Beware of Acucraft Wood-Burning Fireplaces

Not many people know that Underwriters Laboratories certifies manufactured fireplaces.  Underwriters Laboratories is a testing organization that tests and certifies many products for use in residential, commercial and industrial applications.  The UL label is a consumer’s indication that a product has been tested and found safe for use by the consumer.  Specifically, manufactured fireplaces have to meet the requirements of UL 127 before certification is approved by Underwriters Laboratories.  In an effort to safeguard life and property, codes organizations, such as the International Mechanical Code, have incorporated the standard.  Municipalities that adopt the International Mechanical Code use the code as a means to determine if a mechanical installation is safe.

A situation was recently brought to our attention involving an Acucraft manufactured wood-burning fireplace.  The fireplace was purchased for $9000.00 for use in a renovated bonus room.  During the renovation, a structural issue arose that required a building inspector to visit the property.  Upon doing so, it was discovered that a permit for the installation of the fireplace had not been issued by the city.  Upon further inspection, the mechanical code inspector discovered that the fireplace did not meet the code requirement for the fireplace to have been certified according to UL 127.  As a result, work on the project was halted.  The useless fireplace is shown below.

 

Acucraft Uncertified Wood-Burning Fireplace

 

Acucraft was later contacted and verified that their wood-burning fireplaces were NOT subjected to any testing protocol such as UL standard 127.  As a result, the homeowners are left with an expensive fireplace that the local codes department will not approve and therefore cannot be used.  Acucraft wood-burning fireplaces can be seen on their website at www.acucraft.com.  It is understood that Acucraft does not sell its products through a retail network but instead, sells directly to the customer.  Before buying a product, be sure that the product meets applicable code requirements in the local area where it will be installed and that the installing contractor obtains the necessary permit for the installation.

Advertisements

How Can I Help?

A lot of material has been posted on this website in the time that it has been in existence.  Some of that material has elicited comments and questions.  I would like to reiterate that I’m here for just that purpose.  I know that some of you that read this blog have questions about how to handle an incident that has affected you or someone you know.  Many of you have never been through a property claims process and don’t know what to expect.  Times are changing and it’s not like the old days when an adjuster came to your home or business.  Although some companies have not completely automated yet, many have incorporated electronic adjusting.  That is, you send your carrier pictures or other proof of your loss and they will determine how to settle the claim.  In other cases, drones are used to survey vehicular or structural damage.  Some things haven’t changed, like fires, water losses, and automobile accidents.  Property damage and personal injury are still going to occur.  And some of those things are going to be caused by defective products.  That’s where I come in.  If you have any questions about claims, defective products, investigations or engineering in general, please let know.  You can contact me via the comment section on this website or email me directly at rjhill@rjhill.com.

 

State Farm Accused of Influence Pedaling

On May 25, the Huntington News reported that State Farm Insurance Company had attempted to influence the Illinois Supreme Court.  State Farm spent $4 million to get a judge elected so it could evade paying $1.05 billion to 4.7 million policyholders.  State Farm had authorized the repair of vehicles using non-factory authorized and non-original equipment manufacturer parts which resulted in a class action lawsuit.  However, it an attempt to evade paying the judgment, State Farm formed an elaborate network of contributors and funneled the $4 million to a judge’s campaign which was in violation of RICO statutes.  State Farm’s trial is scheduled for September 18th, later this year.  The full text of the Huntington News article can be found at http://www.huntingtonnews.net/157148.  The article also points out that State Farm failed to compensate policyholders in 48 states (except Arkansas and Tennessee) for “breach of contract” in using substandard parts.  This means that policyholders all over the country are affected, not just residents of Illinois.  Policyholders are encouraged to visit http://www.halevstatefarmclassaction.com/home/documents and review the documents.  Because of this situation, policyholders are supposed to receive a notice by postcard of the trial.  This is the policyholder’s notice of the possibility to recover damages if their vehicle was repaired with non-approved parts.  A copy of the postcard is part of the documentation contained in the Hale v State Farm website.

Holiday Greetings

R.J. Hill Consulting would like to wish everyone a very

Happy Holiday Season!

 

Are You Ready to Deal With Robots?

 

Attention adjusters and underwriters! The time is coming when claims will be handled by a robot.  If that isn’t scary enough, maybe it’s time to start worrying about your jobs.  According to a June 6, 2017 article in the Claims Journal entitled “Move Over Adjusters and Underwriters, the Bots are Coming”, robots are handling small claims in order to free up claims people for the more complex claims.  As far as jobs are concerned, the industry experts say there is no need to worry.  However secure jobs might be now, there is always that possibility that robots will do well enough to be implemented on a larger scale requiring a reduction in the human workforce.  We all know that reducing expenses means an increase in profit and that’s a pretty good incentive for corporate management to begin reducing the workforce.  The article also discusses using robots to handle auto claims.  Specifically, the “bot” would access information from vehicles equipped with electronic control units and download accident information as soon as an accident occurs.  Such a set up already threatens those that do accident reconstruction work.  With the implementation of smart building systems in homes and commercial buildings, any detection of a fault in a major system would be “sensed” and recorded.  So, where’s the incentive to hire a fire investigation company if the fire has already been determined to have been accidental?  All these scenarios might be speculative at this point but, with the speed at which technology changes and the rate at which it is being implemented, these scenarios might be coming sooner that anyone thinks.  Food for thought?

 

 

Scott Hill, BSME, MSME, EIT

On behalf of my wife and myself, we are proud to announce that our son, Scott Hill, has received the Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Tennessee Technological University. While at Tennessee Tech, Scott was active in the Maker space where he supervised the use of machine shop equipment and assisted undergraduate students with the construction of their class assigned projects. Scott was also instrumental in procuring and teaching students how to use 3D printing machines. Moreover, Scott has been involved in the development of drone technology by promoting drone design and entering drone flying competitions. Scott also earned his B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Tennessee Tech in 2015; graduated Magna Cum Laude and In Curso Honorum.  During his undergraduate years, Scott was active in various student engineering organizations such as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Autonomous Robotics Club. Earlier this year, Scott took and passed the Fundamentals of Engineering Examination administered by the State of Tennessee, the first step toward professional licensure. Now, legally recognized by the state of Tennessee as an engineer-in-training, Scott will be going to work for SCI Incorporated as a Mechanical Design Engineer in Huntsville Alabama.

Roofs Shouldn’t Look Like This!

Anyone who has lived in a home with a shingled roof knows that at some point in time, the roof will have to be replaced. Whether the home is a manufactured (mobile) home or a permanent structure, all of the elements play a significant role in the wear and tear of the shingles.  When it’s time to select a roofing contractor, be careful! Make sure that you’re dealing with a reputable company.  Ask for references if necessary and check them out.  Don’t ever give anyone any money up front because in all likelihood, you’ll never see them again.  The photos shown below are just two examples of what a newly installed roof should never look like.  The first photo shows how wavy a roof can appear if there is a problem with the roof decking.  The decking must be repaired or replaced BEFORE the felt and shingles are nailed down.  The second photo shows caulking that was applied to valleys alongside a gable because someone recognized a problem, usually water leakage.  Using caulking on a newly installed roof is never acceptable.  If the roofers didn’t install the valley shingles correctly the first time, the roofer should have to redo the work again.  However, getting the roofing contractor to tear off the shingles and then reinstall new ones might be easier said than done.  It is possible that a roofer would rather apply a caulking or some type of mastic beneath the shingle rather than re-shingle the area.  If this seems like an acceptable solution, again, be careful.  If a leak occurs in the future, getting the roofer to fix it under warranty will be next to impossible.  One way to test a new roof is to spray water on the roof with a garden hose then check the attic for signs of water leakage.  Don’t wait until it rains.  The sooner a leak is detected, the easier it will be to hold the roofer responsible if an adversarial situation arises.

dsc04685

Note wavy Roof

dsc04702

Caulking used on valleys

%d bloggers like this: