Having a fireplace in an apartment can be quite the luxury. But with that reward comes the responsibility of maintaining it. NY1's Jill Urban filed the following report.
It's one of the nicest amenities an apartment can have. Aside from heat, a fireplace can offer a sense of coziness and comfort. But a fireplace can also be the cause of big headaches.
"One of the great sources of controversy is the consequences of the use of a fireplace. While it may be a lovely amenity for you... it could become a source of smoke, odor or worse, a hazard to yourself and your neighbors," says Eva Talel, a real estate attorney with Stroock & Stroock & Lavan.
Talel says even though you may have a fireplace, it doesn't mean you can use it. Some boards have rules against using a fireplace even if there is one in the apartment.
If you are allowed to use it, you had better make sure it is in good working order before you do.
Architect Walter Melvin says you should bring in a professional to check all the working parts and have it fully inspected before you light it. He says sometimes experts are surprised by the things they find in old fireplaces.
"I’ve seen gas pipes, I’ve seen soil waste pipes, I’ve seen air conditioning duct work. A lot of electrical wiring, people put in wall sconces next to their fireplace and run the wires through the neighbors flue. Things need to be scanned and checked before you use them," says Melvin.
If something is wrong, you need to work out with the coop or condo or rental who is required to fix it and make sure it's up to code.
Even if you have a fireplace that you are allowed to use that’s in good working order, you should make sure you know how to use it properly. Fireplaces in apartment buildings are very different from those in a house, and problems often occur because of human error.
"You have to learn how to build a fire, build a small fire, have a fire extinguisher handy, provide fresh air intake because everything that goes up the chimney has to come in from somewhere else. So you may have to crack a window someplace. There are number of things you ave to do to be sure your fire is burning safely and not smoking up your house," explains Melvin.
So, if you own or are thinking of buying an apartment with a fireplace, make sure you understand the risk and responsibility to avoid any heated issues.