The Importance of a Chimney Inspection

chimney inspectionsMany new homeowners neglect to get their chimneys inspected before moving in. This can lead to safety hazards, expensive repairs, and a higher risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Chimney Inspection Charleston SC should be an integral part of every homebuyer’s checklist. A simple visual check-up can uncover hidden problems that could be costly to fix later.

Chimney inspections are the only way to know for certain whether a fireplace and chimney system is in good condition. Chimneys and fireplaces are the second most common cause of home fires, and a chimney that is not regularly cleaned can develop dangerous problems such as a chimney fire or allow toxic vapors to back up into the house. These problems are often attributed to a lack of regular chimney cleaning and can be prevented with an annual chimney inspection by a certified chimney sweep.

During a Level I inspection, the certified chimney inspector will check all parts of the chimney that are easily accessible. This includes examining the fireplace and chimney from inside the house as well as outside of the house, atop the roof and in the attic and crawl spaces. The chimney system will also be scanned with a specialized camera that is inserted up the chimney flue. This can help a certified chimney sweep identify potential safety hazards such as creosote buildup, obstructions and leaks.

The professional chimney inspector will also check the condition of the masonry, metal fireplace and chimney components and the fireplace and chimney connections. They will look for damage or deterioration, including cracks, rust and water damage. They will also inspect the chimney for a draft that is too strong or too weak, which can lead to a chimney fire. Finally, they will examine for blockages in the flue caused by leaves, twigs or small animal nests. Chimney inspectors will remove any obstructions that are preventing proper ventilation of the chimney system.

A Level II chimney inspection is a more thorough examination of the fireplace and chimney. This inspection is recommended when there have been changes to the chimney or heating system, such as a change in fuel type or relining, and after significant events, like an earthquake or a chimney fire. It is also recommended before selling a home. This inspection allows homeowners to assure buyers of the condition of the chimney and fireplace system and can reduce negotiations based on hidden issues or unforeseen repairs.

A Level II inspection is a more thorough examination of the entire chimney system, including parts that are normally hidden from view. This type of inspection is a must if you have recently made major changes to your fireplace or chimney, if there has been a structural issue (like a chimney collapse) in the past, or if you plan to sell your home soon.

During this inspection, the inspector will access your attic, crawl space and basement as needed to visually examine the concealed areas of the chimney. The inspector will look for signs of damage or deterioration, such as water leaks, chimney flashing issues, and structural problems. The inspector will also check the interior of your chimney to assess its overall condition and make sure that it is in good working order.

Chimney fires are one of the biggest dangers associated with a fireplace. These fires are mainly caused by creosote, a dark, tar-like substance that builds up on the walls of the chimney over time. Creosote is highly flammable, so it’s important to have it removed regularly. A Level II chimney inspection will uncover the buildup of creosote and identify any issues that might be affecting the chimney’s structure.

The inspector will also look for obstructions in the flue, such as twigs, leaves and small animal nests. These can prevent proper air flow, which can cause smoke and toxic carbon monoxide to back up into your home. Carbon monoxide is a deadly gas that can be hard to detect, which is another reason why you should have your chimney inspected semi-regularly.

A chimney is a complex system that contains a number of combustible materials. Because of this, it is prone to structural damage and deterioration. It is important to have your chimney inspected regularly by a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep(r) to catch any damage early and prevent costly repairs in the future. In addition, most homeowners insurance policies require a yearly chimney inspection to qualify for coverage of chimney-related damage and accidents.

Chimneys that are not properly capped, lined or maintained can become susceptible to obstructions like sticks and leaves. These obstructions can block a chimney’s flow and cause smoke back-up. In addition, untreated creosote build-up can pose fire hazards and reduce a chimney’s efficiency. A chimney cap and a well-maintained chimney liner can reduce the risk of obstructions, but an annual inspection is still necessary to ensure proper ventilation and prevent carbon monoxide leaks.

A Level II inspection is more comprehensive than a standard chimney inspection. It involves a more thorough visual examination of the entire chimney and connections to heating appliances. Additionally, a chimney sweep may scan the interior of your chimney flue using specialized equipment. A video scan can identify blockages, deterioration and inefficient venting that may not be apparent to the naked eye or during a basic chimney inspection.

This level of inspection is recommended when there has been a change to the chimney, such as a new fireplace or a new fuel type; if a home has recently experienced a natural disaster like a severe storm or chimney fire; or if you are preparing to sell your home and want to make sure that it’s safe for future buyers.

If a problem in an inaccessible portion of the chimney is suspected during a Level 1 or Level 2 inspection, a Level 3 inspection may be required. This is a more extensive inspection that may include a partial chimney tear-down to inspect for more severe damage. A Level III inspection is also a good idea before you close on a new home to find out if any repairs are needed to make sure that the fireplace and chimney are safe for use.

Fireplaces and wood-burning stoves are the second most common cause of house fires, according to the National Fire Prevention Association. Regular, professional chimney inspections can help prevent these hazardous situations, keeping your family and property safe. Schedule an inspection by a CSIA-certified chimney sweep today! You’ll enjoy the warmth of your fireplace without the worry that comes with a fire that’s not properly functioning or a chimney that’s dangerously damaged.

When fireplaces are used regularly, creosote deposits can accumulate. This gummy substance is made from unburnt wood vapors and can be quite flammable. If it isn’t removed by professional chimney sweeps, it can cause a fire or block the flue. It can also allow smoke and dangerous gases, like carbon monoxide, to return into the home instead of venting outside. An annual inspection can ensure that the flue is not blocked and that it is working properly.

In addition to creosote, a blockage can occur because of birds’ nests, leaves, or other debris that has become stuck in the chimney. It can also happen due to deteriorating components, which can allow water in. This can damage or weaken the structure of the chimney and lead to chimney collapse. An annual chimney inspection can help catch these problems and repair them before they get worse.

Whether you have an oil-burning fireplace or a wood-burning one, it is vital that you schedule regular chimney inspections. There are many reasons why you should do this, from preventing expensive and hazardous damages to ensuring the safety of your family and friends.

While chimneys may look sturdy and self-sustaining, they can be fragile and need to be inspected on a regular basis. This is especially important if you live in an area with high rainfall, as moisture can wreak havoc on chimneys and fireplaces alike.

Performing a chimney inspection isn’t difficult. There are many qualified professionals who offer these services. It’s just a matter of finding the right fit for you and your home. Before choosing someone, you should check their credentials and certifications. These are like stamps of approval and will give you confidence that they have the proper skills and training to perform a quality chimney inspection. Once you find the right professional, scheduling your annual chimney inspection will be easy and keep your family safe this winter.