Fireplace insert question?

I recently did an inspection where the property had a wood fireplace insert. Inside I found what appeared to be a quite rusty grid at the top sectionof the unit. The unit also had a lot of ash and soot. I took photos and recommended a cleaning and re-evaluation by a certified chimney tech to insure there was no further hidden damage. two days later I get a call from my clients RE agent saying that the seller and listing agent are literally freaking out because of my report on the fireplace. They assured us that the unit was only 2 years old, made of stainless steel, and couldn’t possibly have rust inside. I know it’s hard to determine things from photos, but, I thought I would post them just to see what anyone’s thoughts are on these findings of a fireplace insert. Thanks, Bob W





Why are they “freaking out”? It sure doesn’t take much to make some people come off the spool. Every fireplace should be cleaned and inspected prior to changing ownership. That is the recommendation of the National Fire Prevention Assoc.
They recommend a Level II for any home with a fireplace, wood stove, etc. that is involved in a Real Estate transaction. Besides, even if it is fine mechanically, no one wants to buy a home to turn around and have to pay someone to come in and clean up a fireplace to avoid a chimney fire. The unit has to be cleaned before they can perform a Level II. They just sound they are being cheap and don’t want to pay for it. It looks like you at least have some creosote built up that needs to be removed.

I have no problem with that call Bob. Even the “stainless” grills on a barbecue need to be changed out occasionally.

“Stainless” means nothing to fire and intense heat, and those inserts create some seriously high temperatures. Often, the temperatures will even exceed what the original fireplace is intended to handle.

Yup. What Jeff said.
Sure looks like rust and soot to me. Amazing that our cameras just happen to record what the sellers and agents swear is not there…

Oh, and like Jeff said, I’ve changed my “stainless” grills on the BBQ twice now. :wink:

Good to see you pop in from time to time Bob!

I generally just say this:

“Wood burning stoves and fireplace inserts by design have internal chambers, flues, dampers, etc. These devices are not examined to determine whether they need to be cleaned or whether they are adequate or safe for use. Wood stove clearances are determined by the manufacturer. It is recommended that the buyer obtain the operator’s manual and/or have these devices examined by a qualified professional. A wood burning stove prevents an examination of the fireplace and flue, so we recommend a thorough examination of the fireplace and chimney by a specialist.”

Thanks guys,
The replies are pretty much what I expected. To answer Doug’s question, “why are they freaking out?” Well, my guess is that the seller knows there’s more to the issue than cleaning and fears the chimney tech will end up costing him big bucks, as for seller’s agent, threat to his commision! Seems like around here they’ll try to sue you for getting the address wrong on a report, let alone believing you blew their sale. I got burned (pum intended), once a few years ago over a fireplace issue and had to go to court, thankfully, it turned out well but now I have fireplacestuphobia perhaps with a touch of liticaphobia!

Thanks, Bob W

That is what I thought. When they freak out, that is usually a good indicator there is something being hidden or they may suspect some problems will be uncovered. One thing, and it took me a few times to get this. YOU do your job, recommend what your gut tells you and let them freak out and do back flips all they want. If they don’t do it, it is not on you…you did your duty. That flipping out stuff is just a form of intimidation hoping to get you to question yourself. I already knew the answer but thanks for confirming it for me. If later the fireplace had a problem they would all throw YOU under the bus for not recommending at a minimum a Level II.