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Hearth & Home November 2014

Accentra 52i by Harman Stoves.

Pellet Chimney Leads the Way

By Bill Sendelback

Sales of venting products are up across the board, while more manufacturers are now concentrating on the commercial and industrial markets.

That a rising tide lifts all boats is a fitting aphorism for the venting industry this year. With the swell of an improving economy and resurging new home construction, hearth appliance sales are on the upswing and, as usual, are strongly lifting sales of venting products.

All venting manufacturers report very strong sales in all venting categories. Pellet chimney is leading the way, forecasting a strong year for pellet stoves.

Polypropylene venting for very high efficiency gas appliances, such as many of today’s furnaces and condensing boilers, was introduced to North America by DuraVent when, in August, 2010, it was purchased by European venting giant M&G Holdings BV. Now at least three other venting manufacturers have introduced polypropylene venting for this growing HVAC market. Plus more manufacturers have shifted their focus from residential venting to the fast-growing commercial and industrial markets, such as ventilation for large commercial buildings and even grease duct for restaurants.

Dalsin Pre Insulated Chimney Liner for wood-burning inserts by Bernard Dalsin.

Bernard Dalsin Mfg./BDM is really “swamped” with orders for its venting products, according to Joe Burns, Sales and Marketing manager. Like most venting manufacturers, its pellet products show the largest sales gains, but sales of its wood and gas venting items also are very strong, with fireplace insert venting kits up 35 percent.

New from BDM is its Dalsin Pre Insulated chimney liner for wood-burning inserts. BDM’s flex liner is covered with a half-inch insulated blanket, in turn covered by an outer flex liner, all factory assembled, to improve chimney draft by maintaining heat in the flue. BDM also has introduced a patented Pro-Form direct-vent insert termination cap designed to have a more traditional appearance atop a masonry chimney.

After a strong summer, Enervex sales are up “mid teen” percentages, says John Altiere, Residential National Sales manager.  

“Our EcoDamper automated damper for gas hearth appliances has been a bit of a surprise for us,” he says. Its sales have doubled already this year, surpassing 2013 sales by June.  

RSHT Fan by Enervex.

New from Enervex is its HT Fan, a high temperature venting fan for wood- burning appliances. Similar to the company’s RS Fan, the HT Fan is made of stainless steel and designed to take 1,000 degree F. continuous temperatures, while the RS Fan is limited to 482 degrees F. flue temperatures.

ICC/Industrial Chimney Company has been “fine tuning” its hearth venting products, but is broadening its line of commercial and industrial venting products, says vice president Ray Bonar.  

“Even though we’re going all out to keep up with sales demand,” he says, “I have questions about the future of the hearth industry over the next five years. The uncertainty of the NSPS and the DOE actions leave questions for our whole industry and will certainly affect all of us. Changing energy codes will probably make future venting more like industrial products.”

“This is one of those pellet years we have every four or five years,” says Todd Lampey, vice president of Distributor Sales for M&G DuraVent. “We’re working 24/7, and our pellet-vent sales have doubled over the last year, in part because of the rising prices of propane.” DuraVent’s all-fuel chimney and gas vent sales are also up by “double digits,” according to Lampey.

PolyPro polyethylene venting by DuraVent.

New from DuraVent is its Dual Exhaust product, designed more for the HVAC market when retrofitting today’s 90 percent high-efficiency gas furnaces. DuraVent’s PolyPro polyethylene venting is used from the appliance to a “Y” or a “T” connecting both the high-efficiency furnace and a gas water heater to a common through-the-roof vent. AL-29-4C flex, installed in the common B-vent, then connects the Poly Pro to the roof vent while the gas water heater vents through the same B-vent, outside of the AL-29-4C flex.  

The concept makes for easier retrofit installation and allows condensation from the high-efficiency furnace to drain back into the appliance. DuraVent also plans to introduce a new direct-vent for pellet appliances at the 2015 HPBExpo in Nashville and offer new direct-vent terminations later in 2015.

“We’ve been very busy with  this resurgence in hearth venting,” says Scott Schmelzer, director of Residential Sales for Metal-Fab, “but we saw it coming, so we built up inventory to still be able to ship in one or two days.”  

Besides also entering the commercial and industrial venting markets, Metal-Fab has introduced its new air-cooled Temp Guard chimney for wood-burning fireplaces – not wood-burning stoves. Tested and listed to 1,700 degrees F., Temp Guard is available in diameters from eight to 16 in.

Premium Biomass Vent by Metal-Fab.

Just in time for the sales surge in pellet chimney, Metal-Fab also has introduced its Premium Biomass Vent with completely welded seams, 444 stainless-steel liner, gasketed joints and three and four in. diameters.

Olympia Chimney Supply, too, says it’s “very, very busy” this year, especially for its pellet chimney, according to company founder Will Kozlanski. New from Olympia is its Co-Linear Kits in its direct-vent gas line, offering 430 stainless-steel flex to vent direct-vent gas fireplace inserts through existing chimneys. The company also is offering colored powder-coating for its Class A chimney and direct-vent caps and covers to more closely match the color of the roof or home.

Since its sale by Lennox to M&G DuraVent, Security Chimneys International has seen a “big spike” in its sales of pellet chimney, says Eric Dufour, director of R&D and Marketing. The company is now concentrating on its venting products since its BIS fireplace line was sold to IHP/Innovative Hearth Products. Continuing to keep the Security line entirely separate from that of DuraVent, the company is seeing commercial venting sales grow better than expected, now amounting to almost half of its sales.  

“The residential venting market really is not growing,” says Dufour, “but we know how to do pipe, so commercial venting is a natural for us, especially with the growth in sales of 90-plus percent condensing boilers.”

Also taking advantage of the growth in pellet sales, Security has introduced its new Secure Pellet with laser-welded seams, silicone-gasketed twist-lock joints, 444 stainless-steel liner and one in. clearance to combustibles. Available in three and four in. diameters, Secure Pellet also comes painted black.

Sales of venting for high-efficiency residential and commercial gas appliances are both up by double digits at Z-Flex, according to Mike Brunt, vice president of sales. New from Z-Flex is its Z-DENS polypropylene venting system for high efficiency condensing gas and oil appliances. The Z-DENS line includes single-wall, flexible and concentric products.

If the sales of venting products are any indication, hearth appliance sales could overwhelm both dealers and manufacturers. Let’s hope so.

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