What I'm Seeing Now

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Ignorance May Be Bliss, But Not Forever

Sometimes things go by the wayside, not because they aren't taken care of but because people don't realize they are happening.

This is the exhaust flue for a gas fireplace.

It is the one on the side of my house!

It has been there about 10 years.

There is no damage to the siding, no charring on or around the mechanism and it is installed properly.

This was discovered on a recent inspection.

I have to say, there are very seldom problems with this kind of gas fireplace flue.

But this one certainly has problems.  It is a fire hazard.

It has been there only 6 years.

There was charring inside the fireplace on the ceramic gas logs, charring on the angled cover you see here, and charring on the areas above the flue.

Heat is not sent away properly either - you can see melting of the vinyl siding and the vinyl soffit cover above.

THIS IS A FIRE WAITING TO HAPPEN!  And it may be only one use of the fireplace away!

The exact problem isn't known, but it needs to be seen by a professional right away.

The Realtor mentioned to the seller not to use the fireplace and showed him why.  He had not noticed this problem before!

And it's obviously been there a while.

My recommendation:  it's a good idea to walk around your house a few times a year to see what it's telling you!  There may be something going on you weren't aware of!

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 38 commentsJay Markanich • February 19 2011 05:47AM

Comments

Good advice. The worst that happened to me was early winter the windows iced up because I was not circulating the air enough...stained the wood a bit. 

Posted by Chuck Carstensen, Minnesota Real Estate Expert (RE/MAX Results) over 8 years ago

Great photo, placement of the exhaust flue is critical and most home owners are not aware.

Posted by Dan Edward Phillips, Humboldt and Del Norte Counties, CA (Dan Edward Phillips, Humboldt and Del Norte Counties, CA) over 8 years ago

H-m-m-m, I don't think I have ever seen that one Jay, Interesting, very interesting...

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) over 8 years ago

Thanks Chuck.  Well, keep that air moving!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Dan - not sure what the problems are here, but I think there are some disconnections not visible until it is taken apart.

Like I said, Michael, very seldom do we see such problems as these.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

First time I've seen anything like that, but a disaster only takes one time...great catch by the Realtor to see the problem and pass it on to the homeowner.

Posted by Anita Clark, Realtor - Homes for Sale in Warner Robins GA (ColdwellBanker SSK Realtors ~ 478.960.8055) over 8 years ago

She saw the problem after I pointed it out Anita!  Recognizing from my explanation that it WAS a problem, she didn't want the house burning down before her clients took possession!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

  Things seldom stay the same...and fresh eyes and a tour of a property can sure help prevent things...like those pesky fire hazards !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 8 years ago

Good Morning Jay,

Yikes - that one is a disaster waiting to happen. Walking around your house from time to time is a great way of spotting a possible problem. I am a big fan of painting one side of your house every year.

Posted by John McCarthy, Realtor - Seacoast NH (Bean Group Portsmouth NH) over 8 years ago

S&D - minor stuff indeed!  A regular sweep around the house is always a good idea.

John - I have heard that from others!  That way nothing on the house ever "needs" painting!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Hi Jay I have seen this type of venting all the time. All we can do is advise the client.

Clint

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) over 8 years ago

Thank goodness you spotted that! I am sure it can get sorted now that the issue has been identified. Great advice to walk around! (I hope your son is doing well on his "vacation.")

Posted by Kathryn Maguire, Serving Chesapeake, Norfolk, VA Beach (GreatNorfolkHomes.com (757) 560-0881) over 8 years ago

The venting is very common for me too, Clint, but this problem is not.

Kathryn - I stood in front of this exit opening for a long time talking with my clients to see if they would notice it and they did not.  You really have to pay attention when things look out of the ordinary.

As to my son, no news is good news.  Thanks!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Man that's scary.  Stuff like this and broken exhaust venting pipes from furnaces makes me cringe.

Posted by Justin Dibbs, REALTOR® - Ashburn Virginia Homes for Sale (Pearson Smith Realty) over 8 years ago

Jay, That's certainly an unexpected find!  Good catch!

Posted by Liz and Bill Spear, RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton) (RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 www.LizTour.com) over 8 years ago

Justin - yeah, I think something is broken or disconnected in there, perhaps from day one!

It is unexpected Bliz.  I think I have only seen a couple with problems like this.  The vent has a pretty good record!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

That is really scary.  Just imagine, people are inside that house, going about their daily business, living their lives, with no clue that the next few minutes could bring.  You have to be vigilant!

Posted by Susan Haughton, Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results. (Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545) over 8 years ago

Good morning Jay;  Again I say "You are a must read" for all the great information you bring to us.  You are "Priceless"  Thank you.

Posted by Kenneth Cole, NYS Licensed Real Estate Salesperson (Weichert Realtors Appleseed Group, 2043 Richmond Ave. S.I.N.Y. 10314. office phone 718-698-9797, Appleseedhomes.com -) over 8 years ago

Thanks for pointing out the potential fire hazard her. I hate to say that nothing surprises me anymore but thanks to your teaching "nothing does surprise me anymore.

Posted by Bob "RealMan" Timm, Owner of Ward Co. Notary Services, retired Realtor (Ward County Notary Services) over 8 years ago

All too commonly, commons sense is increasingly rare. If you don't look, you can't see. How obvious is that.

Edit; there are mandated fire and building code clearances that I suspect have not been observed. The charring or soot present is a second problem, likely air to fuel carburetor settings.

Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) over 8 years ago

Jay, some manufacturers say that when the unit starts to produce carbon like that it actually ruins the unit and it has to be replaced.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 8 years ago

Susan - that's the idea!  When I say ignorance, I don't mean stupid, just unaware!

Thanks again Ken!  There are a million things to think about on a house.

This really is a fire hazard Bob.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Robert - in this case, the design and final product was approved by the County.  I don't know what clearances this County mandates, but this one is about 18".  I do inspections in 19 different local jurisdictions and they are all different in so many ways - I cannot keep up with it all.

Charlie - I agree.  What I say is that the unit needs to be investigated professionally, and in this case the discharge tubing as well!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Yeah Jay, every place is different, all you can really do is pick out the below average ones. Usually the clearances above the vent are greater, that's just physics. This equipment is meant to have a 'cool' exhaust. Obviously not the case in this instance.

Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) over 8 years ago

It usually is cool Robert.  This experience, seeing this anyway, is very rare for me.  Something was disconnected inside I think.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Good catch, I wonder if the unit it is attached to is malfunctioning and causing what we’re seeing here.

Posted by Johnathan R. Therriault, Inspecting the Pocono's, one house at a time. (JTHIS-Professional Home Inspection Team ) over 8 years ago

There's certainly something going on inside that we can't see, Jonathan, and for sure we don't go about taking things apart on a home inspection!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Wonderful advice, as usual! Fireplaces can indeed be dangerous if not checked on an annual basis! I had a wood burning fireplace in my last house and (thank heaven) had it checked before we used it the first time. We were told it needed some work, which we had taken care of. Nothing can replace a good inspection!

Posted by Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional, Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor (Charles Rutenberg Realty) over 8 years ago

If the unit is smoking like that one, there is definetly a problem with the installation. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 8 years ago

Something has definitely gone wrong there and don’t worry, Jon understand we don’t fix/break anything during a home inspection. There are people who get paid to do that and it's not us. LOL

Posted by Suesan Jenifer Therriault, "Inspecting every purchase as if it were my own". (JTHIS-Professional Home Inspection Team) over 8 years ago

Mr Jay,

I think that you and me both direct vent quite a bit when old Mr Charles says something mean and dumb about us or our immediately's family members.

Nutsy

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 8 years ago

Barbara-Jo - it is likely that most homeowners don't have things like that checked regularly, if at all!

Jim - almost certainly, but I didn't look inside.  I suspect a break or separation in the vent tubing.  Maybe even from day one!

Sue - we sure try not to break anything!  Can't say my record is 100%!

Nutsy - since we are carbon, we have no way of venting anything that is not.  Well, now that I think about it, you probably vent your share of methane...  and that family of yours probably vents a lot!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Here in MN, that soffit would end up completely covered in ice and frost, and there would be a huge mess of frost in the attic from this as well.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 8 years ago

Reuben - that's got to be true!  The attic is two floors above this!  Ice there would be a sight!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Thanks for the advice, Jay, and for the great illustration.  It will be something that I look out for.  With more and more retrofit gas fireplaces being added, things like this, can "happen"...

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) over 8 years ago

There are a lot of retrofits Chris, I think because wood burning is so difficult to maintain.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

I am always amazed how few homeowners have been around their house.  Sometimes we see things when listing the property or when our buyer/inspector is looking and the seller really honestly has no clue because they haven't looked on that side of the house in years.  Scary!

Posted by Joel Weihe, Helping you to use your VA home loan benefits (Realty World Alliance) about 8 years ago

Sheree - I find that homeowner ignorance is very common.  So I am usually not surprised when a homeowner is informed of something they don't know about at all!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 8 years ago

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