Dear Barry: We have a gas log fireplace in our home and would like to have real wood fires. Would it be safe to remove the gas logs and burn real logs instead? –Dave
Dear Dave: Before making changes to your fireplace, you should determine the type of fixture that you have, as well as its internal condition.
If it was originally built as a wood-burning fireplace and then converted to a gas log setup, it may be possible to return to solid-fuel use.
This would depend on the extent of the conversion and the reason the conversion was made. For example, if the firebox or the damper assembly was altered, wood-burning use may no longer be safe.
If a metal flue liner was installed, the liner may not be suited for the high temperatures produced by solid-fuel combustion. If the conversion was made because the firebox or the chimney was damaged, a return to wood combustion may not be possible without making costly repairs.
It is also possible that the fixture was never intended for solid fuel. It may have been specifically manufactured as a gas-burning appliance. If so, it should not be used with any fuel other than gas — no exceptions.
Altering the intended use of a gas fireplace could damage the unit and cause a fire in your home.
Before making any changes in the way your fireplace is used, have it thoroughly inspected by a certified chimney sweep to ensure that all such changes are safe and in full compliance with applicable requirements. Otherwise, your home itself could become a "fire place."
Dear Barry: Five days after buying our home, the sewer backed up and ruined the new carpet and the drywall in our basement. The sellers never disclosed any plumbing problems, but our plumber said they must have known because the roots in the piping were so bad.
The sellers’ Realtor now says that she knew there had been some plumbing problems and had advised the sellers to disclose it. What are our legal options? –Leslie
Dear Leslie: The Realtor for the sellers should have done more than advise the sellers to disclose. She should have made sure that the sellers’ disclosure statement contained that information.
Furthermore, she should have included that information on her own disclosure form. Failure to do so was a significant breach of her responsibility as a professional Realtor.
As for legal options, the answer varies from one state to another. You should consult an attorney for the answer to that question.
Dear Barry: We are buying a brick home that was built in 1960. The bedrooms have high windows, with sills above 5 feet. Are these legal today? If not, what are people doing about such windows? –Robert
Dear Robert: Bedroom windowsills that are higher than 44 inches are not legal for new construction or for window replacements, but in older buildings they are "grandfathered."
The problem with high windowsills is that they impede emergency exit. Upgrade is recommended, but due to costs most people do not make these kinds of alterations unless they are involved in major remodeling.