Chimneys and Fire Code

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Joined: Tue Jun 23, 2020 12:40 pm

Chimneys and Fire Code

Unread post by tjdaggett » Thu Oct 01, 2020 1:57 pm

Good afternoon! I'm new here; should be posting in the Introduction section shortly. I may have met some of you on the first Zoom guild meeting. I was the guy proudly showing off a piece of rebar that bore a passing resemblance to a fire poker. You've got to start somewhere.

I am specifically worried about fire code, my chimney, and insurance inspectors. I saw another post in this section that mainly dealt with smoke and noise; I'm comfortable on both of those points. I have good relationships with all of my neighbors and will be burning charcoal. But a friend on IForgeIron who works in ventilation started talking about fire code, and a fireplace retailer that I was hoping to source black stovepipe through got talking about roving inspectors, and now I'm worried about fines and insurance and what have you.

I figured that if anyone knew whether that would be a real risk in the Cities, it would be you all. Any thoughts?

Short setup rundown: wood shed, shingle roof, dirt floor, planning to use single-walled black stovepipe 12" diameter with stainless steel chimney flashing around the base. Haven't nailed down supports yet, but they'll be there and they'll be non-flammable.

Thank you all in advance. Can't wait to get this thing up and running.

Martin Pansch
Posts: 314
Joined: Thu Feb 14, 2013 10:44 am
Location: Young America, MN

Re: Chimneys and Fire Code

Unread post by Martin Pansch » Fri Nov 27, 2020 12:13 pm

Hi Timothy

Building code and blacksmithing are tough to reconcile; not enough people doing it now days to have been considered when writing rules.

There are two ways to go about it. The first and most popular is to not worry about code. Put in what you want/need to draw smoke and make it as safe as your risk tolerance allows. In my experience a decent sized stack (10-12" diameter) on a forge doesn't get all that hot, certainly not as hot as a wood stove. This approach is only really sound if your shop is in a separate building and far enough away from anything else important (house, garage, neighbors, etc.). If you have a fire and burn the shop and everything in it to the ground it is unlikely your home owners insurance will cover it because it wasn't to code. I can't tell you to do it this way, that said, many blacksmiths have and not had an issue.

If you want to or have to follow code (shop attached to something important, prying eyes, etc.) it is really tough without some common sense from those who would inspect you. One can get UL rated, double-walled stainless flue, have the 2" standoff to combustibles (18" for single walled pipe), have the appropriate roof pass-through, etc. but it breaks down at the forge hood. There is not, to my knowledge, a UL rated coal forge hood. Or coal forge for that matter. That is where the common sense from your inspector would come in. If you explain what you are doing, and have a detailed plan for how you are keeping it safe, like a metal shield with an air-gap on the wall, 18" standoff from your hood to combustibles (or a double wall hood with air gap or refractory in it), etc. they might be helpful.

Of course, your mileage varies depending on your location and the understanding of your inspectors and insurance. If you go this way I would recommend you refer to your shop as "an artist's metal working studio" instead of a blacksmithing shop. It seems to put them in a more receptive state of mind. I don't know if they have more experience with that, or less threatening mental images of artists versus blacksmiths.

Also, if you go the aboveboard way be prepared for sticker shock. That double walled pipe is not cheap. Over $100 a foot. If you aren't in a hurry you can cruise Craiglist and find some second hand. The big diameters is rare though. Also know there are a couple brands, and they don't join up, so if you find 6' of Selkirk and 6' of Duravent you do not have 12' of flue.

Good luck!

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