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Insurance company OK's my RMH-style heater!  RSS feed

 
Posts: 161
Location: S. Ontario, Canada
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Last fall, I installed my steel-cored, air-cooled RMH in our rental home.  The owner had years ago given me permission to have a wood stove to heat the house.  His secretary called about a month ago to say that an inspector from the insurance company would be coming around to inspect the heating systems in all their rental homes as it had been over 10 years since they did it last time.  I thought, "Oh, Oh! My rocket is going to have to go!"  I almost dismantled it to bring back in the old wood stove. But then I thought, "No, I'll keep it here, bring in the woodstove (to show them I'm ready to replace it if necessary), but ask them how this RMH would violate their regulations."

When the insurance inspector arrived, I told him that I had a "very unconventional heating system" which wouldn't likely meet their specs. I showed him the woodstove that I was ready to reinstall. I also told him I never would have brought in the RMH if I hadn't felt it was much safer than the woodstove ever was.

The RMH was fired up and "rocketing away" and I showed him pics of the whole assembly process.

I was amazed to see how he was intrigued and genuinely interested! He took lots of pics and asked me to email mine to him. He'd been an insurance inspector for 9 years and a fireman for over 20 years before that and said he'd never seen a heating system like this before!  "As far as I'm concerned", he said, "your rocket is not a fire hazard at all!"  He just asked that I move my flue to the chimney over so that it was not so close to some wood trim.  I said, "I'll be glad to do that if you'd consider letting me keep the rocket!  He said that the ultimate decision would not be his, but he would explain my system to the best of his ability to the "powers that be" and "go to bat" for me.  "As far as I'm concerned, you can keep the rocket for now." he said.

It has taken a few weeks but I got their final verdict today...I can keep the Rocket mass heater and take the wood stove out of the house for good. They just want me to put a grate/rail/fence around the front of the rocket on the hearth to keep little children from touching the hot parts of the burn tube! Amazing! But what a relief!
 
Posts: 145
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I see you are in S. Ontario . .  
Who is your insurance provider . . .  ?

I am planning on going to my insurance and ask for an inspection . . .  since I have to move the shed, if they don't like the stove I will dismantle it  . . just like you were going to do . . If they do accept it, I will attempt too move it with the stove. . .

Or you can send me a message . ..
 
steward
Posts: 2122
Location: Sunshine Coast, BC
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This is very exciting and makes me hopeful! We live in BC, and I've been trying to convince the man that we need a RMH in our drafty old house. I hope that we have the success you did! Thanks for sharing this.

Cheers
Tracy
 
Bruce Woodford
Posts: 161
Location: S. Ontario, Canada
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Dave Lot wrote:I see you are in S. Ontario . .  
Who is your insurance provider . . .  ?

I am planning on going to my insurance and ask for an inspection . . .  since I have to move the shed, if they don't like the stove I will dismantle it  . . just like you were going to do . . If they do accept it, I will attempt too move it with the stove. . .

Or you can send me a message . ..



Dave, Not sure how to message you. But you can email me at ...@gmail.com
 
Dave Lot
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At the top of the screen, is a heading " My Purple Mooseages" . . . click on that.

I sent ya a message.
 
pollinator
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Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
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Congratulations Bruce.  Very interesting news.
 
Bruce Woodford
Posts: 161
Location: S. Ontario, Canada
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Joel Bercardin wrote:Congratulations Bruce.  Very interesting news.



Thanks Joel! Great to see a few fellow Canadians on this forum!  The inspector for the insurance company had never seen a rocket mass heater in all his 9 years of working for the insurance company and he was really intrigued! I wonder if many have NOT built them simply out of fear of insurance companies. Maybe we all ought to just go ahead and build 'em and whenever they show up for inspections just demonstrate, as I did, that they are a lot safer than a woodstove! Then maybe we would see regulations changing!  Makes me think of the statement, "BE the change that you want to see in the world."  They certainly won't change regulations over "theories", but if they see demonstrated practically that RMH's will actually greatly reduce the risk of fires in their client's homes, they might actually actively promote their construction!  I say to others who have considered building but have decided against it out of fear of their insurance company, "Go ahead, build one, use it see for yourself and then call the insurance company in for a demonstration!  Don't be antagonistic and show them you are willing to return to your previous system IF THEY WANT YOU TO!  When they see for themselves that the fire risk is greatly reduced, there is no way they will send you back to a greater risk!  That would just be plain stupid for them from their own business perspective of risk reduction and management!"
 
Posts: 38
Location: Missouri
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About a hear ago, I discussed the concept of a RMH with my insurance agent. He had never heard of one either, but was not concerned about it. He said he they had seen a number of really bad setups as far as home installs, home built barrel stoves, etc. that what I was describing did not sound too bad. What they would do is inspect it to make sure it was installed with the proper clearances to combustibles, etc and that included the flues. Get that right and he would have no issue with it. Encouraging.
 
Posts: 17
Location: Zone 5b Ontario
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This is great news Bruce. It gives me hope that I could do the same at some point.
 
Bruce Woodford
Posts: 161
Location: S. Ontario, Canada
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Eugene Howard wrote:About a hear ago, I discussed the concept of a RMH with my insurance agent. He had never heard of one either, but was not concerned about it. He said he they had seen a number of really bad setups as far as home installs, home built barrel stoves, etc. that what I was describing did not sound too bad. What they would do is inspect it to make sure it was installed with the proper clearances to combustibles, etc and that included the flues. Get that right and he would have no issue with it. Encouraging.



Eugene, hope you've gone ahead, built your RMH using common sense and following building codes as best as you can.  Then it should be no problem for the insurance guys!
 
Bruce Woodford
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Location: S. Ontario, Canada
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Dave Gamper wrote:This is great news Bruce. It gives me hope that I could do the same at some point.



Go ahead, Dave. Build your RMH wisely, to codes that you know. Don't let uncertainty about what the insurance co MIGHT say keep you back!
 
gardener
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Location: Upstate NY, zone 5
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There are no codes anywhere that I know of that specifically apply to RMHs (aside from Portland, Oregon), but there are codes for masonry heaters. The ones I have seen can't be directly converted to RMH construction due to built-in assumptions like a horizontally fed firebox with a door, and contraflow channels (bells are not mentioned). But building to masonry heater code where possible, and to wood stove clearance code for the barrel if present, will allow any sympathetic inspector to work with you without significantly compromising their rules.
 
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Location: Canada
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Eugene Howard wrote:About a hear ago, I discussed the concept of a RMH with my insurance agent. He had never heard of one either, but was not concerned about it. He said he they had seen a number of really bad setups as far as home installs, home built barrel stoves, etc. that what I was describing did not sound too bad. What they would do is inspect it to make sure it was installed with the proper clearances to combustibles, etc and that included the flues. Get that right and he would have no issue with it. Encouraging.



That's good to know I have a rough plan to build a large garage/shop and heat it with passive Solar and a rocket mass heater. Sounds like insurance companies might be reasonable.
 
Bruce Woodford
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Location: S. Ontario, Canada
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Glenn Herbert wrote:There are no codes anywhere that I know of that specifically apply to RMHs (aside from Portland, Oregon), but there are codes for masonry heaters. The ones I have seen can't be directly converted to RMH construction due to built-in assumptions like a horizontally fed firebox with a door, and contraflow channels (bells are not mentioned). But building to masonry heater code where possible, and to wood stove clearance code for the barrel if present, will allow any sympathetic inspector to work with you without significantly compromising their rules.



Hi Glenn, This is what I meant by "existing codes".  I know that in most places (other than Portland) RMH's are an "unknown animal" and therefore no codes for them exist! So building codes for woodstoves and masonry heaters etc would be the guide.
 
Posts: 60
Location: 48°N in Normandie, France. USDA 8-9 Koppen Cfb
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Great thread!

Just to add that our AXA insurance man here in France took a look at ours and said he was happy to class it as a wood burner. He too had never seen one and was fascinated with the explanation of how it worked, and pored over the build photos. We'd already decided that we'd rather have the Rocket than insurance, if it came to a choice, but are really pleased it's been given the thumbs up.
 
Bruce Woodford
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Location: S. Ontario, Canada
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lesley verbrugge wrote:Great thread!

Just to add that our AXA insurance man here in France took a look at ours and said he was happy to class it as a wood burner. He too had never seen one and was fascinated with the explanation of how it worked, and pored over the build photos. We'd already decided that we'd rather have the Rocket than insurance, if it came to a choice, but are really pleased it's been given the thumbs up.



Leslie, that's great news  that I hope will encourage RMH builders everywhere! Thanks for sharing.
 
Dave Lot
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Well guys, I just finished sending 4 seperate emails - with lots of pictures attached - to the insurance agent (or the same company)  that Bruce Woodford supplied to me . .  turns out there is an office not 20 minutes away from me, and they do insure resedential houses.
Unfortunately, after telling him my story, and touching base with his inspectors, he cannot insure my stove (or my house) for me.  The company does not want to be the "goto guy" for every Tom - Dick and Henry who want to slap together a wood stove . .
Like everyone else I have talked too, he was really interested in  how the stove worked, and how effcient it was . . .  and he did ask me too send him construction pictures . . . from there, we will wait and see . . .

For now, the answer is "no."

Thanks anyways there Bruce.  It was worth a try . . .
 
Dave Lot
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Dave Lot wrote:Well guys, I just finished sending 4 seperate emails - with lots of pictures attached - to the insurance agent (or the same company)  that Bruce Woodford supplied to me . .  turns out there is an office not 20 minutes away from me, and they do insure resedential houses.
Unfortunately, after telling him my story, and touching base with his inspectors, he cannot insure my stove (or my house) for me.  The company does not want to be the "goto guy" for every Tom - Dick and Henry who wants to slap together a wood stove . .
Like everyone else I have talked too, he was really interested in  how the stove worked, and how effcient it was . . .  and he did ask me too send him construction pictures . . . from there, we will wait and see . . .

For now, the answer is "no."  But he will continue to look into it for me . . .

Thanks anyways there Bruce.  It was worth a try . . .

 
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