Understanding Fireplace Regulations in California

One common inquiry we receive is whether fireplaces are legal to use in California. While having a fireplace is not technically illegal, there are important restrictions to be aware of.

In this article, we’ll provide a comprehensive overview of the rules and regulations governing fireplaces in California, empowering you to make an informed decision about whether a fireplace is suitable for your home.

Are Wood-Burning Fireplaces Permissible in California?

During smoggy days or periods of heavy air pollution, the use of fireplaces is prohibited in California. Residents are advised to refrain from burning wood in their fireplaces from

November to the end of February to minimize fine particle emissions (PM2.5). In the South Coast Air Basin, a 24-hour ban on residential wood-burning applies, encompassing fireplaces, wood stoves, and outdoor fire pits.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District enforces this restriction and imposes penalties on violators.

Wood-burning fireplaces are subject to specific regulations in California. On days with heavy smog or high air pollution levels,

the use of wood-burning fireplaces may be restricted. Residents are advised to check before burning wood in their fireplaces from November through the end of February to minimize fine particle emissions (PM2.5).

In the South Coast Air Basin, which includes areas like Los Angeles, a “No-Burn” day may be declared, which enforces a 24-hour ban on the residential use of wood-burning fireplaces, wood stoves, and outdoor fire pits.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District has implemented this restriction and penalties may be imposed on individuals who use wood-burning fireplaces on days with poor air quality.

It’s important for residents to stay informed about local air quality regulations and to comply with restrictions on the use of wood-burning fireplaces to reduce air pollution and protect public health.

Are Gas Fireplaces Allowed in California?

The installation of vent-free gas fireplaces is illegal throughout California due to the hazardous levels of carbon monoxide they emit.

Any gas fireplace installation within a building in California must incorporate an NFPA-approved chimney or flue of proper size and safe clearance from combustibles. For those considering a vented fireplace in a bedroom or bathroom, specific guidelines must be followed,

including room volume requirements and vent opening dimensions. Additionally, vented gas fireplaces necessitate a fan to expel flue gasses and necessitate inspection by a licensed professional every two years.

Before installing a gas fireplace, it’s imperative to ensure sufficient room space, particularly as California homes often have smaller rooms compared to other regions. Compliance with California law is essential for proper gas line installation.

Are Outdoor Fireplaces Legal in California?

Outdoor fireplaces and similar gas-fueled devices are permissible in California when authorized by the Building Department and strictly intended for burning a gas flame.

The legality of a particular fireplace will be determined by both state and local laws. Outdoor fireplaces using wood, gas, or propane may require permits, depending on local regulations.

Propane fireplaces are generally considered safe and compliant, provided safety measures are observed, including proper clearance from combustibles.

Yes, outdoor fireplaces are permitted in California, but some specific regulations and conditions must be met.

Outdoor fireplaces, fire pits, and similar devices that are fueled by natural gas or liquefied petroleum gas are allowed when authorized by the Building Department, and they must be intended solely for burning a gas flame.

It’s important to note that the legality of an outdoor fireplace in California is determined by both state and local laws. If you plan to install an outdoor fireplace, especially one that burns wood, gas, or propane,

it may require a permit from county authorities. This will depend on whether the activity is considered open burning or not, which can vary by location.

Propane fireplaces are generally considered legal in most areas because propane is a safe and clean fuel source. However, for safety reasons, outdoor fireplaces should never be used indoors, and flammable items should not be placed near them. Additionally, the unit should not be located under an overhang or awning.

Regardless of the type of fireplace, California building codes stipulate that all structures must be built at least three

feet away from any combustible walls, windows, and ceilings to ensure safety. Always consult with local authorities and adhere to all regulations when installing an outdoor fireplace in California.

Can You Include a Fireplace in a New Home Construction in California?

In new homes, only gas-burning fireplaces are permitted. For existing dwellings, if a fireplace is not deemed a hazard by the local fire department, it may remain in place. Gas-burning fireplaces must have direct unobstructed vents for combustion air and proper ventilation.

Yes, you can include a fireplace in new home construction in California. However, it’s important to note that in new homes,

only gas-burning fireplaces are permitted. The installation of a gas-burning fireplace must have a direct unobstructed vent for combustion air and proper ventilation to the outside of the building.

For existing dwellings, if a fireplace is not deemed a hazard by the local fire department, it may be allowed to remain in place. If you already have a fireplace in your existing dwelling,

it is usually not necessary to replace it unless it is determined to be hazardous by the local fire department. It’s advisable to consult with local authorities and adhere to all building and safety codes when incorporating a fireplace into a new home construction in California.

Conclusion

In most California jurisdictions, wood-burning fireplaces are allowable on regular days, but restrictions apply during designated no-burn periods, typically in winter. It’s crucial to adhere to EPA-certified post-combustion fireplace regulations. These measures are in place to safeguard air quality and reduce pollutants released into the atmosphere by fireplaces and wood stoves.

Understanding and adhering to these regulations ensures not only compliance with the law but also the safety and well-being of your household.