Ignorance May Be Bliss, But Not Forever

By
Home Inspector with Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC 3380-000723

Sometimes things go by the wayside, not because they aren't taken care of but because people don't realize they are happening.

This is the exhaust flue for a gas fireplace.

It is the one on the side of my house!

It has been there about 10 years.

There is no damage to the siding, no charring on or around the mechanism and it is installed properly.

This was discovered on a recent inspection.

I have to say, there are very seldom problems with this kind of gas fireplace flue.

But this one certainly has problems.  It is a fire hazard.

It has been there only 6 years.

There was charring inside the fireplace on the ceramic gas logs, charring on the angled cover you see here, and charring on the areas above the flue.

Heat is not sent away properly either - you can see melting of the vinyl siding and the vinyl soffit cover above.

THIS IS A FIRE WAITING TO HAPPEN!  And it may be only one use of the fireplace away!

The exact problem isn't known, but it needs to be seen by a professional right away.

The Realtor mentioned to the seller not to use the fireplace and showed him why.  He had not noticed this problem before!

And it's obviously been there a while.

My recommendation:  it's a good idea to walk around your house a few times a year to see what it's telling you!  There may be something going on you weren't aware of!

 

 

Posted by

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


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Rainmaker
1,594,617
Bob "RealMan" Timm
Ward County Notary Services - Minot, ND
Owner of Ward Co. Notary Services, retired Realtor

Thanks for pointing out the potential fire hazard her. I hate to say that nothing surprises me anymore but thanks to your teaching "nothing does surprise me anymore.

Feb 19, 2011 01:39 AM #19
Rainer
171,130
Robert Butler
Aspect Inspection - Montreal West Island, QC
Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection

All too commonly, commons sense is increasingly rare. If you don't look, you can't see. How obvious is that.

Edit; there are mandated fire and building code clearances that I suspect have not been observed. The charring or soot present is a second problem, likely air to fuel carburetor settings.

Feb 19, 2011 02:12 AM #20
Ambassador
1,333,850
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Jay, some manufacturers say that when the unit starts to produce carbon like that it actually ruins the unit and it has to be replaced.

Feb 19, 2011 03:18 AM #21
Rainmaker
1,843,565
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Susan - that's the idea!  When I say ignorance, I don't mean stupid, just unaware!

Thanks again Ken!  There are a million things to think about on a house.

This really is a fire hazard Bob.

Feb 19, 2011 05:22 AM #22
Rainmaker
1,843,565
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Robert - in this case, the design and final product was approved by the County.  I don't know what clearances this County mandates, but this one is about 18".  I do inspections in 19 different local jurisdictions and they are all different in so many ways - I cannot keep up with it all.

Charlie - I agree.  What I say is that the unit needs to be investigated professionally, and in this case the discharge tubing as well!

Feb 19, 2011 05:24 AM #23
Rainer
171,130
Robert Butler
Aspect Inspection - Montreal West Island, QC
Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection

Yeah Jay, every place is different, all you can really do is pick out the below average ones. Usually the clearances above the vent are greater, that's just physics. This equipment is meant to have a 'cool' exhaust. Obviously not the case in this instance.

Feb 19, 2011 06:11 AM #24
Rainmaker
1,843,565
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

It usually is cool Robert.  This experience, seeing this anyway, is very rare for me.  Something was disconnected inside I think.

Feb 19, 2011 08:50 AM #25
Rainer
16,128
Johnathan R. Therriault
JTHIS-Professional Home Inspection Team - Blakeslee, PA
Inspecting the Pocono's, one house at a time.

Good catch, I wonder if the unit it is attached to is malfunctioning and causing what we’re seeing here.

Feb 19, 2011 12:07 PM #26
Rainmaker
1,843,565
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

There's certainly something going on inside that we can't see, Jonathan, and for sure we don't go about taking things apart on a home inspection!

Feb 19, 2011 10:01 PM #27
Ambassador
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Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional
Charles Rutenberg Realty - Clearwater, FL
Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor

Wonderful advice, as usual! Fireplaces can indeed be dangerous if not checked on an annual basis! I had a wood burning fireplace in my last house and (thank heaven) had it checked before we used it the first time. We were told it needed some work, which we had taken care of. Nothing can replace a good inspection!

Feb 20, 2011 03:38 AM #28
Rainmaker
684,209
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

If the unit is smoking like that one, there is definetly a problem with the installation. 

Feb 20, 2011 04:21 AM #29
Rainmaker
226,377
Suesan Jenifer Therriault
JTHIS-Professional Home Inspection Team - Blakeslee, PA
"Inspecting every purchase as if it were my own".

Something has definitely gone wrong there and don’t worry, Jon understand we don’t fix/break anything during a home inspection. There are people who get paid to do that and it's not us. LOL

Feb 20, 2011 04:35 AM #30
Rainmaker
1,244,530
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Mr Jay,

I think that you and me both direct vent quite a bit when old Mr Charles says something mean and dumb about us or our immediately's family members.

Nutsy

Feb 20, 2011 05:34 AM #31
Rainmaker
1,843,565
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Barbara-Jo - it is likely that most homeowners don't have things like that checked regularly, if at all!

Jim - almost certainly, but I didn't look inside.  I suspect a break or separation in the vent tubing.  Maybe even from day one!

Sue - we sure try not to break anything!  Can't say my record is 100%!

Nutsy - since we are carbon, we have no way of venting anything that is not.  Well, now that I think about it, you probably vent your share of methane...  and that family of yours probably vents a lot!

Feb 20, 2011 06:08 AM #32
Rainmaker
233,461
Reuben Saltzman
Structure Tech Home Inspections - Minneapolis, MN
Delivering the Unbiased Truth.

Here in MN, that soffit would end up completely covered in ice and frost, and there would be a huge mess of frost in the attic from this as well.

Feb 20, 2011 01:29 PM #33
Rainmaker
1,843,565
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Reuben - that's got to be true!  The attic is two floors above this!  Ice there would be a sight!

Feb 20, 2011 09:29 PM #34
Rainmaker
579,727
Chris Smith
Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage - New Tecumseth, ON
South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta

Thanks for the advice, Jay, and for the great illustration.  It will be something that I look out for.  With more and more retrofit gas fireplaces being added, things like this, can "happen"...

Feb 21, 2011 11:42 PM #35
Rainmaker
1,843,565
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

There are a lot of retrofits Chris, I think because wood burning is so difficult to maintain.

Feb 21, 2011 11:44 PM #36
Rainmaker
251,250
Joel Weihe
Realty World Alliance - Wichita, KS
Helping you to use your VA home loan benefits

I am always amazed how few homeowners have been around their house.  Sometimes we see things when listing the property or when our buyer/inspector is looking and the seller really honestly has no clue because they haven't looked on that side of the house in years.  Scary!

Feb 26, 2011 05:03 AM #37
Rainmaker
1,843,565
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Sheree - I find that homeowner ignorance is very common.  So I am usually not surprised when a homeowner is informed of something they don't know about at all!

Feb 26, 2011 07:41 AM #38
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Rainmaker
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Jay Markanich

Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
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