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  1. #1
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    Default Hearth Cracks - Continued

    I first posted about this FP last year on the old board:

    Hearth Cracks - Home Inspection & Home Inspector Services For Inspections and Inspectors

    I was at this property again last week for reasons unrelated to the fireplace, but did get a bit more information, and some new pictures.

    So... to continue my FP education;

    The owners had just had this swept, by a sweep "recommended by the local Fire Chief".

    The cracks at the rear were patched with a black material which per the owners came premixed an a 5 gal bucket. The sweep did not mention the damper, which is distorted and does not close more than 70% - but it might be that he will address this on a scheduled return trip, the purpose of which is to install a piece of steel plate which (as the owner understands it) will be leaned up against the back of the FP as "there needs to be about a 1" air space to protect the rear wall".

    Sounds pretty Billy-Bob to me, but for all I know may be an acceptable repair technique.

    No need to mention he hearth extension (it's tile on the sub flooring), don't know about the clearance at the sides and top and I don't have the instructions.

    I'll be interested in what Bob H. - and anyone else - has to say about this.

    BTW, that's re-bar supporting the chimney...

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    Cool Re: Hearth Cracks - Continued

    There is no recognized repair for refractory panels for factory built fireplaces. Majestic used to sell a kit but there is a question as to its validity. If the panels are past hairline cracks, replace them. No, he should not install a fireback as it has not been tested with that fireplace and could change the heat signature of that unit. From these and the old pics, it appears this unit has been overfired and possibly had a chimney fire. I recommend a Level II inspection at the least but very likely it will need to be replaced. If that is rust coming down the inner flue and there is corrosion of the inner sections up top, you can bet on the chimney fire. At high temps, the stainless steel undergoes intergranular corrosion as chromium carbides are formed. This turns stainless steels into staining steels. This is a covered loss by most insurance and the parts or entire fireplace replaced. Since it appears to be a Marco, you would have to replace the entire fireplace.

    Michael, you would do well to locate the rating plate around the opening of the fireplace, record the data and take pics.

    Those appear to be aftermarket unlisted doors.
    The wall finisih probably does not meet the listing requirement. At the very least, the paneling would need to be caulked to the unit but if it overlaps any, it must come out as a fire hazard.
    I doubt they installed a Z flashing under that Fp and hearth extension and yes, the HX still is not correct.

    I've seen a lot of EMT conduit used to support factory chimneys. As long as everything else was installed properly, it might not be a problem.

    Bob

    Keep the fire in the fireplace.

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    Default Re: Hearth Cracks - Continued

    Thanks as always for you quick replies. BTW, what was the black material used to "tuckpoint" the cracks in the refractory panels?


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    Default Re: Hearth Cracks - Continued

    "Michael, you would do well to locate the rating plate around the opening of the fireplace, record the data and take pics".

    None (that I could find) preset on this FP.

    -----

    It it the case that:

    1) The inner portion of a metal chimney on a factory built WB FP will always be SS?

    2) Any time we see rusting of such a chimney 2a) there was possibly a chimney fire and/or 2b) a level II is needed irrespective of whatever else a HI sees?


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    Smile Re: Hearth Cracks - Continued

    UL 127 recognizes flue inner casing of cast refractory or clay tile, porcelain-coated steel base metal then series 300 and types 430 and 446 stainless steel or be an equivalent. The joke is getting clay tile to pass the temp. tests because it cannot. The outer casing of the air cooled chimney must be G-90 galvanized steel, aluminized steel or an equivalent thereof.

    If you see rust coming down the flue, yes, its time for a Level II. But then again, if you're there for a Real Estate transfer inspection, a Level II is also indicated regardless of what you see.

    I guarantee the rating plate is there, you just need to learn where to look for it. Most people give up too easily. Look for a metal tag pop riveted to the side columns or smoke shield.

    HTH
    Bob

    Keep the fire in the fireplace.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Hearth Cracks - Continued

    Michael,

    Recommending a Level II depends upon your area, and your approach to the issue.

    If your area has adopted the NFPA 211 standards, then it is appropriate to recommend a Level II for all inspections.

    But, not all areas of the country recognize NFPA as a standard for HOME INSPECTIONS.

    In my area, NFPA 211 is not recognized by the AHJ, but it has been recognized as the industry standard for the fireplace industry and chimney sweeps. Sweeps are covered, not HI’s.

    The difference is important. If I report that the NFPA 211 mandates a Level II, I can end up looking dumb if called on it by a seller, real estate agent, attorney or a competitor. Anytime you spout “code” and can’t back it up you risk undermining your recommendation and reputation.

    So, what I would do is say something to the effect that “according to the NFPA 211, the nationally recognized fireplace and chimney industry standards, a more comprehensive inspection is warranted, blah, bah, blah.” This way, I achieve my goal without giving the seller/agent/attorney a way to undermine my recommendation.

    Also, I use the Level II recommendation with care since the CSIA had a heavy hand in drafting the current NFPA 211 inspection standards, and frankly, interjecting sweeps into the real estate process was, in part, self-serving. My first obligation is to my client, not helping my local chimney sweeps gain business.

    Jim


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    Default Re: Hearth Cracks - Continued

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Gecz View Post
    Recommending a Level II depends upon your area, and your approach to the issue.
    Not entirely.

    If your area has adopted the NFPA 211 standards, then it is appropriate to recommend a Level II for all inspections.
    It is appropriate to, using your word, "recommend" a Level II for all home inspections where there will be a change in ownership.

    But, not all areas of the country recognize NFPA as a standard for HOME INSPECTIONS.
    I'm not sure that ANY AREA recognizes the NFPA as a standard for HOME INSPECTIONS.

    In my area, NFPA 211 is not recognized by the AHJ, but it has been recognized as the industry standard for the fireplace industry and chimney sweeps. Sweeps are covered, not HI’s.
    EVERYONE is covered.

    Even Dan The Handyman is covered.

    The difference is important.
    There IS NO difference.

    If I report that the NFPA 211 mandates a Level II, ...
    All of a sudden you go from "recommends" to "mandates"? Why.

    THAT is the difference. Not whether or not NFPA 211 is adopted locally or not.

    I can end up looking dumb if called on it by a seller, real estate agent, attorney or a competitor. Anytime you spout “code” and can’t back it up you risk undermining your recommendation and reputation.
    All depends on HOW you *spout "code"*.

    If, like some, you "spout" code thinking it is a end-all, do-all, mandated-you-must-do-this-end-of-discussion, well, you will look pretty silly regardless as to whether the code applies or not.

    As "home inspectors", we cannot force anyone to do anything. Period.

    So, what I would do is say something to the effect that “according to the NFPA 211, the nationally recognized fireplace and chimney industry standards, a more comprehensive inspection is warranted, blah, bah, blah.” This way, I achieve my goal without giving the seller/agent/attorney a way to undermine my recommendation.
    Or even something more simple as 'The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends, in their Standard 211, that chimneys have a Level II inspection at each change in ownership, thus, I am recommending a Level II inspection of the chimney.'

    No need to go into all the 'nationally recognized fireplace and chimney industry' stuff, but, do say what NFPA is, most people may shake their heads, but I doubt that few know what NFPA stands for - say it and their ears will perk up when they hear/read "Fire".

    Also, I use the Level II recommendation with care since the CSIA had a heavy hand in drafting the current NFPA 211 inspection standards, and frankly, interjecting sweeps into the real estate process was, in part, self-serving. My first obligation is to my client, not helping my local chimney sweeps gain business.
    Question, though, at the risk of 'helping them gain business' what's wrong with a) helping protect your client, and, b) taking that monkey - the chimney - off your back and firmly attaching it to their back?

    You've got me stumped there (I understand the 'help them gain business' part, it's the other part I'm having problems understanding why you hesitate to do it).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Hearth Cracks - Continued

    “The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends a Level II inspection “Upon sale or transfer of property”, and the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends “Yearly professional inspection include checking chimneys, flues and vents for leakage and blockage”…

    is the language I use.

    --------------

    More generally, the more I learn about fireplaces, the more they appear to me to be one of the most problematic aspects of home inspection.

    At my present state of knowledge it appears that inspection to all common home inspection SOPs falls significantly short of what I consider an “adequate” FP inspection, and that to provide an "adequate" inspection is well beyond my capabilities.

    For example in my area many of the older houses with fireplaces are also two and three story structures with steep slate roofs and chimneys projecting 10-15 feet above the eaves; there is just no way that a HI could – or IMO usually should – be attempting to get to the top of such a chimney with the equipment and within the time available for a typical home inspection, and without chimney-top access it appears to me there is just no way to adequately assess (for example) the condition of the flue.

    Of course it irks me that there is an important aspect of HI that is beyond my capabilities, that I must recommend a separate, expensive inspection, and that the person who is selected to perform it may be ill trained, subject to conflict of interest, or incompetent.

    But unless I obtain much more extensive knowledge and training that I (or most HIs) now possess, and obtain the equipment and insurance required to tackle steep slate roofs and high chimneys (in my area, for starters, a 40’ ladder and a second person to help set up) I can’t perform an adequate inspection. And even then, it appears to me that to do a really good job of evaluating the older site-built fireplaces and multiple-flue systems common in my area I would also need years of experience - experience I would be obtaining at my customers expense, and perhaps at their hazard.

    So I have reached the point where while I’m trying to learn as must as I can about fireplaces, and will keep attempting to improve my inspection abilities, I’m also pretty much resigned to the fact that for the foreseeable future I will be recommending levels IIs as the best way to protect my clients.

    And what I really need is better assurance that they will be well served by the “experts” they hire; witness the repair techniques employed by the sweep above - who was recommend by a local fire official.

    Last edited by Michael Thomas; 08-15-2007 at 06:18 AM.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Hearth Cracks - Continued

    Jerry,

    During the recent CSIA D&D program a couple of sweeps from PA spoke up how their area now mandates Level II chimney inspections at the time of sale. Their biggest gripe is the local fire officials mandate they also give the chimney a pass or fail, placing a target squarely on the sweeps back.

    As to being held to the NFPA, in court I will be judged against my industry standard, which in Jersey is the NJ State SOP. Nowhere in that SOP does it mandate I recommend a Level II. That was my point – we can debate more whether an HI will be held to all the industry standards/codes of every trade we stumble upon during an inspection. I would certainly hate to think so.

    The NFPA 211 calls for EVERY chimney to undergo a Level II at the time of sale. Did you also know NFPA 211 also calls for annual inspections of ALL chimneys, fireplaces and vents? (with the exception of Type B and Type BW gas venting systems.) That means the clay lined chimney for my oil burning heating system, which has been plugging away for 50 years with nary a spalling tile. Where do we draw the line between legitimate consumer protection and self-serving interests?

    I regularly recommend my area sweeps – more so likely than other area HI's. Level II is my middle name! But I do so based upon my judgment, not because someone stacked the standards.

    Jim


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Hearth Cracks - Continued

    Michael,

    Totally understandable, I never advise someone to tackle a subject they are uncomfortable with, but consider this:

    If you are a member of FREA you are already covered for a Level II.

    I always scan the chimney from the fireplace. Who the heck wants to drag a 20lb chim-scan and cables on a roof to look down, all while holding back on a dropping camera?

    Take a look at the attached photos. Same spot for both spots. You think I walked on that roof? You think a sweep was going to get any more detail? No proper crown on the top of the chimney (and the bush) means water damage; I don’t have to play St. Thomas and stick my finger in the wound.

    I have a whole array of remote cameras, poles and attachments to get to hard to reach areas since my doctor really does not think someone with chronic positional vertigo should be on steps, no less a roof. Technology is god sent.

    I have, and will, defer my fireplace/chimney inspection to a local sweep when it would take specialized equipment. Meanwhile, crawl walk, run.

    Jim

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    Default Re: Hearth Cracks - Continued

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Thomas View Post
    And what I really need is better assurance that they will be well served by the “experts” they hire; witness the repair techniques employed by the sweep above - who was recommend by a local fire official.
    Amen to that.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Hearth Cracks - Continued

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Gecz View Post
    As to being held to the NFPA, in court I will be judged against my industry standard, which in Jersey is the NJ State SOP.
    Jim,

    What many HIs fail to realize is that, "in court", you will be held to whatever higher standard the opposing parties experts can convince the judge you *should have been using* ... 'in addition to' ... your SoP.

    If it can be shown 'that a reasonable home inspector should have known', or, 'that it is a professional standard of care of the area' (i.e., that 50% plus 1 of the area home inspectors do a certain thing, making it 'the professional standard of care for the area'), then you will be judged by that too.

    Most cases like this never see a jury, its a judge who decides who is right, who is wrong, who was wronged, who was injured, how much they were injured, and what percentage, if any, did their actions or lack of actions contribute to it.

    In other words, you may be found 'wrong', but the opposing party may be found to have a 'contributing factor of 50%', meaning that your 'wrong' is reduced to 50% of the award, if any, due to the 'wrong' having been committed by the other party.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Cool chimney certifications

    During the recent CSIA D&D program a couple of sweeps from PA spoke up how their area now mandates Level II chimney inspections at the time of sale. Their biggest gripe is the local fire officials mandate they also give the chimney a pass or fail, placing a target squarely on the sweeps back.


    I know of several of these areas in Buck's Co, Pa. and across NJ. They even have a "chimney certification form" in NJ. The sweep has the right to refuse the job. If he is hired to inspect such as house, he'd better make clear whether or not he plans on signing somebody elses form or not. I won't. I am willing to write my own Level II inspection report so that anybody can take it for what it is. However, I am not a recognized testing laboratory and therefore will not be coerced into signing anybody's certification on a pass/ fail basis unless they want to see a stack of "fail" certs. I've never met a chimney that doesn't have some sort of defect. I also did not lay the brick and mortar so I cannot attest to the construction hidden within. I can state the facts on the conditions present at the time of my inspection as visible based on the level of access required by that Level inspection such as "accessible" versus "readily accessible" versus "concealed" or "inaccessible". BTW, I don't get on slate roofs either. I tell them they can arrange for a cherry picker or erect scaffolding but I won't be responsible for brokem slates or tiles. If access requires a ridge hook ladder, 40 footer or other special means, there is a surcharge.


    Back to the chimney certs: while this has proven to be a gold mine for a few sweeps, it has also caused great consternation with the Realtors and their clients. What we're seeing is the beginings of this generation being made accountable for the sins of the past. All those years of neglect and abuse stop here. In the future, you will begin to see performance testing using combustion analyzers, micromanometers, blower doors, IR thermography,etc.

    It's only going to get more complicated...
    Bob

    Keep the fire in the fireplace.

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    Default Re: chimney certifications

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Harper View Post
    What we're seeing is the beginnings of this generation being made accountable for the sins of the past. All those years of neglect and abuse stop here.
    Bob

    I think I'm going to start explaining it to my clients in just that way.

    Can I use the quote above in a newsletter?


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    Smile legacy?

    Sure, just give me credit.

    Isn't that really the larger result of home inspections?
    Bob

    Keep the fire in the fireplace.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Hearth Cracks - Continued

    "If it can be shown 'that a reasonable home inspector should have known', or, 'that it is a professional standard of care of the area' (i.e., that 50% plus 1 of the area home inspectors do a certain thing, making it 'the professional standard of care for the area'), then you will be judged by that too."

    Great point, Jerry. You remind me that, like politics, law is local. In my area, the chimney sweeps fall far below any standards so I should be fine!

    Jim

    The quote gizmo seems to be on the fritz.


  17. #17
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    Default Re: chimney certifications

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Harper View Post
    Back to the chimney certs: while this has proven to be a gold mine for a few sweeps, it has also caused great consternation with the Realtors and their clients. What we're seeing is the beginings of this generation being made accountable for the sins of the past. All those years of neglect and abuse stop here. In the future, you will begin to see performance testing using combustion analyzers, micromanometers, blower doors, IR thermography,etc.

    It's only going to get more complicated...
    Bob

    Absolutely, that is why HI's must step into the process now and not fear they must be an expert to be a competent fireplace and chimney inspector.

    People can't use you and Dale as examples of what they must acheive prior to stepping up their service, but rather a goal to reach. Yes, there must be a level of minimum comptence, but a Level II is not a mysterious process, and most HI's are a lot closer than they realize.

    We should remember, the average sweep may be quite good at some aspects of his business, but few are competent inspectors - and there is always that potential conflict of interest during a real estate deal. So we have an opportunity here that should not be missed.

    Here is a challenge to Michael and others. Take the average masonry fireplace and vitreous clay liner (have to start using some of my D&D lingo).

    Just what are you reporting on now, and what is different from what you would report on with a Level II?

    Jim


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    Default Re: Hearth Cracks - Continued

    "What is different from what you would report on with a Level II?"

    1) Chimney top access: I often don't have access to the top of the chimney - weather, height, roof condition, roof material, and so on. And I know, from experience, that when I do have such access, I often find significant defects not visible from the ground or eaves, my 12x IS binoculars and my Photoshop enlargement and enhancement of images from my 10X IS 5Mb camera not withstanding.

    2) Flue inspection: At least in my area, where older two and three story chimneys project 10' or more above the eaves, I often ave a very limited ability to inspect flues above the fireplace. Be it from the Top or bottom, someone is going to have to get in there with a camera.

    3) Time. My typical SF inspections already run 3.5-4hrs +, which is at or beyond the the practical time constraints and/or patience of many of my clients.

    4) Knowledge: It's one thing if you are doing inspections of mostly factory built units, another if (as in my area) you are seeing lots of 100+ year old site-built fireplaces and multi-flue chimneys, many of which are altered from their original design, substantially deteriorated, or both.

    In such cases a week at Dale Feb's class (for example) appears (to me, at my current state of knowledge, others here may feel differently, or have greater knowledge) to be a insufficient substitute for years of experience inspecting, reporting and modifying such fireplaces and chimneys as required for safe and efficient operation.

    So if I have a better source of such knowledge to which to refer them, I feel I am doing my clients a disservice by not referring them to it but instead learning "on their dime "... and perhaps at risk of their injury or death to their families.

    Of course, to some extent all home inspection is "learned on the job".

    But to the extent possibly I've tried - since day one in the business - to do as much of that learning as possible in other ways. That's exactly what I attempting to do here, and in the extensive reading I've been doing over the last few months with regard to fireplaces and chimneys, and when I take the full F.I.R.E. class.

    But it remains a fact that posters such a Dale Feb, Bob Harper and others still see much I do not when they comment on the pictures posted here, and IMO, that's a clue that - speaking just for myself - I'm still well short of "competence" to inspect to a Level II or higher.

    YMMV


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Hearth Cracks - Continued

    Michael,

    Good points. Lets take some of your observations, not to single you out, but you are the only one playing right now.

    First, numbers 3 and 4 don’t count since we have already established no one should do any inspection unless he feels competent, and the amount of available time is a business decision, not a level decision. Some guys do septics, same problem.

    So then to Number 1 – roof access, certainly important. So what is the difference between a Level I and Level II? In this instance, it is one word. “Readily”.

    Level I “Readily Accessible”, and Level II is “Accessible”. “Readily Accessible” means you do not use tools to open or remove doors, panels and coverings.

    From the NFPA 211 – Accessible is “capable of being exposed for inspection, maintenance or repair without damage to the chimney or building structure or finish, but which may require the removal of doors, panels, or coverings using commonly available tools.”

    Does it mean you must walk all roofs in a Level II? Bob H already said he will not walk slate, and he is a pro. A scaffold system is not commonly available. I have heard some contend a 40’ ladder is also not considered commonly available. Hmmm, does a Level II mean you MUST access/walk the roof, use a scaffold, etc?

    Lets leave that to sit and brew a while.

    Number 2 – Absolutely you have to use a scanning camera. Those HI’s who tackle septic inspections in Massachusetts use cameras, too. You do not do that for free, and we already established arranging time is a business decision.

    As to the camera, we would not hesitate to look down a flue from the roof of a ranch, so what is the difference looking up through the fireplace with a camera, even a couple of stories high? A few thousand on a good camera, proper extension rods, some training and you run the camera up the flue and take neat photos.

    So then, again limiting our discussion to masonry fireplaces and chimneys, if an HI purchased a camera, what is the difference from what most HI SOP’s call for us to do now?

    I am truely interested in what part of a masonry fireplace and chimney system has so many HI's spooked about this mysterious Level II? (We solve that question and Dale's FIRE inspector attendance will skyrocket! ;-)

    Jim


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    Smile shortening the learning curve

    You cannot survive in business if you are intimidated by the experience, knowledge and training of others. I learned early on that instead of being intimidated by these old war horses, I saw them as a challenge. I wanted to see how fast I could "catch up" or as close as possible at least to a point where I was accepted as "worthy". One way I shortened the learning curve was to read every boring piece of technical info. I could get my hands on. Now, not everyone is cut out for this sort of reading and understand you're talking about a nerd that used to read the 1960 Compton's Encyclopedia cover to cover all the time (at least 5 times I know of).

    There weren't a lot of technical courses back then so I surrounded myself with people I felt knew something about key areas. I used to hang with the mason my family construction business used to build our chimneys. I visited masonry supply houses, concrete ready-mix plants, and even brick yards where they made bricks and flue tiles.

    In the days before the Internet, I would call 800-555-1212 and ask if a company had an 800 number. Then, I'd call it and ask to speak to an engineer. One example was the inventor of poly reinforcing fibers for concrete. I kept the inventor on the phone (at their cost) all afternoon. He LOVED to chat! Same with refractory cement engineers, DOW Corning caulk specialists--you name it.

    Pretty soon, people started recognizing I knew about a lot of goofy odd ball stuff. Poof! Instant credibility. What I lacked in experience in certain areas, I had more expertise than the war horses in others. As courses became available, I took what I could when I could. Even when I couldn't attend a course, I would get the book to start with so I knew the info. cold going in. That's how I blew through paramedic school setting records for highest grades. Sell yourself on the need and you'll find the motivation inside.

    If you don't learn well from reading boring technical stuff, I suggest you focus more on coures and hanging out with key people as much as possible. Learn to challenge everything you are taught. When some guy (like me) gets up in front of you, don't be bashful about challenging his theories. Ask him for references. Make him separate opinion from fact or published standards. When someone posts a quote, such as on this forum, don't be afraid to look it up and tactfully post the correct version if need be. One of the key things I learned from taking Dale Feb's course was to proofread my own work and double check my references before I hit Send or spouted off. Still, from time to time I prove once again my size 12 shoes can easily fit in my mouth.

    A word about Dale's 6 day course: don't look at it as just fireplaces and chimneys. I don't know of anyone who has taken it that hasn't taken away things that they applied to many other areas of their businesses. You learn not only facts but a system of thinking. You begin to put numerous hats on your head to see things from multiple angles. I knew a good bit about fireplaces going in but still learned a lot of facts, some new ways of approaching problems but I also learned some humility. Not enough but as scary as it sounds, this is better than it used to be with me! I learned how much I didn't know, too.

    Seriously, think of his course more as a general business plan than just one area of technical expertise. He is also a ready source of help and guidance after the course. We speak at least weekly and sometimes talk about fireplace stuff! You won't find a more light hearted, fun loving guy who happens to also be the leading authority in one area of expertise. Dale is very down to earth and approachable. Just keep him away from sushi bars....

    You are already participating in continuing education simply by being a part of this forum. Use it to develop the courage to speak up. If you are timid, look up a topic, write down your reponse elsewhere as a draft, come back and if it still looks ok, hit send. Take the leap. I still get corrected all the time and that's just my wife and kids.

    Education is not a single experience but a continuum. It is dynamic and ongoing, whether you want it to or not. You can control the pace and content to an extent but you cannot stop it.

    HTH,
    Bob H.

    Keep the fire in the fireplace.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Hearth Cracks - Continued

    Grey Beard, great post. For some, instead of using you and Dale as examples to strive for, your experience becomes an intimidation to entry.

    That ties into why I brought up this whole issue. We need to bust the scary myth of the “Level II” and get more HI’s into this valuable service and market opportunity. Why?

    Last year the CSIA had to cancel it sole 5 day Advanced D&D class due to lack of attendance. This year, I have only seen two offerings for their 3 day D&D. There were none that I know of last year. In my class in Harrisburg, last month, only 18 people attended, 8 from 1 office, and 2 others were office staffers not inspectors.

    How many graduate from Dale’s FIRE Inspector class per year? 50 or so, from the entire country? I was the only HI in my graduating class. We have thousands of gainfully employed HI’s inspecting homes equipped with chimneys every day. Still, only a minor portion of chimneys are currently being inspected, despite NFPA 211 and the vast market opportunity.

    So, the Sweeps are asleep at the wheel, but so too are HI’s.

    And, home inspectors, in general, have a better base of knowledge from which to expand into fireplace and chimney inspections, a far better base of knowledge than the average sweep. We are trained observers. We read manuals, learn rules, and have an eye for what just does not look right. We do not have to be experts to be good inspectors.


    Jim


  22. #22
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Spring City/Surrounding Philadelphia area
    Posts
    3,471

    Default Re: Hearth Cracks - Continued

    "We do not have to be experts to be good inspectors."

    Very true Jim. It starts with an open mind to continuing education and also just taking your time during an inspection. A sure fire way to miss defects is to go too fast or assume something is OK because at first glance it looks OK. I took the one day class on "Home Inspector and the Fireplace" and while I'm sure it doesn't skim the surface of the full F.I.R.E. course, it is a great course to take and it has helped bump my fireplace inspections up a notch.


  23. #23
    Jim Gecz's Avatar
    Jim Gecz Guest

    Default Re: Hearth Cracks - Continued

    Good for you Nick. Attendees of the 1 day course are already far above most of their brethren and are just a few steps away from enhancing their service by video scanning flues - again, simply starting with masonry fireplaces and expanding as they are comfortable.

    Here is the scope of the two primary Levels of inspection.

    Level I Scope – Inspect the readily accessible areas of the chimney and structure; lack of obstruction or combustible deposits in the flue, and the basic appliance installation and connection. (HI’s already do this since it involves no special tools, just eyeballs)

    Level II Scope – All of Level I and proper construction and condition of accessible portions of the chimney structure and enclosed flues, proper clearances from combustible in accessible locations, and size and suitability of flues in connected appliances.

    I contend that most knowledgeable HI’s, and certainly those who have attended the 1 day FIRE course, should already be checking for all but two of the Level II items. Flue interiors and flue size (sometimes).

    So please, anyone, tell me what else during your current FP inspection do you not check for? I believe most of you guys are 80% of the way there (this is a VERY competent group that hangs here), and just do not realize it.

    Level II myth busted!

    Jim

    Last edited by Jim Gecz; 08-18-2007 at 09:12 AM. Reason: Spelling - no S***

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