June 1997 Edition

Install A Fireplace Anywhere!

A neighbor was talking about a new type of fireplace that does not require a chimney or vent pipe and can be installed anywhere in the house. How is this possible and do they really work? Also, do you know where we can call for additional information?
When most people think fireplace, they think chimney and smoke. That changed with the advent of “Direct-Vent” gas fireplaces, which replaced the chimney with a horizontal duct that went out through your wall. Now manufacturers have gone one step further with “Vent-Free” fireplaces and heaters, which require no venting to the outdoors. For homeowners, this makes it possible to put a gas heater or fireplace (they’re essentially the same) along an interior wall, where ducts to the outside would be difficult to install. Vent-free units are also useful for adding supplemental heat to basements, additions and garages.


Two technological improvements make these vent-free appliances much safer than old-fashioned space heaters. The first is better burners, to minimize by-products like carbon monoxide. The second is the addition of an oxygen depletion sensor, which shuts the gas off if oxygen levels fall below a safe level.
You may think it’s odd, letting combustion products from a fire go right into your home to pollute your household breathing air. But these vent-free devices have a good safety record. Since 1982, four million vent-free heating devices have been installed in American homes, and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has not identified a single death from their emissions. Also, a recent study determined that vent-free heaters, when properly sized, installed and used, will produce pollutants and combustion by-products that are below the levels established by the CPSC, OSHA and other regulatory agencies. One manufacturer, Superior Fireplace, has even added a catalytic converter to their fireplace, reducing the output of pollutants to almost zero.
Vent-free gas appliances do add a large amount of water vapor to your home - several gallons a day for larger units. If you already have a condensation problem in winter, this added water vapor is likely to worsen it, but if you suffer from dry air, it will undoubtedly help.
Critics of vent-free gas heaters point out that we know little about the long term effects of low-level exposure to combustion by-products, and that even vented furnaces have produced several hundred deaths because of malfunctions.
If you are planning to use a vent-free heater or fireplace, follow these guidelines:
  • Use only for supplemental heat, not for the principal heat in a dwelling. This is important: The units are not designed to be your main heat source.
  • Do not use them in a sleeping room, bathroom or RV.
  • Use the right size of heater, according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
  • Have it professionally installed.
  • Finally, if you’re considering a fireplace, be sure to see it in use before you buy, to be sure the flame color is acceptable.
For additional information, you can contact any of the following manufacturers:
Heatilator, Inc. (319) 385-9211
Majestic Co. (219) 356-8000
Superior Fireplace Co. (800) 854-0257
Vermont Castings, Inc. (802) 234-2300
Temco Fireplaces (800) 249-1200
Readybuilt Fireplaces (410) 233-5833

Source: The Family Handyman, April 1997

 Termite Letter Problem!

We are having a problem obtaining a “Termite Letter” on our house because we have synthetic stucco. Do you know anyone who can help?
The problem is a common one due to the synthetic stucco extending below ground. The same problem exist for perimeter slab insulation. Termites can crawl up the insulation board into the structure and cannot be detected by a visual inspection.              
Nationwide, subterranean termite damage approaches a billion dollars a year. The damage may not be as sudden or as violent as damage from fire or major storms, but it’s more likely to occur - nearly one and a half million homes are damaged by termites annually. Among other problems, termite feeding causes sagging floors, loose trim and damaged walls, and can eventually lead to major repairs. Atlanta is the second worst area in the United States for termites.
There is a new system on the market that is solving this problem. It is called the “Sentricon System” and was developed by DowElanco. The Sentricon System takes advantage of natural termite behavior. Worker termites constantly forage far and wide, looking for wood to feed the colony. When they find food, like the monitoring device in a sentricon station, they leave special scent trails to summon their nestmates to the food source.
The system is a simple one. A plastic monitoring station is placed in the soil at strategic locations along the outside of the house. The stations are filled with wood to attract the termites. The stations will be checked regularly for termite activity. Once the pest control professional discovers termites feeding in the station, the monitoring device is replaced with a Baitube device containing a special termite bait. The termites, that were caught in the monitoring station, are placed in with the bait. In doing so, the system takes advantage of the natural behavior of termites to spread the bait  throughout the colony. The bait contains a substance that stops the molting process so termites can’t grow. In time, all the termites in the colony will be affected by the bait and die. After the colony has been eliminated, the bait will be replaced with new monitoring devices.
For a list of local authorized operators contact www.sentricon.com or call 1-800-686-6200. 

If you have a question, change of address, comment, home tip or would like to send Home Tips to your clients, send your letter to Home Tips, Christian Building Inspectors, Inc., 3697 Habersham Lane, Duluth, Georgia 30096. You can E-Mail your questions to us at rodharrison@christianbuildinginspectors.com. We reserve the right to edit questions for length.

Quote of the Month

“Failure is success if we learn from it”

- Malcolm S. Forbes 

A Tip Of The Hat To:

Jennifer Harrison

Buckhead Brokers Realtors

Atlanta, Georgia

**** Thank You****