Very old chimneys

1880 house with three chimneys, top visible portions “rebuilt” sometime but no rain caps ever present.

first picture is at one closed off fireplace, first clue…

then went into attic…
the bricks even crumbled in my hand around that hole.

then went into the crawlspace…
then got real scared…

The report basically stated:
Do not occupy the home until the chimneys are removed.
Do not purchase the home until estimates received for all removal work.
Install new piers to hold the beams up where the chimney did.
Replace all other old piers. (many were replaced already)

Anyone know about old bricks turning to sand like that?





Wow Bruce, great pictures.

I’m glad that was what the report “basically” stated. Hopefully the report was quite a bit more diplomatic. As a home inspector with E&O insurance, I would never tell someone not to occupy the home, or not to purchase the home. Those are serious E&O insurance no-nos.


For safety reasons, I wish I had said to not even go back there…

When I have a safety hazard or a safety concern, I simply put in my report, “Safety hazard” or “Safety concern.”

I use a 6-step process in my reports (not all six steps are always present):

State the problem.
State my concern (“Safety hazard”)
State typical causes of the problem.
State typical resolutions to the problem.
State typical results of ignoring the problem.
State my recommendation.

My E&O insurance co (FREA) has never communicated anything to me about how I am to write reports.

I think it is understood that the SOP(s) must be followed but other than that they evidently have no guidelines.

When working with insurance companies, be proactive, not reactive. For example, whenever I revise my contract, I send them a copy. When I add something to my report, I send them a copy. Whenever I revise my report, I send them a copy. I want to let them know that I am doing everything that I can to limit my liability and, guilty by association, their liability. I have found that in being proactive with them, I get feedback from them. And, perhaps coincidentally, my premium drops or remains the same year after year while the premiums for everyone else around me continues to go up, up, up. And it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with lack of claims. Now if you have a claim, I can guarantee you that your premium will, of course, go up.

64yrs old home

hole in chimney chase.jpg

I would never tell someone not to buy until the chimney is removed. Thats not up to you. State the facts. Make recommendations that a professional be contacted to assess and repair of remove. But to say don’t occupy, or don’t buy. Never, that can lead to a lawsuit.

I agree except when I am 100 percent sure it is very dangerous.
This was one of those times that for the safety of my client and to protect myself I made it very clear what was wrong and what had to be done.

Earl, what part of the chimney is that? The fireplace part??

Was your Client already living there? If not, then did you make the same recommendation to the seller or person who was living there? Safety is safety, after all.

Vacant house, owner just bought it at auction.

Auctions don’t normally provide for a home inspection contingency. So it sounds like he already purchased the house. Yet your very first post said this:

So now I’m confused. And I admit that I did have a margarita at 11:30.

Causes may include, improper mortar mix, you can bet the chimney given the age has had several fires over the course of the years, and its is most likely unlined. Rain entry would not help the mix.

There also appears to be possible wood contact with flue at the beam where it pockets the chimney.

Too much air and not enough limestone content. ???
Type N Mortoar in todays terms.

Marcel:) :slight_smile: :wink:


My client is purchasing from the owner who bought it at auction…
It’s an attempt at a quick flip or if not, the realtor said the owner will “fix it up” and sell it later.

Bruce, we’re friends so don’t take offense. But how does your recommendation square with the SC SOP?
“The residential inspector should take no position on value **nor make any representation as to advisability of purchase **or suitability to use.”


The intent of the SOP is to keep inspectors from advising against or for the purchase of a home.

I simply stated to research the costs of repairs before purchase, I did not advise whether to purchase or not.

It is the same context legally as this in my report:

It is recommended that reported systems be further evaluated and repaired before finalization of your purchase decision by a licensed specialist, who may identify additional defects or recommend upgrades during the process.

I always tell my clients that I do not know their financial situation, their tolerance level for problems or their ability to make repairs therefore I can not offer any advice about their decisions.

I’m with you.