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Insist on WETT Insp

Management, Fire Box Inspection Services           

Insist on fireplace inspection when purchasing home

 August 22, 2009

  Report By *Bob Aaron*  Bob Aaron* is a Toronto real estate lawyer.

I was reviewing an offer to purchase a Toronto house last week and was

surprised to see a condition that I had never seen before in an offer on

a city home.

  The clause made the agreement conditional on the buyer obtaining a

satisfactory Wood Energy Technology Transfer (WETT) inspection report

for the fireplace in the house.

  In Canada, Wood Energy Technology Transfer Inc. ( is a

non-profit training and education association. It functions as the

national registrar of the WETT program, promoting the safe and effective

use of wood-burning systems in Canada.

It also maintains a WETT training program to provide training to

installers and inspectors of wood burning systems.

   Typically, a WETT inspection is required for cottages and rural

properties which contain wood-stoves. Many of these stoves are "weekend

jobs" where the homeowner bought and installed a wood-stove without the

involvement of a professional.

  Often these do-it-yourself jobs are either not installed properly, or

the chimney, walls and roof have not been adequately insulated against

the heat of the appliance.

  A WETT inspection clause is rare to non-existent in Toronto.

The offer I was looking at was prepared by Jos Arias, an agent with Sutton

Group-Bayview Realty Inc.

  The WETT clause was inserted on the instructions of his clients,

and Arias emailed me to ask if the clause was necessary or even relevant

for a house where there was a fireplace but no wood-stove.

 Much to the surprise of both of us, it seems that a WETT inspection

is highly recommended for city homes which have wood-burning fireplaces.

  Evonne Brant, association administrator of WETT Inc., in Toronto, says

that purchasers of homes with fireplaces should always insist on an

inspection report by a WETT-certified professional.

  A WETT inspection report details the areas in which the fire-burning

installation meets or does not meet the manufacturer's instructions and

the appropriate building codes.

  A typical building inspection will not be sufficient if the home has a

fireplace or wood-stove. Unless a home inspector has a WETT

certification, a separate inspection of the fireplace by a certified

technician is required.

  The issue is more than certifying the original installation. The WETT

report will also note whether it is still safe to use the fireplace.


  An unsafe fireplace may have a buildup of creosote. This flammable

substance is hard, dark and crust like and is produced during incomplete

combustion of wood, and when it accumulates inside the fireplace or

chimney over time, it can cause a fire.

Report By *Bob Aaron* - August 2009

  • If fireplaces are improperly used and maintained,

they can be dangerous to the homeowner

and could also prevent a buyer from getting home insurance.

  Soot is also a flammable deposit, dark in color but softer than

creosote. Most chimney sweeps recommend cleaning when soot deposits

reach 1/8-inch in depth.

  For safety reasons, fireplaces should always have a glass or mesh screen

to prevent sparks from escaping and igniting an adjacent wood or carpet


  A complete inspection might involve checking whether the chimney has a

cap with wire mesh sides to keep rain, birds, animals, and debris from

entering. The outer mortar between the bricks or stone of the chimney

will be examined to make sure it is intact. The inspector also looks for

cracked tile liners or missing bricks, and dents, rust and missing

screws on metal chimneys.

  All homes with fuel-fired appliances should have both a carbon monoxide

(CO) detector and a smoke detector. This is especially important if the

home has a fireplace or wood-stove, or both.

  If a wood-burning stove or fireplace is not used and maintained

correctly, the results can be disastrous and even fatal.

  • A WETT inspection is an important part of a home purchase, and an

inspection condition should always be inserted into an agreement of

purchase and sale where the home has a fireplace or a woodstove.

 *Update: *Last week's column was about a court case where two home

buyers recovered $110,700 in damages against the sellers for negligent

misrepresentation in a Seller's Property Information Statement. The

sellers have now served a notice of appeal on the buyers. The saga


 *Bob Aaron* is a Toronto real estate lawyer. He can be reached

  by email at <>, phone 416-364-9366

  or fax  416-364-3818.

  Visit the Toronto Star column archives at

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