Fireplace surround

Hello all. I’m hoping for some help on an inspection write up about something I find odd but don’t know if it is a deficiency or not. The home owner had an old wood burning fireplace and wanted to update it to look newer. She had a neighbor update it for her and installed a new surround. He left opening on both sides of it and put trim around the open areas. It seems odd to me but I don’t know if it is hazardous in any way. What’s your advice on a write up, if a write up is needed. Picture attached.

Thank you.

Do you have any more and better photos, such as further away?

I had a feeling that would be needed when I posted it. Unfortunately I don’t right now. But will be going back to the home tomorrow to pick up the radon test. I’ll snap some more pics then.
I also remembered that the home owner said that her neighbor said it was for a fan to blow air into and it would come out above the fireplace. She then proceeded to get a space heater and turn on the fan function through the side hole.

Well that’s not right.

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Call it out for a Level II inspection: Chimney Inspections - Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)


Red flag for sure. I’m looking forward to seeing the additional photos.


I agree with JJ, a Level II Inspection is needed.

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Adjust your camera’s white balance to take that blue tint out of your photos.

Thanks for all the replies so far. I got some extra photos today. Hope it helps. There is the opening on both sides. Supposedly it goes up to the vents on top. The fire enclosure inside is made all of metal, so I guess it does make sense to blow out warm air from around the outside of it, I just don’t know much about how these fireplaces work. Should I still write it up to get level 2 inspection? Or do these pictures shed light on it and look normal?

Please read Level II.

" A Level 2 inspection is required when any changes are made to the system. Changes can include a change in the fuel type, changes to the shape of, or material in, the flue (i.e. relining), or the replacement or addition of an appliance of a dissimilar type, input rating or efficiency. Additionally, a Level 2 inspection is required upon the sale or transfer of a property…"


That makes perfect sense. Thank you.

For lack of better information, I’m going to assume that the openings are for fresh air make-up, which is required to be taken from the exterior of the home, and NOT the room the appliance is operating in. Also, what happens when homeowner crap gets thrown in that area over time, and covers the openings?

This is why a Level II inspection is necessary.