Jun 8, 2016

Sauna stove installation instructions misinterpreted.

When building an outdoor sauna, you may have the best intentions in mind. You want to do it correctly and legally. You pull a permit, purchase a UL listed stove to be compliant with the city regulations and install it by carefully following the install manual. Then, you request your final inspection and fail it. Why? Because the way you interpreted the installation manual was different than what it was trying to convey. The result? Benches need to be cut short. Flooring needs to be cemented. What is the moral here? Even though you think you understand the install instructions, contact the stove manufacturer prior to installing the stove and building around it to save yourself from redoing your work.


What happened:

Per manufacturer specs, the stove has clearances that need to be followed for safe operation. There’s side clearances of X inches to combustibles. X is the same on both sides. There’s the rear clearance Y and front clearance Z. Both front and rear clearances are different (Y does not equal Z). Where this gets interesting, and not explicitly listed in the install manual, is here. The side clearance X actually extends the whole length of the front clearance Z, on both sides. Furthermore, the “clearance to combustibles” refers not only to the wooden benches at 90 degrees to the plane of the stove, but also refers to the floor (and probably, by the same definition, to the ceiling.) Furthermore, though all the installation pictures showed the front clearance with the arrow pointing to the door of the stove, they actually meant the whole front side. Finally, although my floor was built up from non-combustible cement board and covered with PVC membrane to be waterproof, that thin piece of PVC is considered combustible—and thus non-compliant.

Shaded areas show where the combustibles clearances extend.
Shaded areas show where the combustibles clearances extend. Nothing combustible can be placed in to those areas.

Below is how I built my hot room. Because the bench is within the shaded area and the top of the floor has the PVC membrane, I am non-compliant and failed my final inspection. Now I need to cover the membrane with cement and cut half off my long sauna bench to pass the inspection.

This shows where I went wrong in my build. Part of my long bench encroaches into the no combustibles zone.
This shows where I went wrong in my build. Part of my long bench encroaches into the no combustibles zone. 

Once again, to sum up. When planning out your sauna hot room and chimney/stove installation, be sure to contact the sauna stove manufacturer and verify your understanding of the install documents is exactly what they tried to convey. Also check this with the inspector. In my case, I double checked all the installation steps with my friends and made sure we all understood them the same way. However, I should have also double checked with the stove manufacturer as well.

Finally, be aware that photos used on the stove manufacturer's website showing the sauna stove sitting right next to benches and other combustibles is only for marketing purposes and doesn’t have to be technically to the installation spec. This does not fly with the inspector either.

Sauna stove too close to wooden benches.
Sauna stove too close to wooden benches.


Sauna stove too right next to wooden benches.
Sauna stove too right next to wooden benches.



Sauna stove too right next to wooden duck board.
Sauna stove too right next to wooden duck board.



1 comment:

  1. The instructions were definitely not clear. I guess it means you will need to toss the water a little further now to get steam.

    ReplyDelete

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