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damage found after a clean inspection

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by bunbun, Nov 17, 2012.

  1. bunbun

    bunbun New Member

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    Hi I just bought a house in April and had inspection done on the chimney. The inspector was highly reccomended and said the chimney was fine, but said the fireplace needed a cleaning and to call him when we owned the house. Anyway I called him recently but he was busy so we had another cleaner come out and they cleaned the fireplace. They said the chimney has damage and we need a minimum of $1200 of work and that it could be as high as $3500. This completely sucks because we would have negotiated at closing if we knew. Any advice on the situation? Are we being duped?

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  2. mfglickman

    mfglickman Minister of Fire

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    Did either one inspect with a camera? Have you spoken with the first one since?

    I don't think you have any recourse in terms of $$ but you do need to find out if any work is needed to make your chimney safe.

    What does the 2nd guy say needs to be done and how do you plan to use the chimney?
  3. bunbun

    bunbun New Member

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    The second guy said that there are cracks in the mortar above the damper and that we need to cut out the damper to do the repair and that we should have the damper reinstalled at the roof level with a long chain pull. He said I need to have them come back and do a camera inspection and see if the liner is damaged. I believe the first guy did a camera inspection, we have played phone tag but have not been able to get in touch with one another as he is very busy.
  4. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    That is a bummer. If a fix is needed, would you be opposed to installing a wood insert into the fireplace with an insulated stainless liner up the chimney? That would be safe and would give you the nice benefit of a lot more heat into the house from the fireplace.
    etiger2007 and OldLumberKid like this.
  5. elmoleaf

    elmoleaf Feeling the Heat

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    Take a flash camera and stick it up in the smoke chamber, take some photos, and post 'em here. If possible, get up on the roof and take some photos down the flue. There are lots of folks on here with good experience that can give advice.
    Or, ask the inspector to provide photos and explain what he's seeing that needs fixing. Folks here can then offer a second opinion.
    On the face of it, it seems odd that a flue would be fine, but the fireplace would need cleaning....unless he's talking about crud up on the smoke shelf etc. above the firebox.

    How old is the house/chimney? Is the flue lined with clay tiles, or just raw brick? Is the smoke chamber parged with cement?
    If you were planning on using the fireplace just as a fireplace....reconsider. If you do an insert, as others have suggested, you may be cutting out the damper and adding a flue liner anyway, so the existing damage may be moot.
  6. bunbun

    bunbun New Member

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    HI the house was built in 1972, it is a two sided see through fireplace (yea I know they kinda suck). It is a big fireplace and looks like the smoke chamber is parged brick and the flue liner is ceramic. This is honestly my first fireplace so I may be getting some of this terms wrong. The second inspector said it needed to be parged above the damper $900 as there were areas where creosote was building up that he could not get to. They looked almost like tubes and they looked like part of the initial design of the fireplace. They also quoted me for cutting out and moving the damper $295, and another camera inspection $125 to see if there is damage to the liner. He said if there is damage above the liner it would be about $3500 total to do the whole thing. He said it is not a crutial immediate fix. When I asked him if I should not use the fireplace at all he said it would be Ok to use it for small occasional fires. Which seemed odd to me and I just am curious if this sounds like a legitimate inspection answer.
  7. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Pics will help if you can post them. What would be the ultimate goal for the fireplace. Actual home heat or an occasional ambiance fire?
  8. clemsonfor

    clemsonfor Minister of Fire

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    If it were me, I would brick up one side of it, install an insert and tear out the damper and install a liner down the chimney, but this will cost closeer to the $2000. Then you will actualy get real heat out of it. I tried for a few years to heat a 450sqft room with a fireplace. I did it barely after about 4-6 hours, now I can heat close to 2500sqft with my insert and use no other heat.

    There is clay tiles above the damper that are either cracked at some point of the motor between them is eroded out it sounds like. There is no other way to replace them they will have to line you chimney if there is damage. Its the same type liner you will use for an insert its just going to be a larger size and the way it connects at the smoke shelf will be fabricated to the fireplace instead of connecting to the appliance or woodstove.
    etiger2007 and OldLumberKid like this.
  9. Tramontana

    Tramontana Member

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    First off, I would recommend that you definitely get in touch with the initial inspector. Be firm, but don't give too much information away in your discussions with them. If they performed a proper fireplace and/or chimney inspection, they ought to have records, including notes and photographs or video from their inspection. If the inspector "approved' your home prior to sale, they are somewhat responsible if there are conditions other than as described. You paid for this inspection, and if indeed there are $3000+ in existing repairs needed, the initial inspector should be partly responsible. Don't be too forgiving, they should probably have errors and omissions insurance to cover costs such as these.

    However, if they have evidence that there were not existing damage, then you may wish to get a third opinion from another sweep company from a CSIA accredited company. I would pursue getting to the bottom of the previous inspection and obtain any and all records possible prior to proceeding with any modifications. Personally I loathe how litigious our society has become, but this may be a case where you might consider seeking council once you have any records from the initial inspection.

    Others have commented, open fireplaces are terribly inefficient as heating sources, and often will actually rob your home of heat rather than helping warm your home and reducing heating utility bills. Modern EPA II approved free standing wood stove, inserts and pellet stoves are all much more efficient means of heating with biomass.

    If your chimney turns out needing such extensive repairs, it might be money better spent to have a good insulated stainless steel flue liner installed with a modern heating appliance. This will be a safer and more efficient means of heating your home, and would cost about the same amount.

    Cheers, and keep us posted with what you find out.
  10. clemsonfor

    clemsonfor Minister of Fire

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    you obviously have not had a home inspection before. They tell you and I think you sign a form that says that there not liable for anything that they missed during the inspection.
  11. Tramontana

    Tramontana Member

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    Actually, I have had a professional inspection performed, within the past five years. If the inspector informed the buyer that the chimney was inspected and found to be safe and in good working order, I believe they are partly culpable if this proves untrue. Providing false findings is different than unforeseen conditions. Not being privy to the actual contractual obligations, I would err on the side of the OP being better protected. They did not give enough detail, nor do they cite the qualifications of either the inspector or the chimney sweep claiming a potential $3000 problem.

    I will reiterate that the OP ought to insist on getting the backup information from the initial inspection prior to proceeding in any direction.

    One concern that I have is the original inspector offering to come back under a separate contract to perform cleaning. This to me creates a potential for conflict of interest.

    Our inspector did find some deficits with the property prior to final bid acceptance, and offered references for contractors that they have worked with, but did not have a financial relationship with. We negotiated an adjusted price with the seller to re mediate the deficiencies as part of the sale.
  12. Tramontana

    Tramontana Member

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    [​IMG]
  13. clemsonfor

    clemsonfor Minister of Fire

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    I understand what you are saying, but these guys are about worthless in my opinion. I paid for one myself but wish I would have kept my money. They offered no information that I did not know or could have found myself. There really for folks that have no mechanical knowhow or wither have no interest in doing anything them selves. They do make a claim that they are not liable for anything, this includes the misdiagnosis or total missing of a problem that may or may not be at hand. Hopefully they have something that they can share in the cost but I do not think that will be the case I believe that what I am saying will be the situation that the OP is in. I really hope not, but that is the sad thing with these inspectors. They can belong to the home inspectors of America club or whatever but at the end of the day anything that they were not an "expert" in in the past they refer you to someone else to give you an opinion on. For example they say they "see no cracks in your bricks" so they feel the foundation is good, but if you really want an expert opinion or clearance you need to get a foundation guy out. Or the electrical is not all up to code but you need to have an electrician out here..
  14. David Tackett

    David Tackett Member

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    Maybe the 2nd guy is trying to rip you off. I would get another opinion.

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