How Does a Chimney Inspection Work?

People today are hungry for information – that’s no secret. Homeowners in particular are always looking for quality insight on various aspects of caring and maintaining for the home. The smarter and more savvy we can be as homeowners, the more our homes (and market values) will benefit in the long run. There are so many cases of homeowners who neglected routine maintenance projects simply because they didn’t have the right information. Meanwhile, the consequences can be frustrating.

Chimney maintenance is a great example. It many not be the most important thing on your “to do” list, but putting it off until next year (or the next, or the next) can easily result in serious damages and safety hazards that compromise the physical and financial health of your property.

Sometimes, homeowners just need a little more information before they make the right decision. For instance, is a chimney inspection really necessary? If so, how does a chimney inspection actually work?

Good questions. The answer, of course, depends on the nature and design of your chimney. Regular chimney inspections are recommended across the board, even if you don’t think your chimney has had much use. Animal nests and other debris can pose an issue, even if your chimney is connected to a fireplace you never use.

There are four basic areas involved in a professional chimney inspection.

First, the contractor will carefully inspect your home’s interior and exterior to look for any obvious signs of structural damage around your fireplace, hearth, or the chimney itself.

Second, the chimney itself will be carefully inspected to ascertain that no fire hazard exists. A hazard may exist if the professional finds that combustible materials could come into contact with building materials.

Third, a detailed check for obstructions will take place. Again, this can be anything from an animal next to branches and leaves. The main purpose here is to make sure that nothing is blocking the chimney from property venting.

Fourth, it will be determined whether any combustible byproducts, such as creosote, have accumulated on the interior walls of the chimney, and whether this presents a fire hazard.

These are the basic elements of a chimney inspection, for which special tools and methods are needed. Video scanning of the chimney’s interior is also possible, and many professions employ this method.

In most cases, chimney inspection will go hand and hand with chimney sweeps, in which the chimney is properly cleaned inside and out. Since homeowners are recommended annual chimney sweeps, it makes sense that one routine maintenance visit per year could keep serious problems at bay.

There is a long list of safety and logistical reasons why DIY chimney cleaning is not a good idea in the vast majority of cases. Unless you have the right tools and knowledge, and are willing to accept the safety risks, it’s far more economical too bring in a seasoned professional who knows exactly what to look for, and what to do. Chimney maintenance in general is an underrated aspect of keeping the home safe and fully functional.

Contact a reputable chimney service specialist in your area for specific advice.