Results 1 to 10 of 10
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Cape Cod, Massachusetts
    Posts
    574

    Default How much is too much?

    This fireplace built in the 60's has a liner in the chimney flue, but the smoke chamber is very large constructed of brick and without a smooth surface. (the photo is a bit grainy from enhanced lighting)

    So when is a the unlined smoke chamber too much?? What are the rules? You can't really say any exposed brick is too much, because "EVERY" brick fire place has some unlined brick in the smoke chamber. Is there a practical approach here without crying "Chicken Little"?

    ***IMPORTANT*** You Need To Register To View Images ***IMPORTANT*** You Need To Register To View Images
    Inspection Referral SOC
    Ken Amelin
    Cape Cod's Best Inspection Services
    www.midcapehomeinspection.com

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Cape Cod, Massachusetts
    Posts
    574

    Default Re: How much is too much?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Abram View Post
    Ken - There are no rules. Having inspected fireplaces constructed from the 1600s, to the present I have come to the conclusion that it really does not matter as far as serviceability.
    In fifty years of looking at chimneys I do not ever remember seeing a smoke chamber burned out.
    Hi Jim,

    I wasn't referring to being burned out but more thinking of having a smooth surface for flow of air, and protection of gases leaking out between the joints of the bricks. With that thought, Isn't that what a liner in the flue is all about?? Why require a liner in the flue and none in the smoke chamber??

    Ken Amelin
    Cape Cod's Best Inspection Services
    www.midcapehomeinspection.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Southern Vancouver Island
    Posts
    4,546

    Default Re: How much is too much?

    I will call out all brick-lined chimneys for repair because in my climate, the mortar will be loose and falling out. The point is we can't inspect the liner properly and the risk of a leaking liner is not something to take lightly.

    I tell my clients they can have a stainless steel liner installed with a fireplace insert. The airtight door gives them control of the fire and the metal liner solves the flue problem.

    I can post a picture of a burned out smoke shelf if anyone wants to see one.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Cape Cod, Massachusetts
    Posts
    574

    Default Re: How much is too much?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post

    I can post a picture of a burned out smoke shelf if anyone wants to see one.
    OK John, - I'm chomping at the bit. let's see one.

    Last edited by Ken Amelin; 05-18-2014 at 05:47 AM.
    Ken Amelin
    Cape Cod's Best Inspection Services
    www.midcapehomeinspection.com

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Southern Vancouver Island
    Posts
    4,546

    Default Re: How much is too much?

    Two crumbling fireplaces, not 100's of years old.

    ***IMPORTANT*** You Need To Register To View Images ***IMPORTANT*** You Need To Register To View Images
    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Spring City/Surrounding Philadelphia area
    Posts
    3,473

    Default Re: How much is too much?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Abram View Post
    John - That looks like water damage.
    I think so too. Looks more like moisture than heat but pics only show so much.

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Southern Vancouver Island
    Posts
    4,546

    Default Re: How much is too much?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Abram View Post
    John - That looks like water damage.
    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Ostrowski View Post
    I think so too. Looks more like moisture than heat but pics only show so much.
    That was my point I guess. A brick-lined chimney in this climate is probably damaged.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Near Philly, Pa.
    Posts
    1,643

    Cool Re: How much is too much?

    Fireplaces are for recreation and decoration--neither primary heat nor emergencies per se. Sure, you can use one in an emergency but that is not a stated intent anywhere I'm aware of.

    With regard to the smoke chamber, you can comment on whether or not it complies with the current codes and standards or not, does it have combustible deposits that need to be removed (swept), signs of water penetration and damage, modifications, etc. but understand you're on a slippery slope. Once you being looking *into* chimneys rather than *at* them, you enter a new realm. For inspectors in Delaware, by law you must be performing a Level II inspection every time. If you cherry pick what you choose to inspect & comment on or not you not only expose yourself but your clients and anyone who comes into that building. You can Not tell from an untrained visual inspection from the firebox of the integrity of a smoke chamber or its suitability for continued use. For starters, as soon as you see the chamber was not parged, that's enough to call it out right there. The parging is there for two primary reasons: added mass or thickness and aerodynamics. It also aids in sweeping. There are other concerns such as wall thickness, dimensions, clearance to combustibles, offset flue outlet and transition, etc.


    If the rest of the chimney passed a Level II inspection (which I'm sure it would not), I would at least recommend removal of the damper and smoke shelf, parging the chamber with a purpose made refractory cement coating. install a top mounted damper/ rain cap/ animal guard.

    Keep the fire in the fireplace.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    26,245

    Default Re: How much is too much?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Wood View Post
    Bob I will clarify! If you are going to freeze to do death you can use the fireplace to prevent your death or serious frostbite. Is that safe enough. LOL
    I think what Bob is saying, but in completely different words, is that if you are going stand out in front of a semi-tractor trailer barreling down the highway at 70 mpg so you can tell your client if the grille is dirty, real dirty, or too dirty ... you will need to be able do that rather quickly if you hope to have any chance not to be run over by the charging attorney ... er ... semi-truck ... because you didn't tell your client about all the other things wrong with the truck.

    Either park the truck and do a Level II inspection or wave as it goes by. It's for everyone's best interests and safety.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Spring City/Surrounding Philadelphia area
    Posts
    3,473

    Default Re: How much is too much?

    I rarely see a fireplace anymore that I do not recommend a Level II inspection on. The masonry on-site built fireplaces almost always have something wrong.

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •