Fireplace problems may be inspector’s fault

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Dear Barry, We have an old deteriorated fireplace in a 1914 home. There are holes in the mortar, smoke stains on the mantle, numerous cracks in the exterior stucco, and the chimney actually moves when you push against it. When we bought the home last year, the only fireplace comment in the home inspection report was "no spark arrestor." If our inspector had disclosed these additional problems, we could have insisted that they be repaired. Now that we own the home, we're stuck with a nonfunctional fireplace. Shouldn't our inspector have seen these problems, and isn't he liable for the cost of repairs? --William Dear William, Based upon your description of the fireplace and chimney, your home inspector was apparently negligent in his inspection of those components. Home inspectors typically report deteriorated mortar and visible cracks. When smoke stains are apparent on a mantle, inspectors commonly point out that the fireplace may vent smoke into the home. Furthermore, most fireplaces m...