Lancaster Inspector’s Corner – It’s Time to Get Down to the Hearth of the Matter

Welcome Back Readers!  It’s Friday again, not just any Friday but Christmas Day!  Don’t worry, I’m not actually writing this today, through the magic of technology I wrote your Lancaster Inspector’s Corner tip on Monday and set it to post today, so even though we are celebrating Christmas you still have a chance for Matt Steger with WIN Home Inspection to teach you something that will help you keep your home warm and safe through the holiday season!  Keep reading after the jump to find out more and have a Merry Christmas!

When looking at Chimneys and Fireplaces during his Lancaster County Home Inspections, Matt considers a number of things:

This week, let’s continue discussing what a home inspector should do when it comes to inspecting fireplaces and chimneys.

 During my inspections, I regularly recommend a proper flue cover be installed.  These covers have flat sheet metal on the top and wire mesh on the sides.  They help keep rain water, leaves, debris, and animals out of the flue, yet still allow exhaust gases to vent.  Metal flue liners often have their own metal cover which performs the same function.

 The flue damper is commonly a small door above the firebox that closes off this area when the fireplace is not in use.  If the fireplace’s damper is missing or damaged, a flue cover on a chain is also an option.

 On the home’s interior, the home inspector will view the firebox and hearth extension and, if visible, part of the smoke chamber and the bottom of the flue.  He will also check the flue damper and fresh air vent (if equipped) and determine proper operation.  Due to the intense heat from the fireplace, cracked or missing mortar in the firebox can lead to excessive heat finding its way to building materials within the walls that are not meant for this sort of heat. 

 When the firebox opening is less than 6 square feet in size, the hearth extension should extend at least 16 inches in front of and at least 8 inches beyond each side of the firebox opening.  When the firebox opening is 6 square feet or larger, the hearth extension should extend at least 20 inches in front of and at least 12 inches beyond each side of the fireplace opening. 

 The hearth extension has several functions, such as helping to keep heat at the fireplace/stove and away from combustible materials (such as carpet or wood flooring) as well as providing a non-combustible surface should hot embers or burning logs fall out of the firebox.  A shallow hearth extension presents a possible fire hazard.

 Of course, the hearth extension should be constructed of a non-combustible surface (and is often brick).  In a few homes I’ve inspected, there was no hearth extension whatsoever and wood flooring or carpet terminated right at the firebox or very near to it; a recipe for disaster, if you ask me.  One loose log rolling out or a spark escaping from the fireplace could easily start a house fire.

 Next week, we’ll continue our discussion about fireplaces and what home inspectors do and don’t while inspecting them.  We’ll also provide some more helpful tips and safety recommendations.

Don’t forget, I always call Matt for all of my Home Inspections needs when helping Home Buyers and Home Sellers in Lancaster County, he is available at 717-361-9467!

I’d like you to be part of the conversation, so if you like what you read here please comment, forward The Lancaster Connection.com to your friends, subscribe and as always, if you have questions, need real estate advice or want to buy or sell a home, you can call or text me at 717-371-0557, email me at Jason@JasonsHomes.com or contact me at the office at 717-490-8999!

Your Friend in Real Estate,

Jason Burkholder

Weichert, Realtors – Engle & Hambright

Search for Lancaster County Homes for sale at www.JasonsHomes.com by clicking here!

 

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