Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Is a permit required to install a wood stove in Maryland?

By Melissa Bollman and Diane Peng
Alliance for Green Heat
Updated: Jan. 2019

If you're planning on installing a wood burning appliance, chimney or fireplace in your residence, it’s important to check whether you need a permit first. Beyond the health and safety of you and your family, securing a permit is usually important for your homeowners insurance - and for obtaining a generous rebate from the State of Maryland.

Virtually every Maryland county requires either a building or HVAC permit for a new or replacement stove.   The map below is now outdated so it should not be relied on, but it showed where wood stove permits were required in the state in 2012.  Check with the Maryland Energy Administration site for updated information. They provide permit detail here.

 Regulations change, and your appliance might be an exception to the rule. If you are planning on having a wood stove installed in your Maryland home, the best source of up-to-date accurate information will be your county officials. The easiest way to contact your local permit officer is through this Maryland governmental site that has phone numbers for each county code office.  Page 4 of the application form for a rebate for a new wood or pellet stove has an excellent list of what kind of permit is needed in each country. 

Regardless of whether your county requires a permit, you should always contact your insurance company before installing a stove. If you have an unpermitted stove installation and your stove causes a fire, your insurance company could deny your claim. For more information on this topic and a list of some states that have statewide permitting requirements, check here.

Even if you're not required to obtain a permit, wood burning appliances should always conform to local law and code, and be installed and operated per manufacturer’s specs and code. Counties across America often contain interesting and unforeseen code requirements regarding wood and pellet stoves – and boilers. For instance, Garrett County, Maryland’s western-most county with the highest per capita use of wood for heating, requires stoves to be tested and UL listed by a national laboratory. This would seem to make it unlawful to install many old, second hand stoves that are not UL listed for safety. (In Garrett County, more than 12% of the population uses wood as a primary heating source, 10 times the Maryland state average.)

On a final note, it's recommended having your stove installed through a NFI-certified or CSIA certified  professional. Professional installers should be well versed in local building codes and help ensure a safe and compliant installation. One affordable way to complete a stove installation is to buy the stove through a big box store and buy the install kit and then have a pro install it.  Big box stores sell some good quality stove brands and some not-so-good ones, so do some research first.

Postscript: Maryland provides a $250 - $700 rebate as of January 2019 for qualified wood and pellet stoves, depending on whether its a wood or pellet stove and whether it has a verified efficiency.

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