"Can I use the fire place" asked the buyer. No way in hell I told her.

Home Inspector with Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections 10072923

"Can I use the fire place" asked the buyer. No way in hell I told her.

When inspecting a home a couple ays ago, I ran into a situation I had never been in. I was in the middle of inspecting the home with the buyer in tow.

Not only the buyer and the buyers Husband was there but the buyers agent was there and the seller was there to "take notes so he could repair what ever it was I was to call as an "issue".

When I got to the roof of the home after and exhausting Hour (lots and lots of questions by everyone) inspecting the exterior of the home.

I immediately noticed the two chimneys. Is there two fireplaces as well. I asked the owner is both fire places were used. He said no just this one. Photo on the next shot.

Chimney being used in home.

The chimney was in O.K. shape for the age of the home (1965). There are a few issues as seen in the photo.

The interior was another issue though. Lets take a look at the interior view of the fireplace it's self.

Missing door glass in fireplace face.

The first thing I did notice was th missing glass in the doors of the fire place front.

Then I had a peek to look inside for any other issues. That's when I saw this next shot.

Fire place damper is missing.

The fireplace damper is missing. Not broken, seized up or simply wrong. But completely missing.

If you look closely you can see what looks like a cutting torch was used to remove the damper and the hinges. My guess is that the home owner had the damper seize up and could not get it to work properly. So instead of repairing the damper, they simply cut out the damper with a torch.

I though this "Smooth move Sherlock". :-(

This means the access from the outside of the home has been compromised with the missing damper. Any thing that wants to come into the home can come in through the chimney flue.

The owner has a lot of repairs to do now.

Have a great weekend every one.


Posted by


Clint  McKie

Owner of Desert Sun Home Inspections Carlsbad, New Mexico. Eddy County's only certified home inspection service WITH OVER 30 YEARS EXPERIENCE. Serving all of South East New Mexico. We inspect the homes entire structure from the roof to the foundation, and everything in between. Most reports within 4-24 hours from time of inspection completion. We issue a PDF report with pictures Starting at $250.00 for each home inspection. Why settle for less when you can have the best?

Also included is a Appliance recallcheck and a 90 day warranty with all full home inspections.

When it comes to Quality home inspections. Simply put, we are the best.

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Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Clint, Anita is right on point! The money was on the fact you would not find the damper missing! Good find my friend. Enjoy your day!

Feb 22, 2013 09:55 PM #5
TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc.
Complete Home Inspections, Inc. - Brentwood, TN
Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029

Good Morning, Clint. It is amazing the shortcuts that folks take when constructing houses today. This is the reason that we have a job...

Feb 22, 2013 09:58 PM #6
Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

I am scared to think of the consequences if the buyer had not had a home inspection. It is important to have a home inspection when buying a home.

Feb 22, 2013 10:22 PM #7
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

Thanks for sharing this inspection and your photograph.  More very good reasons for every home buyer to request a professional home inspection.

Feb 22, 2013 11:03 PM #8
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg IL Real Estate

Today's bonehead award goes to this seller. 

Feb 22, 2013 11:17 PM #9
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Hi Clint,

I don't think a lot of people understand the functionality of a fireplace in their home or what they should or should not do. I'm of the opinion their best knowledge is from a campfire outdoors and they have no clue how to maintain or exactly how dangerous or inadequate a fireplace indoors can be to their healthy and safety. Unfortunately many will never know unless there is a fire, accident or a home inspector who points it out.

Good good in educating all of us about this situation.

Feb 23, 2013 12:00 AM #10
Eilean Foster
Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Shore - Egg Harbor City, NJ
Real Estate Agent

Clint, that is just another case of.....if they can't see it, they will never know! 

I don't know about New Mexico, but FULL DISCLOSURE is required in New Jersey!!  I just hope that the seller's Realtor didn't know!

Keep up the good work making sure buyer's are safe!


Eilean Foster
Keller Williams Realty
Atlantic Shore
(609) 602-6699 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (609) 602-6699 end_of_the_skype_highlighting



Feb 23, 2013 12:19 AM #11
Adrian Willanger
206 909-7536 AdrianWillanger-broker.com - Seattle, WA
Profit from my two decades of experience

Clint-It looked like the fireplace and its parts had lots of wear and tear. Thanks for the photos and comments. 



Feb 23, 2013 01:17 AM #12
John Handschuh ABR SRES
RE/MAX Action Realty - Warrington, PA
Bucks County Real Estate

Hello Clint,

I am sure this is not the first time you seen a missing damper, but probally the first cut out with a torch.  Homeowners can be very dangerous. Thank god for good inspectors like you to alert buyers. keep up the good work.



Make it a grate day my friend !!

Feb 23, 2013 04:40 AM #13
Robert Butler
Aspect Inspection - Montreal West Island, QC
Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection

Not only can varmints come in through the flue, lots of heated or air conditioned air leaves that way too. Money up the chimney.

Feb 23, 2013 09:35 AM #14
Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366
Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366 - Placerville, CA
General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage

There seems to be a few things that need to be corrected Clint, hope that they can be remedied.

Feb 23, 2013 12:45 PM #15
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Good thing he was "taking notes!"  But I have to disagree with you on one minor point.  They CAN use that fireplace in hell.

Feb 23, 2013 05:41 PM #16
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia



Feb 23, 2013 05:42 PM #17
James Dray
Fathom Realty - Bentonville, AR
Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results

Morning Clint well I see you finally caught up with Uncle Bob again.  He told me that was done a long time ago and there has not been any issues so leave well enough alone.  :~)

Feb 23, 2013 07:18 PM #18
Conrad Allen
Re/Max Professional Associates - Webster, MA
Webster, Ma, Realtor

Hi Clint.  Air and heat just escaping through that great big hole.  Nice.

Feb 23, 2013 08:31 PM #19
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Why would anyone want their conditioned air going up thre chimney? Stange choice of "repair". 

Feb 23, 2013 10:19 PM #20
Toni Weidman
Sailwinds Realty - Trinity, FL
26 Years Selling Homes in New Port Richey, FL

Oh, that's nasty, Clint. I would worry about what can come in and visit. Good catch.

Feb 23, 2013 10:20 PM #21
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Clint, that does look like an fire waiting to happen.   It is very uncomfortable when the seller is hovering during the inspection!

Feb 24, 2013 12:02 AM #22
Al Raymondi
Ocean View Realty Group in Ormond By The Sea Florida - Ormond Beach, FL
Ormond By The Sea Florida - Home and Condo Sales

Uncle Bob removed the damper, Clint,  to make it easier for Santa. 

Feb 24, 2013 09:05 PM #23
Rob Ernst
Certified Structure Inspector - Reno, NV
Reno, NV-775-410-4286 Inspector & Energy Auditor

Looks like that one needs a little servicing. They owners can look into getting a top mounted damper. We recommend them here often especially when those old metal ones don't seal well.

Feb 25, 2013 12:41 AM #24
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Clint Mckie

Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586
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