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Does anyone follow Code? What about weight issues?  RSS feed

 
Thor Thurman
Posts: 5
Location: Ucon, Idaho
dog food preservation woodworking
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Okay, So I recently finished reading Rocket Stoves III edition. I have loved all of the great information packed into that book! I have watched several videos on this site and richsoil.com But I still have a few questions. I watched a video where ernie and erica showed a build in Oregon that they were trying to do to code and from all the pictures and information and forums I have looked like it seems like no one is following code. so here are my questions:

1. Do most of the builders not care about building a stove to code because "technically" there isn't a code for RMH, just for woodstoves and they are building off-grid or in homes where they hope no one will come check to see if code was followed? I see most builds of RMH right next to walls, maybe 8-10 inches away from the riser at most. When code puts you at 18-24" depending on location. Is this because a lot of people are putting these in Cob homes? What about the normal Joe who lives in a stick-built subdivision in Eastern Idaho and just wants a more efficient way to heat his house? Am I gonna have to spend thousands to get my RMH to code?

2. So for those who build right next to walls, like those Ernie an Erica did at the education center in california, have there been problems down the road with lowering the flash points of materials? Has anyone had a RMH in new wood frame construction for more than a few years and can they attest to its safety? Even If I put in a brick wall behind the stove, the Bricks will still get hot and heat up the sheetrock, rockboard and studs behind it... It doesn't feel like a RMH can go in normal construction homes... At least not on my main floor, it would need to be on or next to cement...?

3. I read in the book how heavy some of these RMH can be (Several tons) and yet everyone says to put them in the center of your home where you live and move and have activity already. So for us that would be in the kitchen/living room upstairs, but how would I know if my floor joists/I-beams can hold the weight. I have a 3500 sq foot house that is heated by a gas forced air system. I would love to heat my basement and have it flow upstairs. I have read about putting a RMH in the basement but is seems there is a lot of negativity there with the Stack effect and the fact that it is far from your main living area and would be hard to tend. But at least in the basement I could remove some framing and get my RMH back against some cement or brick and it would be fine on the slab of concrete without concern of weight.

4. I really want a form of heating/cooking my family can enjoy and rely upon in case of the grid going down or as a way to reduce the cost of heating all the "air" in my house. I am just not seeing how a RMH can work for me without spending a lot more than the general contributors of these forums have spent. Any help?

So in summary

1. Does anyone follow code? Do you have pictures of any of these builds?

2. How can you tell if a main floor with a basement can take the weight? Don't really want to do trial and error here ( wait and see if the floor sags... yeah right)

3. How come all these builds are right next to walls, how does that work without creating "FIRE, FIRE, FIRE" as mentioned in the book, or all the stoves so new that we don't know yet?

Thanks for everyone's support in trying to figure this all out. I am loving this community of innovators!

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Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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RMH construction code proposal Portland Oregon is so far the only place that is establishing a specific code for RMH construction as far as I have found.

The "code" you would most likely need to follow is that concerning Masonry Heater construction.

2. How can you tell if a main floor with a basement can take the weight? Don't really want to do trial and error here ( wait and see if the floor sags... yeah right)


Since the construction of a Masonry Heater has a requirement of a foundation all the way to the building foundation, just trying to build on a "frame construction floor" would not work.
You would need to have sufficient support in the form of a pillar rising from the home foundation to the bottom of the heater construction beginning.

How come all these builds are right next to walls, how does that work without creating "FIRE, FIRE, FIRE" as mentioned in the book, or all the stoves so new that we don't know yet?


In the construction code for Masonry Heaters, there are specifications dealing with this, a RMH would also want to be following those guidelines I would think.
In a typical "Wood fired" heat stove install you need air space between the walls and a "plate" under the stove. These are normally fire proof from the studs out to the finished wall and a fire proof floor under the stove.
It makes sense to do that since the heat from the wood stove could char or ignite any wood or otherwise non fire proof material that was unprotected and in close proximity.

If you were to look at the construction of a typical fireplace in a new construction, you would see a solid or filled structure from below ground level to the base of the firebox, this is acts as both support for the weight of the chimney and as a heat sink to prevent non contact fires in the attached walls.

The RMH design can also be used like a masonry heater fitted with duct work to move the heat through the building being serviced by the heater.

Hope this helps you out and I am sure some others with far more knowledge than I will come along and give you their answers.
 
Thor Thurman
Posts: 5
Location: Ucon, Idaho
dog food preservation woodworking
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Thanks for your response. I appreciate everyone's experience. I will make a RMH work somehow, I just need my concerns resolved first.
 
F Styles
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Location: climate zone 6b
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i know it may not be a solution for everyone but i got tired of asking another man for permission to do things with my own property so i moved to an area with NO CODE enforcement. code enforcement is being abused by public servants that are shoving agenda 21 down our throats and trading our freedom for security and taking advantage of good people by using and abusing the term "sustainability". that term is good but we can not abuse it. be one with the earth does not mean run everyone off of it for the sake of corruption. there is good and bad in every movement. i digress and sorry i dont have any code advice other than... the best way to win, is not play the game.
 
Glenn Herbert
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Location: Upstate NY, zone 5
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Bryant has pretty well covered your questions. I can add a few things.

1. Does anyone follow code? Do you have pictures of any of these builds?

2. How can you tell if a main floor with a basement can take the weight? Don't really want to do trial and error here ( wait and see if the floor sags... yeah right)

3. How come all these builds are right next to walls, how does that work without creating "FIRE, FIRE, FIRE" as mentioned in the book, or all the stoves so new that we don't know yet?

The only code that sort of addresses RMH construction is the International Building Code section R1002 Masonry Heaters:
http://publicecodes.cyberregs.com/icod/irc/2012/icod_irc_2012_10_sec002.htm
However, there a few aspects of RMH construction that cannot follow code, especially the door requirement.

ASTM E1602, which is incorporated by reference into R1002, can only be bought from ASTM for $44:
http://www.astm.org/Standards/E1602.htm
I have found a copy online, but it appears to be pirated.
It does describe open-firebox clearance requirements, so could be useful in negotiating with inspectors if necessary.

The masonry heater code only mentions flue-channel types and not bells which are becoming a common RMH style, but this should be a minor concern in relative terms.

The Portland RMH code has apparently been adopted, but I have been unable to find a copy of it online. Ernie and Erica Wisner talk about it here: http://www.ernieanderica.info/rocketmassheaterpermitting

A bench-style RMH may be able to be supported on a sound, well-built wood floor in certain conditions, particularly if the bench is spread across a large number of floor joists and is relatively near a supporting wall below. Code will probably require noncombustible support in any case, if you are following it. A bell-style RMH which is taller than wide will definitely need its own foundation.

RMHs with barrels near walls are generally in cob or masonry buildings. Some may be built by amateurs with unsafe clearances. The thermal mass portions should follow masonry heater code, except that there is in reality no need for 8" or more of masonry between heat-exchange flues and exterior surfaces in most places. The proposed RMH code that Bryant linked to gives appropriate clearances.
 
Sky Huddleston
Posts: 78
Location: Missouri
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Hello and thank you all for your time!

Complying with code for a rocket mass heater can be difficult because they are all custom made masonry heaters, not to mention all the problems you've stated such as joists and weight.

I know pellets kind of defeat the purpose, however for anyone that doesn't mind burning pellets my father and I co-started a company that makes NRTL Safety Tested to UL-1482 standards Rocket Heaters with a drop in pellet hopper adapter and outside air intake that allows us to burn a whole bag of pellets for over ten hours. Our heater installs just like a regular wood stove. So if you have weight issues like when your floor can't handle the extreme weight of a traditional rocket mass heater, you'll need to get your heater tested and listed to UL-1482 safety standards by a NRTL (Nationally Recognized Testing Lab). We went through all this for our rocket heaters and it costs tens of thousands of dollars. So thats quite unrealistic for people.

As far as clearances to walls go, a wood stove won't cause the wall to catch fire immediately. It drys the framing/materials over years of use, and then one day it will spontaneously combust. This is why clearances are important.However, you can reduce your clearances by using a thermal wall protector. Which is basically an aluminum heat shield with an air gap that rely's on emissivity.The NFPA has some free documents on that. This also reflects heat back into your room, which is good.

Basically, the only way to follow codes for a Rocket Heater without mass is to get a Rocket Heater thats NRTL Listed to UL-1482. I honestly wish this weren't the case and I have moved to an area without building or zoning codes to escape the insanity of the bureaucrats.
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