What I'm Seeing Now

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This Is Not, Not, Not An Appropriate Fireplace Repair

Amateurs do this sort of thing all the time and this is not, not, not an appropriate fireplace repair.

Fireplace boxes get hot and cool down.  A lot.

As such things expand and contract and what very often fails in a fireplace are mortar joints.

The cracking and loosening of mortar has to be handled carefully.  Trying to remove it with force can also encourage the bricks to shift out of place.

It's best to have a professional repair all this.

Flippers and homeowners are usually not trained.

Repairs have to be done with materials that withstand high temperatures!

Any mortar used must be labeled as "heat resistant" or "refractory."  There is a caulking made with silicates for small repairs.  It dries very hard.

A professional will carefully remove any loose mortar and vacuum the gaps completely. 

Then they spray it all with water and trowel or pipe (like cake decorating) the mortar into the gaps.  The mortar is then finished with special edgers to create the desired look.  Sometimes they tape plastic over the mortar repairs to make them dry more slowly, and therefore cure to be harder.  They are very good at it!  A professional knows what materials to use!

What should NOT   be used are materials that can burn!

This job "repair professional" used a very soft caulking.  I could squish my fingers into it!  It wasn't even silicone...

This stuff isn't fireplace mortar.  Is it flame proof?  Is it labeled to contain the proper fireplace silicates for use in this application!  The house has been on the market for weeks - why hasn't it hardened by now?

My recommendation:  fireplaces are big deals.  They have to be investigated as carefully as possible.  This particular fireplace flue had dangerously thick soot and creosote build up as far as I could see.  It has not been cleaned in a long time!  Had a professional chimney sweep done the work you see here that flue would have been swept also!   This "repair professional" (i.e. Flipper) went to the store to find a caulking that looked like it has a mortar color and squirted it in there!  And now wants someone to buy it.  Get an inspection!  Be safe!

 

 

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 21 commentsJay Markanich • June 14 2014 02:27AM

Comments

Yeah that doesn't look very safe.  In fact, it doesn't even look good.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) about 4 years ago

Good morning, Jay.... this is what happens when a fix and flipper thinks he's capable of doing every job to fix a home....

Posted by Barbara Todaro, "Franklin MA Homes" (RE/MAX Executive Realty ) about 4 years ago

It's all in all infantile Debbie.  And silly.  And dangerous.

Barbara - so, if what I can see is like this, what about what I can't see?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 4 years ago

Interesting I wonder what the rest of the fixes will show? 

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty AR LLC) about 4 years ago

I admire investors who buy distressed properties, make necessary repairs and upgrades for resale, at a profit.  Otherwise, many communities would be glutted with aging unsold properties.

All of that said, the investor must follow the law and make repairs and upgrades in a safe and appropriate manner.

There IS NO middle ground.  If an investor isn't sufficiently funded to do these buy/resells properly, they need to get a job.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) about 4 years ago

Like I said to Barbara above, James.

There was a lot behind "new" drywall.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 4 years ago

 Good morning Jay. I have seen all sorts of fireplace repairs that leave me scratching my head with a garden rake. Like, what were they thinking? Oh, they weren't!

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) about 4 years ago

There is something wrong with the thought that this was an okay attempt to repair Jay. It doesn't look good cosmetically, let alone functionally.

Posted by Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366, General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage (Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366) about 4 years ago

Oh gee...there is an example where common sense certainly is NOT common....as Tom says....was it supposed to even just look better as it aged ?

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) about 4 years ago

Obviously the caulk was to act like one of those Duralogs. When the new homeowner used the fireplace for the first time they would have been amazed at all the pretty colors as the stuff burned away. 

By far the most common issue I find with fireplaces is incorrectly built smoke chambers. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) about 4 years ago

Hello Jay,

Consumers - beware, beware the flipper repair!

Posted by Lisa Von Domek, ....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless! (Lisa Von Domek Team) about 4 years ago

But it looks good! So, it must be good, right?

People have no idea how many croners 'flippers' cut. That is why I can't flip house. I refuse to do it 'on the cheap'.

Posted by Than Maynard, Broker - Licensed to List & Sell - 405-990-8862 (Coldwell Banker Heart of Oklahoma) about 4 years ago

Wow, Michael.  Please send me a video of that.

And for good reason Tom!

S&D - I think they were expecting that nobody would notice.

I bet burning something in this would create a smoke challenge for the chamber Jim!

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 4 years ago

They are out there in force Lisa!  And doing that voodoo they do so well.

That's the idea Than!  Getting a liberal return for their conservative effort! 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 4 years ago

Yes, they are walking lawsuits! 

Hope you have a lovely Father's Day Sunday! 

Posted by Lisa Von Domek, ....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless! (Lisa Von Domek Team) about 4 years ago

Wow, another great post on what to look out for & have the correct repairs done before you burn the house down.

Posted by Lyn Sims, Schaumburg IL Area Real Estate (RE/MAX Suburban) about 4 years ago

Grathiath Hermana Lisa.

Lyn - fireplaces rank among the most abused things in a house!  And Flippers, well, watch your back.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 4 years ago

Yes!  Fireplaces are too specialized to be repaired casually.  I cannot believe they used squishy caulk in a fireplace..

Posted by 1 ~Judi & Don Barrett & Chassy Eastep - Integrity, BS Ed, Integrity Real Estate Services -IDABEL OK (Integrity Real Estate Services 118 SE AVE N, Idabel, OK 74745) about 4 years ago

Sometimes I am amazed Judi.  I will never see it all!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 4 years ago

Jay, that is FRIGHTENING. If you don't have an inspector who is truly on top of things (and you are TOPS in my book), you could have a very big disaster of monumental and life-changing proportions on your hands. Fires (to me) are one of the WORST things I can think of happening to homeowners. 

Such great information--you always teach us well. 

Posted by Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Real Estate, "Your Local Expert!" 503-755-2905 (John L Scott Market Center) about 4 years ago

Thanks Gayle.  This one was pretty obvious.  Another fireplace thing that bothers me are the ones that are painted black.  Painted with what?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 4 years ago

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