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Nice way to disguise ugly vent pipes - not painted yet

28W Member Posts: 141
The local gas inspector vetoed the coaxial vent pipe and insisted on a two-pipe system. My installer put in the new pipes on his own dime, but was not happy with how they looked (they are visible from the street). So he paid for a carpenter to build a slick enclosure. Once I paint it to match the house, it should blend right in.


  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,469

    Your installer is a stand up guy, and should be commended.
  • kcopp
    kcopp Member Posts: 4,166
    yes it is....

    a nice job... BUT why did the AHJ 86 the concentric? If it is approved by the Mfg...whats the problem?
  • 28W
    28W Member Posts: 141
    I'm not certain

    I do know that he wanted the vent a little bit higher (26"), but he also specifically said that it must be a two-pipe system. He has a reputation for being inconsistent. Other homes in my neighborhood have coaxial vents. Maybe somebody else inspected them. In any case, I'm happy with how it turned out.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    AHJ making own rules:

    If you live in Massachusetts, your contractor should have appealed to the Board. The Board has told us more than once at the MA PHCC open board meeting that they do every year that inspectors can NOT make up their own rules. If they do and they are wrong, they will (The Board) will handle it. The inspector is correct in that the height must be 26: above grade based on where you said you live and the rules they gave us in "MY" latest CEO class for period 4. But he has no right to over rule the manufacturers approved instructions. That's why in Massachusetts, we have a "Unified Plumbing Code". That the rules in Edgartown on Martha's Vineyard are the same as in Pittsfield and Worcester, MA. We even have standardized plumbing and gas permit applications so that a specific form is approved for any town and they can not deny you a permit based on a form that some town doesn't like but is approved by the Board.

    And in my opinion, that box around the vent pipes is as ugly as a bucket full of what is under a cow's tail. IMO. the inspector has no legal standing to make the installer, vent it like that and I would question if it meets the manufacturers listed installation manual.

    That's why the Massachusetts Plumbing Inspectors have to do so much more CEU instruction than we mortals do. They are supposed to know more. Sadly, that one doesn't.

    The installer is probably afraid of retribution from the inspector. The inspector should be afraid of retribution from the board. Your installer should have called the manufacturer. They spent a lot of money getting their equipment approved by the board, and approved by US and Canadian AHJ's. They would have liked to know about it.

    As a Massachusetts Master Plumber, I'm sorry for your problem.

    Where I work, if I had made that thing, it would have probably cost $1,000.
  • Bob Harper
    Bob Harper Member Posts: 969
    code weenie

    The Authority Having Jurisdiction or AHJ is the head code official for any municipality. It is his job not only to ensure everything that should be inspected gets inspected but that all his deputies operate within the rules. That means they are "code enforcement" officials---NOT code legislators. Any inspector can only inspect to the codes in force in his jurisdiction. If he doesn't like those codes, he can go through the process to amend them. This means submitting his proposal with supporting documentation for why the change is necessary, how it fits into the existing code, and if there have been any relevant interpretations by the International Code Council, NFPA, UL, ANSI, etc. There must be three public hearings during which citizens and contractors can get up an speak.

    A code enforcement official does not have the power to trump a product listing. Once the code references a listing for a product to be used within their jurisdiction, he cannot trump it such as denying use of a listed assembly. The exception is such as in Mass where the State has gone over and above the regular code and required vent terminations to be at least 4ft above grade or above snow level. This is in excess of the code and product listings but does not negate the use of listed assemblies except you may need to use a snorkel termination to meet this requirement or reconfigure piping within the listing. If there is no conflict with a concentric vent termination such as snow or proximity to a corner, window, etc. then it must be allowed.

    This code official does have a boss you can appeal to. You can also get a ruling from the ICC. Historically, they shoot down AHJs who have tried to exceed their code as written.
  • Henry
    Henry Member Posts: 996

    Your installation does not conform to the manufacturers certified instruction manual. It would be tagged in Canada. As for the AHJ numbnut not accepting coax, if it is in the manual and you meet snow clearance, then appeal.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Mass. Code about vent heights:


    You are wrong about your interpretation of Massachusetts rules of the heights of gas vent terminations. I wrote about this in a prior string from this subject. It was all covered in my PHCC period 4, CU last year, 2011-2012..

    Every sidewall vented instruction I have seen lists a minimum of 1" or .3 meters above grade or snow line. The question becomes where the maximum snow line is. There are places on the Internet that give you statistical information about every town in the country. You look up a town in Massachusetts and look at the snow curve for a year. You look at the maximum snow fall. If it says that the maximum snowfall is in January and it is 17", you add 12" to that and you get 29". That is the minimum height above the grade that you must put the vent termination. If an inspector in Massachusetts wants 48" "because I like to see them there", he can't and has no authority to make someone do so legally. He can't do it, and if you call the manufacturer and complain, I'm sure that they will give the board a call and straighten it out. Manufacturers pay big buckaroos to get their products listed.

    I think that the whole issue is covered in a NFPA rule. Which one, I can't remember. If it is important, I'll find it for you. But the rule in Massachusetts is NOT 48" unless the listed maximum snowfall is 36". And I didn't find any town in the Commonwealth that was that high. Accumulated snowfall isn't covered that I am aware of. 
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Vent termination:

    Where I work, there is a "Historical Commission". They rule on all things aesthetic. You would need a building permit and a ruling of appropriateness for that. They would never approve it. And for sure, they would make you paint the white Sch 40 PVC intake a gray to match the Sch 80 PVC exhaust pipe.

    I refer to it as the Hysterical Commission. Because some of their decisions are based on hysteria and what they had for dinner before the meeting.
  • Bob Harper
    Bob Harper Member Posts: 969
    I stand corrected

    I remember when the issue first came up at the death of 7 y/o Nicole Garofalo due to a snow drift blocking the vent termination on an LPG fired boiler. The Mass Fire Marshals' knee jerk reaction was a series of recommendations to Gov. Romney that including mandating a min. 48" termination under any and all conditions plus additional if snow could be expected to drift. They also wanted UL listed CO alarms interlocked with all fuel controls, which was impossible to do. I worked with a major fireplace mfr. on the impact this would have on our venting tables and it would have made a number of appliances disapproved for installation in Mass. When I heard Gov. Romney signed "Nicole's Law" into effect 5Nov. '05, I thought it included the 4ft rule. Upon further investigation, I see the compromise was the posting of a sign noting a vent termination below where it terminates less than 7' above grade with the admonition to keep clear and not block plus hardwired CO alarms on every floor. I should have double checked before posting.

  • 28W
    28W Member Posts: 141
    Update - painted

    I think it blends right in. From the street, it is nearly invisible. To my eye, much nicer than plastic pipes.
  • Gordan
    Gordan Member Posts: 891
    Well, OK, but...

    I'm surprised that noone else remarked upon this... the exhaust and the intake appear to be at the same height. The intake should be at least a foot below the exhaust. This looks like it would recirculate the exhaust, especially since some vortices are likely at the corners of that enclosure.

    I hope somebody stuffed insulation inside the enclosure, too. Not mandatory but certainly a good thing.
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