A.Mike Casey, a licensed plumbing and general contractor and ICC-certified building inspector, responds: When it comes to outdoor cooking areas, the IRC is not too specific about clearances, placement, and ventilation requirements for gas appliances except to advise that installations should follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Code is also a bit confusing regarding vertical clearance to combustibles above broiler and range units. For example, Section M1901 of the 2006 IRC requires 30 inches of vertical clearance for ranges, while Section M1505 requires a metal exhaust hood above an open-top broiler and at least 24 inches of vertical clearance to combustibles. No distinction is made between interior and exterior installations.

Manufacturers may have additional requirements. For example, Viking requires 6 inches of minimum clearance to combustible sidewalls for its built-in gas (propane or natural) outdoor range tops, wok/cookers, and grillers, and specifies that these models can’t be placed “under an overhead that is unprotected and combustible.” In my opinion, this...

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