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You have been asked for a WETT inspection. What does it mean?


So you have been asked for a WETT inspection and now you have questions like 'what is a WETT inspection' or 'why do I need one?'

A WETT inspection is an inspection preformed by a WETT certified inspector, but what is WETT? WETT stands for Wood Energy Technology Transfer, they are an industry leading organization dedicated to the training of people for the purpose of advancing the safe use of wood burning fireplaces and appliances. So a WETT certified inspector is someone who has completed WETT’s extensive, multiday training in understanding and applying the codes regulating the installation and use of wood burning units. I know what you're thinking: “But my wood stove is already certified why would I need it to be inspected?” Well the answer to that has two parts. 1. The organization that certified your wood burning appliance only certifies that the appliance was built to the standards and, if installed as directed in the installation manual, would be safe to use if operated in a safe manor. 2. The certification does not mean that the unit was installed properly nor does it mean that the unit is being operated safely. In comes the WETT inspection.

Why do I need a WETT inspection? We have looked at who WETT is, what is a WETT certified inspection and what makes an inspector WETT certified now let’s look at why would you need to have your wood burning fireplace or appliance. The WETT inspection could have been requested by any of several people such as the fire department, if there was a fire involving the wood burning unit, or as part of a real estate transaction or more commonly by an insurance company as part of your policy. As part of responsible ownership you are also required, under the fire code, to clean and inspect your wood burning unit on at least an annual basis though this does not need to be performed by a paid service if you are able to do the tasks yourself. The people who have requested a WETT inspection do so specifically because more than likely they understand the level of training and thoroughness of inspection that a WETT inspector is expected to operate to. While a WETT inspection is a code compliance inspection a WETT inspector will rarely be required to return to an inspected unit to confirm compliance after the required changes have been made. The thoroughness of the inspection that the requestor is seeking should be conveyed in a manner that shows not only the areas of compliance, the areas of non compliance but also the areas that, for legitimate reasons, could not be inspected. With this in mind WETT has produced recommended inspection checklists.

In a nut shell...

- Fire Departments are mandated to keep us safe - Home Buyers want to know the condition of the appliance and that it is safe - Insurance companies also want to know it's safe For more information on WETT, their courses and their codes and standards visit www.wettinc.ca and check out their FAQ. 3 Levels of WETT inspections! 'Which do I need?'

There are 3 unique levels of inspections offered and each level requires a minimum level of training to perform. Now you’re probably wondering “why don’t I just get the highest level of inspection?” Well you could do that but there are 2 reasons that it might not be the best idea. First is the cost, each level of inspection has a cost that is usually higher than the level below it due to the amount and type of activities performed during the inspection. Not all these activities are necessary for every inspection. The second reason is that the activities themselves involve various levels of intrusiveness such as dismantling the insert or opening up the wall surrounding the chimney to inspect areas that would not otherwise be seen by a visual inspection. These 2 reasons lead to the belief that it may be best to start at a level of inspection based on the understanding of the conditions of the unit at the time. By this I mean that where you just want to verify the installation of the unit a level 1 inspection may only be needed but where it is believed that issues may exist in an area not readily accessible then a level 2 or even a level 3 inspection may be needed. To use an analogy from the medical profession, would you jump straight to being looked at by a neurosurgeon if you felt a headache coming on or would you go see your family doctor first? Start with a level one inspection and if your WETT certified technician recommended a higher level of inspection the reasons will be abundantly clear based on his assessment.

As you can see a WETT inspection is not a complex task even though it provides valuable and sometimes life saving information, and if it is done correctly and conveyed thoroughly it can be a beneficial part of the ownership of a wood burning unit making the enjoyment of the unit that much better.


Be Safe!






Devon Bergsma

Home Inspector - InsideOutNB



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