Crack in a fire box...pic included

What is the write up for a crack like this ?
Is it serious ? David

There are one or more cracks in the manufactured fireplace firebrick. Replacement or an evaluation by a fireplace specialist is recommended.

thanks for the reply

  1.   Our home inspectors do not inspect the internal components of a fireplace and/or their chimney, because it is impossible for a home inspection to determine with any degree of certainty whether the flue is free of defects. In accordance with recommendations made by the National Fire Prevention Association to have all chimneys inspected before buying a home, you should consider contacting our office for a Certified Chimney Specialist to conduct a Level II inspection of the chimney flue prior to close of escrow.

Assuming that really is a manufactured fireplace with ‘artificial brick’ then:

Mark this statement in my opinion could mislead one to believe you didn’t inspect the fireplace at all. Are you saying you don’t look at the visible area inside the fireplace?

I do not. This is where the SOP and I differ. I promote a Level II inspection and offer it as an ancillary service. To do even to what the SOP states, could lead the client to believe that the fireplace and chimney have been inspected thoroughly and are safe to use. I always explain that on the phone before booking, and I always tell them to get a level II before using it.

With all due respect Mark, that’s a little shady in my view. What if a HI chose not to inspect the HVAC system at all and insisted that the client hire the HI’s sister HVAC company for that service?

This organization’s Code of Ethics states: “The InterNACHI member shall abide by the Code of Ethics and substantially follow the InterNACHI Standards of Practice.” I don’t think there is an allowance for “differing” with it.

That’s fine, I respect your opinion. And if that is a violation of the COE and the ethics committee choses to remove me from membership, then so be it.

My opinion is that what the SOP states should be done, is completely inadequate, and puts my clients at risk. I find it morally unconscionable to allow anyone to think that their fireplace is safe without a Level II. Since, I am not qualified to do a Level II myself that leaves one option.

As to the COE, I do “substantially” follow them. I just don’t inspect fireplaces or their chimneys, and unless you have been trained to do a Level II, I suggest you don’t either.


I also recommend a Level II inspection on fireplaces and chimneys but that does not or should not preclude the HI from doing a Level I inspection. That would not only validate the recommendation for the Level II (means the HI actually looked at the fireplace) instead of just pushing the basic responsibility onto another professional but let the customer know the inspector did follow the basic SOP requirement.

The NFPA gives the procedures for a Level I as:

Generally limited to readily accessible (sound familiar) areas of the chimney structure, with additional requirements to insure the flue is clear. Readily accessible areas are those areas that can be reached for inspection or maintenance without the use of tools or ladders. A Level I inspection will include checking the basic appliance installation and connection, checking readily accessible portions of the chimney structure and flue, and determining that the flue is not obstructed.

**A Level I Inspection is the recommended level of inspection:
During annual chimney inspections

During routine service of the venting system, including chimney sweeping

Upon direct replacement of the connected appliance with one of similar type

At any other time an inspection is warranted, and conditions of use of the venting system are not changing (like during a home inspection)

It does not take but at few minutes to explain to the customer the scope of the Level I and II, but also allows the inspector to stress the importance of them following through on getting the Level II. I tell mine I am not qualified to perform the Level II but they should insist on having the chimney cleaned (which is part of the Level II) and inspected by a certified CSIA contractor.

Agreed 100%.

We’ll have to disagree. A level I gives that false an impression … A client could still light up (thinking “we got it inspected”), and have a major problem in the flue.

I don’t see how it’s differing since there is language for excluding systems…

If someone called up for simply a structural inspection, you would NOT have to inspect the roof, HVAC, Plumbing, etc.

That’s their problem. I told them in my report they should get a level 2 and the reasons behind it along with doing my level 1 inspection. If they still want to light up the fireplace without taking my advice atleast I know after reading about them in the local paper I did my job. Sad to say however you can’t hold everyone’s hand.

I’d rather have my client is alive in a few years to hire me to do their next inspection. :cool:

To be honest IMO your setting yourself up for additional liability. You can state one needs a level 2 all you want. Bottom line is in the event of a fire and say you somehow got dragged into a lawsuit I can see it now…

Judge: Sir do you have any rules or regulations that governs your profession.

You: Yes sir NACHI SOP.

Judge: What does the SOP state your responsibilty is in regards to a fireplace?

You: The inspector shall inspect:
A. the fireplace, and open and close the damper door, if readily accessible and operable;

Judge: And why did you not inspect the fireplace?

You: I don’t believe in it unless one can see the entire unit.

Judge: According to fire investigator the dampner was stuck shut. You failed to report this in your report. Mr. James (75yrs of age) lit a fire and smoke started to fill the room. Mr. James tried to open the dampner however it was defective. Smoke took down Mr. and Mrs. James and they are no longer with us. Again Mark tell me why you felt a level 1 inspection is not needed sir?

Billy…Mark is well within his rights to disclaim the fireplace and all of its components if he so chooses for whatever reasons he wants. By telling the client verbally and in his inspection report that the fireplace is not included is perfectly fine. I, however, do like Doug…a Level I with a recommendation to have a Level II performed by a licensed chimney sweep.

What good is our SOP then? My point if we don’t all follow it as a group then really what good is it? I understand he’s within his rights however as you know a judge will make a final decision and I would hate to see him in a tight spot because something as simple as the damper wasn’t looked at.

I’m curious that if you feel a Level II inspection is that critical to safety, do you not allow clients to schedule an inspection with you for a home with a fireplace without also scheduling a Level II inspection? Do you automatically subcontract a Level II inspector whenever you book an inspection for a home with a fireplace? Have you gone back to see what percentage of clients actually have a Level II inspection done vs. those that wind up going without any inspection whatsoever (I’m betting most wind up without any inspection)?

With all due respect, if you do not do any these things, your position comes off as more of a dodge of responsibility than a true concern for the safety of the client.

I agree that it’s your right to disclaim it, but I’m not sure I’m convinced it’s for the client’s best interest