While I guess I should give the builders credit for trying, one thing that always makes me cringe at a home inspection is when I find a homemade wood stove or fireplace insert. To begin with, in this day of air pollution worries, such a stove which has no engineering or research done on it at all is not likely to be efficient. Will it be safe? What are the safe clearances to flammables? That is hard to impossible to figure as well.
More often than not these homemade stoves or inserts consist of steel welded together by a hobbyist. Sometimes the design or modifications, to remedy unexpected problems, are down right frightening. In the photo below the builder decided that the unit was not receiving adequate combustion air. He put a blower outside under the soffit. A wall switch turns on a fan that blows air back through this ABS pipe (photos) to the inside of the stove.
You read that right --the pipe that is connected to the hot metal at the front of the stove is plastic ABS pipe, such as is used for drains and vents in plumbing. When an inspector sees this sort of thing, strong language must go in the report. An inspector should state that it is a non-conforming device, a safety issue and recommend a complete evaluation of the entire system, including the stove, combustion air, chimney, etc. This should be done before anyone uses the device and this evaluation must be performed by a licensed professional, such as a certified chimney sweep.
Raging fires and carbon monoxide are two issues a home inspector does not wish to, after the fact, be liable for. The builder might have confidence in his concoction but the inspector does not.
Steven L. Smith
Bellingham WA Home Inspections