Home Inspectors Knoxville TN Discovers Unsafe Chimney

February 13, 2011 by  

Recently, I conducted a home inspection on a 50 year old brick rancher.  This home was in generally good condition, and well-constructed throughout.  A fireplace insert was installed in the fireplace, and my clients advised me that they were looking forward to burning a lot of wood before spring.  The insert looked to be in good condition and lightly used.  I went up on the roof to inspect the masonry chimney, and was shocked to see the chimney pictured at left.  It appeared to be only a shell of a proper chimney!  I removed the pieces of slate that had been placed on top of the chimney to keep some of the rain out, and discovered that the chimney was totally empty!  No flue tile liner, no built-up masonry, no chimney crown!  Check out the picture at right.  You can see at the bottom of the chimney is the fireplace damper.  There was literally nothing between the damper and the great outdoors!   And only a single course of brick separated the hot flue gases from living spaces and combustible attic framing!  Obviously, the only reason this house was still standing is that the former owners used this fireplace very little.  I have responded with a local municipal fire department to many incidents involving chimney fires over the last 20 years.  This chimney could never withstand the extreme temperatures commonly found in a chimney fire.  I advised my clients that this chimney was unsafe to use in its present condition.  They may use this information to renegotiate their purchase contract, or even opt for another house altogether.  In any event, this is a good example of the importance of hiring a professional home inspector before closing on your next home.  You can trust The House Scout with your Knoxville home inspection.

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