You are here

Complying with the Town Codes

Town codes are confusing, there is no doubt about it. Trying to sift through all the legal speak to figure out what is allowed, what is prohibited, and what is your responsibility is a daunting task at best. Confusion over the legality of woodstoves, fireplaces, and wood burning inserts within the town of Mammoth Lakes is at an all time high, and trying to figure out if you are compliant or not can be a frustrating scenario. So we are here to help...

Lets start with a link...Mammoth Lakes Town Ordinance. That link will take you to the full verbiage of the town code regarding the use of wood burning inserts in the town of Mammoth Lakes. It is chock-full of legal speak, definitions, and appointments of liability. You are welcome to sift through it, and decipher your level of compliance as either a homeowner, new home buyer, or seller in the town of Mammoth Lakes, CA. 

For those of us that either don't have the time, or simply don't have the inclination, to read through 2 pages of Legalese and liability, this should help. I am going to outline the most basic requirements for your home to be compliant with the town code.

Your first concern is EPA compliance. All wood burning appliances in town must comply with EPA Phase II standards. The easiest way to know if your stove is compliant or not is by checking the year of manufacture. Any wood burning appliance manufactured, sold, and installed after 1991 is required to be EPA Phase II compliant. If your stove was installed after 1991, you should be compliant. If you don't know or can't tell whether your stove is compliant or not, give us a call, and we can schedule a Service Tech to come out and make that determination for you.

The next part of the code that people need to be concerned with is the retrofit, which involves wood inserts and the chase through which they are vented. Assuming you have an EPA II compliant insert, you now have 2 options for code compliance:Keep your wood insert and retrofit your walls, or upgrade your wood insert to either pellet or gas insert or a new wood burning fireplace that do not require a retrofit of your wall.

Retrofitting your wall and chase requires us to open up the face, remove all combustible material to 48 inches above the stove and 24 inches to either side of the stove, and replacing those materials with non-combustible cement board and steel framing studs. This will allow you to keep your wood burning insert, and still be compliant with the town code.

Upgrading to pellet or gas inserts does not require a retrofit simply because these appliances do not have the radiant heat that can cause those combustible wall materials to catch fire.

Upgrading to a new wood burning fireplace does not require a retrofit, but will require all new framing to meet the specifications for clearances.

In it's simplest form...that's it. Obviously, each residence has it's own nuances and situations that can only be determined by a visit from a qualified Service Tech or Installer, but generally speaking, this is what you need to know.

To summarize: YES you can keep your wood burning insert, if it is EPA compliant. If it is NOT EPA compliant, you CAN purchase a new wood burning insert, perform the retrofit, and be compliant with the codes. There are no town requirements to upgrade to pellet or gas, though these options are available and will help you maintain code compliance without a retrofit of the wall.

As always, if you have any specific questions, we welcome you to call us, email us, or simply come in to the showroom at 145 Center St. in Mammoth Lakes. We are happy to show you around and discuss your options.

Stay warm, and stay safe!