Question: I have a wood burning fireplace in my basement. Two years ago I had it inspected, they cleaned the chimney and did some repairs to the other fireplaces in the house and told me that they were in good condition. The fireplace in the basement is in a unit that I rent out. The unit is now vacant and upon doing my inspection I noticed that the bricks in the back of the fireplace (approx. 12 bricks) are falling out. My question to you is: What would cause these bricks to become loose and what other related problems should I look for? Answer: Scott,Is the fireplace totally masonry, or is it a manufactured fireplace with a metal chimney? If it's fully masonry, the bricks falling out are probably due to the house or foundation settling, or perhaps by vibration due to nearby railroad tracks or heavily traveled road. These bricks can be repointed in place, or you may recement them using refractory cement. It's available in a pre-mix form (my favorite), or you'll mix the powder w/water. Another option to hire a mason to finish this task. Another possibility is water seeping in from a lack of a chimney cap, settling in, freezing with the mason. Brick and most other masonry materials are porous and can absorb water. A chimney cap, combined with a waterproof sealant application on all exposed brick are two good things to have to ensure a long life. Have a sweep inspect the smoke chamber above the damper for any other loose bricks, as well as the tile liner for cracks. If the liner is cracked, you'll need to consider relining it for safety purposes. If the fireplace is manufactured, check to see if there are any steel or cast iron retaining bars that may have warped from high heat (burning paper, garbage, Xmas tree). If the retaining bar is warped, the bricks will come loose. If so, the name of the manufacturer is usually located in the upper right corner of the fireplace, just inside the opening. Good luck.