Before I turn it on, I always look inside the glass front of a gas fireplace and the inside of your gas fireplace should never be wet!
Outside the house, a gas fireplace chimney flue should look something like this.
It would be metal, protrude from the siding, and not melt the siding around it.
It is connected directly to the fireplace flue.
Which is connected directly to the fireplace box!
It is a complete unit. Typically the framing around it is wood, so the unit has to be tight, situated properly and there should be no way for heat to escape.
Similarly there should be no way for water to get in.
Looking inside this fireplace unit, behind and above the ceramic logs, clearly there is rust, staining and even peeling paint.
This leaking has been happening for a while!
When I pointed it out, my clients had a problem with this.
Their previous house had a similar problem!
Water had gotten through or around the fireplace flue and box and into the wood-framed cavity itself.
Mold began to develop unseen inside that cavity, and then made its way into the walls beside the fireplace. They had a particular sensitivity, were not feeling well, and when it developed outside had to remediate the mold. It was not cheap.
And here in this house they are considering buying, they run into the same problem! A fireplace that is obviously leaking! This find was the one thing that would have rubbed them quite the wrong way!
I have to say, I seldom see such staining or rust inside a fireplace. In fact, I said to them, I could not remember the last time I had. But I always check.
My recommendation: never assume that things are performing as they are supposed to. It pays to check. Sometimes the seldom seen is! Sometimes the never-before seen is! It might just be the big elephant in the room.
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560