Yes, as it turns out, someone who really did not know what they were doing built the fireplace, but it's there now, and it's up to me to do something about it -- which I did!
I hired a professional couple, and they've just this morning cleaned it (and many other things they're doing in my home). Now it looks very nice. The man of the couple told me to seal it with Thompson's water seal after a 24-hour curing period, so I'll be doing that myself, but what an improvement!
Yes, you almost always go wrong when you think you're getting a "real deal." I'm learning the hard way . . .
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