Mark J. Reinmiller, P.E., ASHI Technical Journal, Vol. 1 No. 2 July 1991 p. 34-38.
"Chimney Inspection Procedures & Codes," Donald V. Cohen was to be published in the first volume of the 1994 ASHI Technical Journal by D. Friedman, then editor/publisher of that publication. The production of the ASHI Technical Journal and future editions was cancelled by ASHI President Patrick Porzio. Some of the content of Mr. Cohen's original submission has been included in this more complete chimney inspection article: InspectAPedia.com/chimneys/Chimney_Inspection_Repair.htm. Copies of earlier editions of the ASHI Technical Journal are available from ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors.
"Chimneys and Vents", 789 CMR 68.00 Massachusetts Building Code, web search 10/15/2010, original source:
780 CMR: STATE BOARD OF BUILDING REGULATIONS AND STANDARDS
THE MASSACHUSETTS STATE BUILDING CODE - quoting: 6801.11 Multiple-Appliance Venting Systems.
Two or more listed and labeled fossil fuel-fired
appliances shall not be connected to a common
natural draft venting system unless permitted per
applicable requirements of 248 CMR or 527 CMR.
For solid fuel-burning appliances, see 780 CMR
Chimneys and Vents, Chapter 18, M1801,model building code - [on file as Code_Chim_Res_C_18.pdf] - widely used by U.S. & Canadian Municipalities,
"Model DFS L-Vent / Type B Gas Vent Installation Instructions", Selkirk Corporation, 5030 Corporate Exchange Blvd., Grand Rapids MI 49512, Tel: 800-433-6341 & Selkirk Canada Corporation, PO Box 526, Depot 1, Hamilton ON L8L 7X6, 888-735-5475, web search 10/15/2010, original source: www.mass.gov/Eeops/docs/dps/780%20CMR/780068.pdf
"Type L Temperature Venting Systems [on file as L_Vent_Metal_Fab.pdf] - ", Installation and Maintenance Instructions, Metal-Fab Inc., PO Box 1138, Sichita KS 67201, 316-943-2351, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org website: www.mtl-fabinc.com
The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume. Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
Or choose the The Home Reference eBook for PCs, Macs, Kindle, iPad, iPhone, or Android Smart Phones. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference eBook purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAEHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
Carson Dunlop, Associates, Toronto, have provided us with (and we recommend) Carson Dunlop Weldon & Associates' Technical Reference Guide to manufacturer's model and serial number information for heating and cooling equipment
Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Technical Reference Guide purchased as a single order. Just enter INSPECTATRG in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
Ceramic Roofware, Hans Van Lemmen, Shire Library, 2008, ISBN-13: 978-0747805694 - Brick chimneys, chimney-pots and roof and ridge tiles have been a feature of the roofs of a wide range of buildings since the late Middle Ages. In the first instance this ceramic roofware was functional - to make the roof weatherproof and to provide an outlet for smoke - but it could also be very decorative.
The practical and ornamental aspects of ceramic roofware can still be seen throughout Britain, particularly on buildings of the Victorian and Edwardian periods. Not only do these often have ornate chimneys and roof tiles but they may also feature ornamental sculptures or highly decorative gable ends. This book charts the history of ceramic roofware from the Middle Ages to the present day, highlighting both practical and decorative applications, and giving information about manufacturers and on the styles and techniques of production and decoration.
Hans van Lemmen is an established author on the history of tiles and has lectured on the subject in Britain and elsewhere. He is founder member and presently publications editor of the British Tiles and Architectural Ceramics Society. Available at the InspectAPedia Bookstore.
Chimney & Stack Inspection Guidelines, American Society of Civil Engineers, 2003 - These guidelines address the inspection of chimneys and stacks. Each guideline assists owners in determining what level of inspection is appropriate to a particular chimney and provides common criteria so that all parties involved have a clear understanding of the scope of the inspection and the end product required. Each chimney or stack is a unique structure, subject to both aggressive operating and natural environments, and degradation over time. Such degradation may be managed via a prudent inspection program followed by maintenance work on any equipment or structure determined to be in need of attention. Sample inspection report specifications, sample field inspection data forms, and an example of a developed plan of a concrete chimney are included in the guidelines. This book provides a valuable guidance tool for chimney and stack inspections and also offers a set of references for these particular inspections.