Woodstove Insert and EPA Compliance Efforts: Mammoth Lakes Fireplace Regulations
In Mammoth Lakes and much of the Eastern Sierra residents have a history of relying heavily on wood burning stoves and fireplaces and an alternative means of keeping warm. While the use of woodstoves has a great number of benefits, there are some drawbacks bringing the use of these appliances under fire.
There are two primary ordinances in Mammoth Lakes people should be aware of, particularly when buyer or selling a property. Because these ordinances have been approved by the Town of Mammoth Lakes at very different points in time there tends to be some confusion regarding what it means to be compliant.
EPA Woodstove Compliance Requirements – This ordinance deals with the environmental concerns of fireplaces and woostoves.
In efforts to maintain clean mountain air, Mammoth Lakes implemented an ordinance in 1990 requiring all older woodstoves, not meeting “Phase II” EPA standards, to be removed from a dwelling upon the sale of that property. Non-EPA standard woodstoves can be replaced with cleaner burning EPA compliant stoves, pellet stoves, or fireplaces that do not burn solid fuel (i.e. propane fireplaces), or the device can be rendered inoperable.
When purchasing a property, the buyer of the property assumes responsibility for the replacement, removal or rendering the appliance inoperable and has 60 days from the completion of the transfer to bring the appliance into compliance. Open fireplaces that burn wood must also be brought into compliance or made inoperable. Often concession are made in escrow to accommodate for a property’s compliance to current standards.
Below is a link to a form outlining Buyer Assumed Responsibility for the EPA Phase II Compliance:
Fines for non- compliance are $100 for the first day, $200 for the second day and $500 for the third day and each day after until the property is brought into compliance
Woodstove Insert and Retrofit Compliance – This ordinance addresses concerns over potential fire hazards as they related to woodstove inserts within the flue.
The ordinance was brought forward by the Mammoth Lakes Fire department and Town Staff after recognizing a good number of flues were not initially built to withstand the heat created by more modern wood appliances and therefore required a greater separation between flues pipes and combustible materials within the Chimney. Fire department officials and building officials were noticing burn areas on wood building materials in the flue and in come cases had to put out fires that had stemmed from this issue.
In March 2013 a separate ordinance was passed by the Town of Mammoth Lakes with regard to “woodstove inserts”. This ordinance essentially addresses only those woodstove appliances designed to be inserted into a fireplaces constructed of masonry, metal or other material. This ordinance does not apply to freestanding woodstove with an open flue pipe or pellet stove inserts. The ordinance also does not apply to fireplaces where solid fuel is NOT used, such as propane fireplaces.
This retrofit ordinance essentially states that wood burning insert appliances installed within the town shall be removed or reconstructed to meet the requirements of the Mammoth Lakes Municipal code 15.04.140.
In many cases, inserts already meet the requirements and don’t need to be replaced or reconstructed, but for those that do not meet the requirements the cure can be somewhat cumbersome and expensive. The local fire chief can inspect your flue to verify its compliance.
General estimates to retrofit a flue for use with a woodstove insert often run between $7,000 – $9,000. Often the cure is simplified by replacing the woodstove with a propane stove or fireplace, a pellet stove, or simply making the flue inoperable.
Much like the EPA ordinance, compliance with this ordinance becomes the responsibility of the buyer upon the purchase of a property in Mammoth Lakes. Buyers have 60 days to begin compliance with the ordinance and 6 months to comply. Depending on the situation, an applicant can cooperate with the Town of Mammoth Lakes and extend the time in which compliance is completed, this can be up to 1 or 2 years.
Approved woodstove manufactures, unless otherwise approved by the Board of Appeals include Quadra Fire, Buck Stoves, Regency Fire, Lopi, Jotul, Sierra Stove, Avalon, Pacific Energy, Napoleon, Enviro, Country Stove, Hampton, Drolet and Flame XTD.
For additional questions about woodstove requirements when purchasing a home in Mammoth Lakes, give me a call. Matthew Lehman Real Estate 760-934-1110 or visit www.trademarkmammoth.com
These are just a few important items to consider with regard to woodstove inserts and EPA Compliance efforts in Mammoth Lakes.