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The back wall seems to still be solid, though I can't take it apart to check for sure. I don't have a sense for what this means - how essential is the inner wall? Seemingly it was never meant to totally keep the fire enclosed, as the inner sideplates seem to have always had a small crack between them and the inner backplate.

We've just moved into this apartment, so I can't say what it was like new.

fireplace back of fireplace

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    If the firebox is in that condition, I’d certainly worry about the condition of flue, particularly since it’s wood burning. Flue leaks cause fires. You also mention “apartment” tho which typically means there is a landlord—-who should be responsible... – Tyson Nov 9 '18 at 18:01
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The comment by Tyson could very well in itself be the answer.

We should not say "Yes" or "No" to the question "Is it safe to use?" because we do not know. We are only seeing one photo. There are much more important things to be inspected before using a fireplace. You can hire a service, and in some areas the local fire department will do the inspection. The fee is typically reasonable.

Is this the main source of heat for the apartment? Has the landlord exclusively included *(or exclueded) its use in the lease? Give the landlord a call to inquire if it is available for your use, and inquire when it was (if it was) inspected & cleaned last.

  • Yeah -- this is the kind of thing that'd require on-site eyeballs from a qualified chimney sweep, and probably some cleaning as well. – ThreePhaseEel Nov 19 '18 at 4:52
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That fireplace is unsafe. You can see the “box” is rusted through the back wall near the base. This will allow smoke to escape from the “box” rather than go up the flue. That smoke will circulate into the living space.

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