M.B. from Fairfield County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
We have a gas fireplace in our condo. Recently we were notified that the fireplace vent outside has warped the siding around it. Our association had told us to get our fireplace cleaned and checked. We had a reputable company come and service it. They found it to be very clean and working perfectly. They said the vent was too close to the siding and should be extended a bit out. Our association is telling us that even though it is outside our unit and that was the way it was built, it is our responsibility to pay for changing the vent. Is this our responsibility?
Mister Condo replies:
M.B., in a word, “yes”, it is your responsibility to make the repair. That being said, the initial developer may bear some responsibility as well but that will entail you asking for the builder to make it right and/or bringing suit against the developer for a construction defect. Depending on how old your unit is and whether or not you can easily track down the developer that might prove quite challenging.
My larger concern is for your safety. If your fireplace vent is generating enough heat to warp siding, it might be capable of starting a fire as well. That would be tragic for you and your fellow unit dwellers. I strongly urge you to cease using your fireplace until you get this matter resolved.
Do you have an estimate for the repair? If it is for a large enough amount of money you should seek counsel from a qualified attorney who can better inform you if it is worth bringing suit against the developer. If the repair can be done for less than $2500, I think I would just advise you to get it done so that you remain safe and your fireplace vent is not longer a threat to the safety of you and your neighbors. Best wishes!