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Warranty on self-installed wood heater?

We’ve just purchased a wood heater for the house, as the old unflued gas heater has died (and we hated the fumes) and the first couple of weeks of June were mostly too cloudy for the solar hydronics heater to be effective, meaning the house was uncomfortably cold in the evenings.

In the Installation Instructions it says: “Your wood heater must be installed by a qualified person whose work conforms with local council regulations, Australian standards ( ASNZS2918:2001) & manufacturers recommendations. Failure to do so will void your warranty and could possibly void and home insurance”

As I understand it, you are allowed to install your own heater, so long as it conforms with the standards, as least that is the impression I get from reading other heater brands’ installation manuals. Our Scandia heater is from Bunnings.

Now I know I’ll have to check with NRMA regarding home and contents insurance, but can they (Bunnings/Scandia) refuse warranty claims if you self-install to the required standards?

I’ll have to buy the standard (over $200!!) to make sure I dont miss any particular requirements not mentioned in the installation guide, but getting someone out here (35km from town) to install it is likely to be over $600, and I know I am perfectly capable of installing the heater and flue to any specifications in the standard, having built the entire house myself (with occasional family help- electrician father) and being competent with tools, general construction etc.

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Hey @gordon,
That’s an interesting one. A company can’t automatically extinguish your consumer guarantees, so under the ACL, if there was a manufacturer fault, you have the right to remedy (depending on the situation, this could mean repair or replacement) regardless of the terms dictated in the warranty. When we shadow shopped electrical retailers in 2015, we found the majority at the time didn’t understand the law when it comes to warranty issues. There’s a case with similar themes with Apple and third party repairers.

However, while you still receive your consumer guarantees, you need to meet your local council regulations or you may find yourself back in trouble. No doubt you’re probably already across this aspect, but since the requirements vary between councils and from state to state, I wanted to make this clear and to encourage any other interested readers to check the details with their local authorities too. According to this info from the Firewood Association (PDF), some councils may allow a licensed tradesperson with the relevant experience (such as a plumber) to sign off on a DIY wood heater install, or I’ve heard they may allow you to perform the install and then do their own inspection.

As you have mentioned, also speak to your insurer. Some may require you to inform them about the installation as part of your duty of disclosure. If you can tick all the boxes and the DIY goes ahead, some photos along the way showing the correct procedures being followed along with some formal wording to go along with any sign offs (if it’s not already provided as part of the process) would no doubt provide you with some extra protection in the event of a manufacturer issue. Good luck getting it sorted :fire:

If anyone else has any experience installing a wood heater, please share it below.

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Maybe a Owner Builder Licence could allow for installation by the owner? In Qld you now have to attend a course run by an approved Registered Training Organisation to get your licence. I think you would still need to have the install certified by a Qualified Trade Person or Engineer.

Oooops this is what I could find more specifically about some work:

Work you can’t do as an owner builder

occupational work such as plumbing, draining, gasfitting or pest control unless you have an occupational licence
fire protection work in excess of $1,100 (unless you have the appropriate licence)
build commercial or industrial buildings (e.g. shops, industrial sheds, farm buildings)
build or renovate multiple dwellings (e.g. duplexes, boarding houses, block of units).
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The council said “I could do what I like” with the plumbing, and I’ve done all the plumbing and draining myself. They were happy with what I did with the greywater system, absorption trench, composting toilet etc. I suspect that being a long way away from any council water and drainage services gives you more of a free hand with these things.

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Insurance update from NRMA:

We can confirm that as long as it is installed in compliance with the council and state guidelines, and installed the way how the manufacturer advice you to install it, we have you fully covered for installing the wood-fired heater and there will be no insurance implications.

Next I’ll speak with the council building dept. about it.

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A lot of councils require a building permit to install a solid fuel heater. If that is the case I doubt the insurance would cover any related incidents if the permit had not been obtained.

Indeed:

I assume that means you have obtained any required permits etc. I did not specify a heater when submitting plans, so this doesn’t apply:

NSW govt legislation:
Approval for installation of domestic oil or solid fuel heating appliance not required in certain circumstances

A domestic oil or solid fuel heating appliance (other than a portable appliance) may
be installed without the prior approval of the council if details of the appliance are included
in plans and specifications for the relevant building approved under Part 4A of the
Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

You know what they say about ‘assuming’.

I would view that as requiring a seperate building permit for a solid fuel heater as one was not included in the originally approved building plans.

Yes, I know what they say :wink: I’ll be talking to council on Monday because I did not include a heater in my plans and do not yet have a permit.

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