Q: I live in an 18-year-old condo in San Mateo, Calif. It is on the top floor of a three-story building. When the condo just below me has a fire in the fireplace, I get noxious fumes–like when a candle has been snuffed–that continue as long as the fire lasts. The chimney pipes are separate but side by side and the same height. What should I do? A: Danger! When was the last time you or your neighbor had your chimney inspected or cleaned by a chimney sweep? Over 18 years, both fireplaces probably have seen many a winter fire. It's likely that you have a wood-burning zero-clearance fireplace with a triple-walled metal chimney. These units have been installed for many years as an economic alternative to brick fireboxes and masonry chimneys. Like their masonry counterparts, they re...
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