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Perhaps one of the single most “expendable” components of a home today is the solid masonry chimney.In new construction they are almost entirely absent----even on very high-end homes.They have given way, to any number of cheaper versions of chimneys----often without any masonry at all.
When inspecting older homes, that do have brick chimneys, they are often in need of repairs----like the one pictured at the left in one of the old Seattle neighborhoods near Volunteer Park.The costs of these repairs often run into the many thousands of dollars.
Because bricks are heavy, these chimneys can be a serious safety hazard as well.No one wants to have a brick bounce off their head when they visit you.
Sometimes converting these old brick chimneys to direct-vent gas burning fireplaces can be an economical thing to do, instead of taking on these costly repairs.While gas fireplaces are not cheap-----if you have to rebuild the top six feet of your chimney----that is not cheap either.It is not possible to construct a wood burning fireplace that will be as efficient as an air-tight, direct-vent, gas fireplace.These gas fireplaces will provide heat and romance.When you are lying on your bear skin rug (a sleeping bag will do) in front of the fireplace with your sweetie, neither one of your back-sides will be cold like they used to get with that old fashioned wood burning fireplace.Old fireplace chimneys sucked tremendous amounts of heat out of the home.You felt warm as long as you faced the fire----but surfaces away from the fire(like your naked butt), or other rooms, became colder----even drafty.
Wood burning chimneys required that the top of the chimney be specific distances away from roof surfaces to protect the roof from fire, therefore, these chimneys could end up being VERY tall.Typically, inspectors will look for the top of the chimney to be 24” higher than any part of the roof10’ away---horizontally.
Gas burning appliances do not have to follow the same rules.Therefore the top part of the brick chimney----which is usually in the worst condition and the most poorly maintained----can be removed down to the roof line----or even below the roof line if the chimney runs up through the center of the house.The old chimney flue is lined with a metal vent pipe and a metal cap is then installed to cover the top. The new metal vent for the gas fireplace (or other gas appliance) then runs through this cap.
Many newer homes avoid the entire masonry structure and vent directly out though the side wall of the house----saving way more money than what it would have cost to build a masonry chimney.Sometimes it is cheaper to take down the whole chimney than it is to rebuild one that is in poor condition (and doesn't everyone need patio bricks?).
As I stated already, gas vents do not have to stick though the roof very far.Most roofs (6/12 pitch and lower) only require that the vent stick through the roof 12”----barely enough to become “unsightly.” This is true whether the vent is for a gas water heater, or a gas furnace or a gas fireplace.
So go ahead and roll out that bear skin rug----or sleeping bag!
Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector
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Click on the Rose to check out: AHA!---A Forum of Landmark Proportions---your Group
PS, for those of you that are new to my blog (or for some other "unexplained" reason have never noticed)all pictures and smiley-face inserts (emoticons) (when I use them) have messages that show up when you point at them with your cursor.
DeCroe, is my "ethereal" home inspector assistant and occasionally flies into my blog and other people's blogs to offer assistance. To find out more about her beginnings just click on Raven.
Buying or Selling - - Call Barbara-Jo for all of your real estate needs! - - 727-512-0910
Ich Spreche Deutsch!!!
Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA
Charles Rutenberg Realty
Serving the Greater Palm Harbor Florida Area,including Crystal Beach, Dunedin & Tarpon Springs Florida
If you are thinking of purchasing in the Palm Harbor, Crystal Beach, Safety Harbor, Dunedin, Tarpon Springs area or along our pristine Gulf Beaches, give me a call! With years of experience in the local real estate market, I am here to assist you in making one of the most important purchases of your life! Give me a call today! Find out for yourself why living along the Gulf Coast is indeed living in Paradise!
Having grown up in south Tampa and lived here in Pinellas County for the last 20+ years, I know the area well!
Give me a call today at 727-512-0910 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to visit my web site: www.barbarajo.com
Ich spreche Deutsch!
Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.