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Legality of RMH in Pennsylvania?  RSS feed

 
Linda Listing
Posts: 43
Location: Western PA
urban
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I really don't want to give the frackers in my area another dime. I am looking at alternative heating in a 90 year old city house. Our two fireplaces don't heat squat. They were an add-on by a well-to-do previous owner. The heat goes up the chimney. The piping for the gas fireplace has been removed by other owners. The other fireplace burns wood. Chimney and fireplace/woodstove firms are becoming scarcer in the area too, not that I have money to burn. I also have a tar allergy (present in many woods) which makes conventional woodstoves a problem, too much smoke.

The 2016 new years resolution is to learn about all things RMH. I have the recommended reading to keep me busy this winter. Baby projects are planned.

I like the idea of cobbing my dining room with benches and installing the RMH there and ignoring the fireplaces. My question is more of a "Will my insurance company cancel my insurance?" And what do I need to do by way of building inspections, code compliance, etc. Anyone familiar with PA's tangled laws? Greywater is not legal here. I read the Bioshelter book since they are local to the state but they don't appear to use a rocket mass heater.

I've spoken to a lot of folks which is why I'd like to also find out if anyone on Permies has dealt with this in PA. Other heating suggestions are welcome too, but Paul Wheaton is pretty convincing on RMH.
 
Chadwick Holmes
Posts: 618
Location: Volant, PA
27
forest garden fungi goat trees wofati woodworking
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I am in Lawrence county, I am looking into the same questions. There are a lot of new things happening with the outdoor boilers that everyone has. The other issue is insurance. I'll update any solid info that I can find, I'll be interested in anything you can find, but counties may have differences. We are currently on 2009 building codes if I remember correctly, I moved from Florida and they were already on 2012, I tend to build above code anyway so....
 
Glenn Herbert
gardener
Posts: 2180
Location: Upstate NY, zone 5
74
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I suppose the first thing for you to do is find out what building code applies to your house. New York uses the International Building Code, which has a section for "masonry heaters", and a sympathetic and savvy local building inspector can use that as a guide to say that your plan will be safe. Masonry heaters according to the code have a couple of features that cannot be present in a standard RMH, most notably a door on the firebox, which complicates the applicability. The code also only recognizes the "flue path" type of masonry heater and not the "bell" type.

There has been one instance I know of where a building permit was issued for a barn with the notation "rocket mass heater" specifically included. If you can get the building department to approve it, that may carry enough weight with your insurance company to cover it. All this requires thorough communication with the actual authorities involved. I don't know how much discretion local officials have in PA.
Good luck!
 
Chadwick Holmes
Posts: 618
Location: Volant, PA
27
forest garden fungi goat trees wofati woodworking
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Yes we are on international building code 2009, there are new codes always being developed so states and municipalities adopt a specific set for a given time, then move up usually to the next three year increment.

Great tip on masonry heaters code!
 
F Styles
Posts: 447
Location: climate zone 6b
2
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you may take advantage of the book The Cabin Stove, by Max Edleson i think its over at http://firespeaking.com/
and even look up batchbox to fit in front of your fire place and build according how you get permission from men that can tell you what you can do with your own property.

another guy is talking about a fireplace conversion here also. Building rocket stove out of soapstone slabs

building to code, worrying about code and asking permission? all those things are part of this topic and have not been a part of this country in its conception for a good reason. its a shame we have to "worry about" permission. i do not have code enforcers in my area and its a shame you do. its all part of the UN agenda 21 international law program and we have for lack of being involved allowed these punks to change our foundation. freedom comes with responsibility and you can not legislate responsibility no matter how many codes you put in place. i could not live in your area with a bunch ninnying authoritarian b@stards up my back side for no good reason than to boss you around.

another idea is to make your system mobile like did and put it on wheels to pull it away when your inspector... er um i mean when spring comes and you dont need heat anymore.

 
Roy Clarke
Posts: 134
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I'm in the UK, and we have even less freedom to do these things, though I am thinking about building an outdoor prototype as a first step. Much as I don't like the restrictions, I can understand why they are there. They are a minimum standard which the "professionals" build down to, and when you look on youtube and see some of the people and their projects, you can understand why the regulations come about, not only for rocket heaters. Sometimes you find good videos, many times they are ill thought out by people who's technical limit seems to be turning on a light switch.
 
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