Dear Monty column: Seller stumped by a fireplace inspection – Business – Ionia Sentinel – Standard-Ionia, MI

Columns share an author’s personal perspective.


Reader’s question: A potential buyer has submitted an offer for our house with the possibility of a chimney inspection. The chimney inspector started inside and took many measurements of the chimney and mantle. Then he went outside and lowered a special camera down the chimney. He came back into the house and showed me the video. I could see that some of the mortar between the stacked fireplace tiles had deteriorated or was missing. He told me the chimney was in bad shape and was a fire hazard. The buyer did not take part in the chimney inspection. A few days later, the buyer asked for $ 13,000 to repair the chimney. I’m shocked. Do you have any advice

Monty’s Answer: Here is some background information that can help promote a happy ending. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that there are nearly 18 million fireplaces in the United States. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), “The chimneys that serve chimneys are designed to drive off the byproducts of combustion – the substances that are produced when wood is burned. These include smoke, water vapor, gases, unburned wood particles, and so on.” Hydrocarbons, tar mist, and various minerals. When these substances leak out of the fireplace or wood stove and flow into the relatively cooler chimney, condensation occurs. The resulting residue that adheres to the inside walls of the chimney is called creosote. “Creosote is the most common cause for chimney fires. The KAG also states that most chimney fires go undetected at the time of the fire. Every year around 25,000 chimney fires are detected.

The effects of fireplace building techniques

My research suggests that wood-burning fireplaces are more prone to fire than gas blocks. Gas logs do not produce creosote or the 2000 ° C heat of a wood fire. Chimneys made entirely of brick are far less likely to cause a fire with proper maintenance. If the fireplace has brick siding over a wooden frame, the intense heat of the fire can cause adjacent materials other than creosote to ignite. Here is a link to Bob Vila’s advice on building a fireplace.

Interestingly, property and casualty insurance companies don’t rate fireplaces. The coverage for the primary homeowner includes fireplaces. An unrated coverage indicates that the likelihood of a chimney fire is quite low, regardless of the construction.

Monty’s advice

I assume the buyer shared the chimney inspection. Consider a second, possibly a third, opinion. A chimney sweep or a bricklayer are two types of contractors who have the knowledge to mean. Treat the review process the same as you would any other service provider. You want unbiased recommendations from happy customers. You want to understand all of the typical repair options in advance. There are probably only a handful of potential fireplace problems and more than one solution to each challenge. Sometimes a $ 12,000 stainless steel liner job can turn into a $ 3,000 liner coating on the inside of the smoke vent tiles. As with any other company, not all service providers will arrive at the same results.

Richard Montgomery is the author of “House Money – An Insider’s Secrets To Save Thousands When You Buy or Sell a Home”. He advocates industry reform and offers readers unbiased real estate advice. Follow him on Twitter at @dearmonty or on

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