Boy, if there is one debate that's hot, its this one.
This is clearly more than just chocolate vs. vanilla--get's getting to be as controversial as abortion!
I think everyone will agree the bulk of the problems with VF have come from:
-unit sold into an unsuitable application
-lack of maintenance
Not everyone previews the home before they sell hearth applianeces--ANY hearth appliance. Maybe we should...
We base our selling off information provided not by a trained hearth professional but the uninformed lay public who btw, will alter the info. they provide you with just to steer a sale. This is akin to a doctor relying on the patient to tell him what to treat. We as an industry need to do a MUCH better job at qualifying prospects, matching their expectations with hearth appliances that will legally fit what they have.
For instance, one of the biggest areas this industry falls down is selling hearth appliances into masonry fireplaces and chimneys. Unfortunately, there are still way too many shops that will stuff anything you want into any kind of chimney even without an NFPA Level II inspection. Wood insert stoves go in without liners. Even when they are lined, they rarely have the requisite insulation/ clearance to meet the UL 1777 listing. Vented logs are sold as a remedy for fireplaces and chimneys that are otherwise too scary for solid fuel. Yet, the gas codes, mfr. and listing tell us this is wrong.
Are we so hell bent on the sale, we'd overlook these matters at the expense of a homeowner's well being? It's time this industry took a hard look at themselves.
We have an inventory of products that are much safer yet far more realistic and aesthetically pleasing that what we sold 10-20 yrs ago. Now we must go about getting better at matching up the better appliance for the application and expection with the home. Sometimes this may mean selling a VF. Sometimes it may mean to walk away and just say No! My company's only VF is electric but I still recognize that inspite of the logic against it, inspite of the building science community's universal condemming of VF, inspite of a lot of other strikes against them, they have a rather good safety track record as far as current data sources tell us. Maybe there are many more problems we just don't hear about and have no way of tracking such as ill health as opposed to mortality/ morbidity figures from the gov't. However, until then, VF legally will continue to be sold.
Off my soapbox...