The Confusion of a Wood Stove or Fireplace Inspection

There are many confusing situations in Ontario regarding the wood stove or fireplace inspections – known as WETT Inspections.

Some are partially correct – but what is the reality of the situation.  This article is about consumer protection and ensuring you understand and are able to navigate the twists and turns.

The credential that is looked for in Ontario is WETT Certification of the Inspector.  Yes the Inspector, the stove is not WETT Certified as some may think.

Nor do you get any WETT Certificate – if the inspector is handing out a WETT Certificate that is something they created themselves and is not something recommended by WETT.  What do you get – you should get at minimum the WETT Recommended Inspection sheets – which would be a checklist of code compliance – typically around eight pages for wood stove / fireplace and chimney.  ( there is one for chimney and a second for the wood burning appliance itself )

Some Home Inspectors have stated that a visual inspection is good for most wood burning systems – and that is an accurate statement however more on this below.  See Here.

Other Home Inspectors have stated that hiring a “Home Inspector” to perform your WETT Inspection during a property transfer or real estate transaction is a “Disaster Waiting To Happen” – and that may be the case in some situations as there have been clearly many errors made on WETT Inspections and found by WETT Certified Chimney Sweeps or WETT Certified Technicians.   However many Home Inspectors are capable of doing a reasonably good job of a Level 1 Inspection.  See Here or Here.  There are also some postings on websites which are partially correct but have errors – see here.  ( A Technician can perform a Level 2 Inspection )

See WETT Brochure for Levels and what each can perform.

The problem arises in that the NFPA-211 states a Level 2 Inspection should be performed on any Real Estate transaction or Land Transfer – See Here or Here.

Yes the SITE Basic Inspector – the entry level WETT Certification – which most Home Inspectors are certified at (verify here)  can perform a Level 1 Inspection.  A Level 1 is valid for regular Insurance requirements when the system has not changed – when there is no land transfer or no real estate transaction.

To perform a Level 2 one must be a WETT Certified Technician – WETT Certified Chimney Sweep or WETT Certified Comprehensive Inspector.  And as per the NFPA 211 – a Real Estate Transaction requires a Level 2 Inspection.

So there is some truth in some of the articles on Home Inspector sites.

a) Yes an Visual Inspection is normally all that is required – but a Level 2 versus a Level 1

b) Yes sometimes hiring a Home Inspector to perform a WETT Inspection can be potentially a disaster – there have been several documented errors made by local Chimney Sweeps in the Midland area recently.

c) Yes the NFPA 211 states a Level 2 should be performed on any Real Estate and Land Transfers.

But it goes even further – there are some inspectors out there perform so call WETT Inspections who are NOT WETT Certified !   They claim to offer WETT Inspections.  One was a Home Inspector in Penetanguishene – after being reported their site has been down for maintenance.  However some sites stating their WETT Credentials still exist on the web: Here & Here – maybe more.

There are others who claim ability to perform a Level 2 or Level 3 Inspection – yet only have their SITE Basic Credentials – so be careful and verify.

But there are others – in B.C. one case where an individual produced a falsified ID Card!  Check the Inspectors ID Card and Verify on the WETT Site here.

Yes there are a lot of very competent WETT Inspectors to help you.  But there are a few bad apples in the bunch, so protect yourself and be careful.

For Real Estate Transactions – as Bruce Grant states – look for a WETT Certified Chimney Sweep!  Reality is you can also look for a WETT Certified Comprehensive Inspector – problem is there are less than 200 at this level in all of Canada.

And finally – another thing to look at is price.  Fact is that those who are in the business of wood burning systems make there money there, they have the experience and have the education and background.  That is the good part – the down side is they will also almost certainly be the most costly in the inspection side.   Yes they will almost guaranteed do the best – but may also be the most expensive.  You should expect to pay around $150 to $200 for a proper WETT Inspection – any less one should be cautious as to what they are getting.

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