If you sell or plan to sell or lease outdoor hydronic heaters, this page provides much of the information you need to know to ensure that you are complying with Section 5-204 of Vermont's Air Pollution Control Regulations (APCR). Section 5-204 of the APCR, affects outdoor hydronic heaters installed after October 1, 1997. Prior to that date outdoor hydronic heaters in Vermont were subject only to a generic regulation regarding public nuisances or odors caused by air pollution sources. The most recent change to the Vermont Outdoor Hydronic Heater regulation, Section 5-204, became effective December 15, 2016.
Section 5-204 Particulate Emission Standards
On February 3, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) strengthened its clean air standards for residential wood heaters to make new heaters significantly cleaner and improve air quality in communities where people burn wood for heat. The updates, which are based on improved wood heater technology, strengthen the emissions standards for new woodstoves, while establishing the first ever federal air standards for several types of previously unregulated new wood heaters, including outdoor and indoor hydronic heaters (formerly referred to as indoor and outdoor wood boilers), and indoor wood-burning forced air furnaces. The rule does not affect existing woodstoves and other wood-burning heaters currently in use in people’s homes.
Section 5-204(d)(1)(i) of the Air Pollution Control Regulations has incorporated many of the dealer requirements found in the new federal regulation. For woodstoves and other room heaters, on or after December 15, 2016 no person shall distribute or sell an affected wood heater unless it has been certified by the EPA as meeting the applicable standards and requirements of 40 C.F.R. §60.532. A list of EPA certified room heaters can be found here. Additional regulations pertain to the proper labeling of room heaters sold in Vermont.
Section 5-204(d)(2)(i) of the Air Pollution Control Regulations reflects many federal changes dealing with central wood heaters, such as outdoor hydronic heaters. Specifically, on or after December 15, 2016 no person shall distribute or sell any central heater unless it has been certified by the EPA as meeting the applicable standards and requirements of 40 C.F.R. §60.5474. A list of EPA certified central heaters can be found here.
Section 5-204 also applies to dealers or manufacturers outside of Vermont that sell both room and central heaters that are destined to be installed in Vermont. The same penalties or other sanctions will apply as for in-state dealers.
Set Back Requirement: Section 5-204 prohibits any Phase I outdoor hydronic heater from being installed within 200 feet of a residence not owned by the outdoor hydronic heater owner or heated by the outdoor hydronic heater. In other words, a Phase I outdoor hydronic heater must be located more than 200 feet from the nearest neighbor's house that is not served by the outdoor hydronic heater. Phase II outdoor hydronic heaters are subject to a set back of 100 feet from nearest residence, school or health care facility. Note that accurately determining this distance is critical. The distance is measured from the nearest point on the residence or structure to the nearest point on the outdoor hydronic heater, excluding any concrete or other pad. An attached garage is considered part of the residence, but if the garage is detached from the house, it is not considered part of the residence. It is best to add a 10 or 15 foot buffer when determining where to install an outdoor hydronic heater. Also, the Division has found that, in many cases, these set backs may not be far enough away to prevent nuisance or excessive smoke exposures to neighbors, even with a tall stack.
Stack Height Requirement: Under Section 5-204, if a neighbor's residence is between 200 and 500 feet from an uncertified outdoor hydronic heates installed after October 1, 1997, the stack on the outdoor hydronic heater must extend higher (in elevation) than the peak of the roof of the tallest structure being served by the outdoor hydronic heater. Note that Phase I and Phase II outdoor hydronic heaterss that comply with the standards set in Section 5-204 (see above) are not required to have taller stacks but we recommend that the stack be tall enough to avoid nuisance to neighbors. Locating the outdoor hydronic heater downhill from the house it is heating may make the stack height requirement much more difficult to meet.
Dealer Responsibility: Under Section 5-204(d) outdoor hydronic heater dealers are required to inform outdoor hydronic heater purchasers of the regulations. This is documented by having purchasers sign a one page "Notice to Buyer of Outdoor Hydronic Heater" form that tells them about the requirements. Dealers are required to send a signed copy of the form to the Air Quality & Climate Division (to the address on the form) before the purchaser takes possession of the outdoor hydronic heater.
IMPORTANT: If a dealer does not inform the purchaser of the rules, obtain their signature on the form and submit the form to the Division, the dealer is in violation of Section 5-204 of the APCR. Such a violation may be considered to be more serious when the outdoor hydronic heater involved has been illegally installed. The Agency has required dealers to buy back improperly installed outdoor hydronic heaters and has fined dealers for not complying with this notification requirement. Please protect yourself by informing the outdoor hydronic heater customer and sending-in the forms as required. Dealers or others who install outdoor hydronic heaters should also be aware that they may be held in violation of Section 5-204 if the installation does not comply with the regulation as discussed above. Carbonless triplicate forms are available from the Air Quality & Climate Division by calling (802) 828-1288.
Beyond The Rules
Be responsible and discuss proper operation of their outdoor hydronic heaters with the purchasers. Encourage outdoor hydronic heater owners to burn only seasoned hardwood in a manner that will minimize smoke emissions. Be aware that some outdoor hydronic heaters cause complaints even when installed in compliance with the regulation as discussed above. It is also very important that the outdoor hydronic heaters be sized properly for the application. Likewise, installations need to be evaluated to ensure that all piping and pumps are sized properly as dictated by plumbing and heating standards. Most importantly, be smart. Read the reports and other information on this website. Some outdoor hydronic heater manufacturers make unsupported and unrealistic claims about the heating efficiency or capacity or other performance characteristics of their units. Don't further misinformation by repeating these claims to potential buyers. Your customers will appreciate your honesty.