To put it plain and simple, if you have any chimneys in your home then it’s likely there are hidden flaws that a regular home inspection won’t find. If you’re looking to buy a new home, then don’t miss the opportunity to ensure your chimney is as safe as the rest of your house.
Read on to see what a chimney inspector can uncover to save you time, money, and even costly damage to your new home.
Home Inspections and Your Fireplace
Each year an estimated 22,300 chimney fires occur, causing an average of 20 deaths per year. Even if a fire doesn’t happen, a faulty chimney can be harmful to your health and cause structural damage to your home.
Real Estate Inspections
Real estate home inspectors have a wide variety of knowledge in home construction. From plumbing, septic, roofing, and … Chimneys! However, some are very knowledgable in specific parts and on others, they may only know the basics. Truth be told, we rarely hear of a real estate inspector who is very knowledgable in chimneys and fireplaces.
Often, we discover that while a home passed may have passed inspection, the flue passageway was never video scanned which must be done to tell the condition of the interior passageway of the chimney.
Knowledge is power. Do not let this happen to you. Before you purchase a home, make sure you hire both a home inspector AND a chimney inspector. Sure, it feels like an extra expense in the short term, but think of the long term consequences of an unsafe fireplace in your new home.
Hire a Certified Technician
A level II home analysis involves chimney inspection by a Certified Chimney Sweep Technician that specializes in examinations of fireplaces, flues, and entire chimneys. They go beyond looking at the exterior construction of the chimney to fully inspect the internal components. Which is critical because inside the chimney is where the hidden danger often lies.
A regular home inspector may look at the outside of a chimney and fireplace system, but this type of external evaluation only determines if there is noticeable damage that pertains to the whole house structure.
Using a certified chimney inspector (including but not limited to a home sale or transfer) will ensure your chimney is examined completely from top to bottom, inside and out. This includes the roof, video scanning of the flue interiors, the fireplace, and even areas where pipes travel through your home.
In order to understand how to properly inspect a chimney, the inspector needs to look within the interior of the chimney, specifically the flue liner. To see any damage done inside the chimney a camera attached to a set of flexible rods is put through the inner flue liner.
A level 2 type of inspection is required by the Chimney Safety Institute of America if a home is being sold. This is because interior damage can be hidden in a simple check of the “readily” accessible parts of the chimney such as the firebox, damper, crown, or cap.
Inspectors take photos and/or video footage to review mishaps in the flue, gas lines, and walls of the chimney. The method of internal exemption never removes parts of the chimney including bricks, panels, doors, or finishes. An inspector’s end goal is to see and evaluate the interior without compromising the original structure.
Check the Entire Structure plus Connections
Smoke and gas expelled from a chimney might navigate its way through attics, basements, crawl spaces and other parts of your home.
A thorough chimney and fireplace inspection will include these parts of your house in the procedure, unlike most real estate home inspections, which often do not. This is to ensure the entire system is functional and without damage.
The roof is also part of your chimney’s structure. It connects to your flue and exterior brickwork. Seasonal elements, fire and water damage will also affect parts of the roof. This can compromise the integrity of parts of your roof and even ceiling.
Detect Previous Fires
Not only can a chimney inspector determine how often the fireplace was used, but they can also see if a structure-fire occurred. Previous use of the fireplace may only have ash that needs removal, which can be a simple process that takes a few hours.
Fire damage from a chimney fire is a more serious repair, so it is essential to discover these conditions before closing the deal on your buyer or seller contract.
The heat caused by a flue fire leaves structures, metals, and fixtures very weak. (That’s assuming the home’s structures were not destroyed in the fire). Such damages like cracks in the clay tiles, disconnected flue pipes, corrosion, etc.
Roof damage by fire is a major investment since you might need to replace all of the shingles. Matching tiles and shingles to an old roof is sometimes impossible, making a new one the only option.
Also, you want to understand the reason behind the fires. Signs of previous fire might be a sign that the chimney is faulty and in need of repair even if the structure is safe and secure.
Ensure No Obstructions
A major cause of fire and exposure to smoke and gas is an obstruction of your chimney. The last thing you want when you purchase a home is to realize your fireplace or stove chimney is clogged, making it dangerous and inoperable.
Thorough chimney inspections identify small and large blockages in your flue and connecting parts. These might include bird and squirrel nests, leaves, and twigs. Blockages are also a result of creosote, a chemical mixture found on firewood and inside flue, from regular use of the fireplace.
A clear chimney allows this toxic carcinogen to flow out of your new home. Breathing it in when your chimney is clogged is harmful to your health. It is essential to clean the chimney to remove this build-up.
A common phrase we see home inspectors write on reports is: “Consult a chimney professional on cleaning/inspecting the chimney”.
This is not to be overlooked! It may mean that the inspector noticed that something is either wrong, defected, or just not quite right.
So, if you see a similar note on your home inspectors’ evaluation report, then it means they’re encouraging you to have it professionally looked at by someone that has the complete knowledge and will be able to properly diagnose the entirety of the chimney.
(It’s like the fireplace equivalent of a doctor referral to a specialist. Just call us the fireplace and chimney doctors😉 haha, just kidding! But it is essentially true as our Chimney Sweeps are trained specialists in fireplace and chimney venting systems.)
Find Water Damage
A broken chimney cap, rusted chase covers, brick damage, and defective flashing in your structure can lead to water damage. Discovering moist spots and weakened areas due to water damage can save your chimney from further deterioration.
Wet chimneys also lead to mold issues that create toxic air from mold spores. These moldy spots can spread to other parts of your new home eventually even if they aren’t detected right away.
If you have leak damage you’ll want help right away!
Official Condition Report
After your home is inspected by a chimney professional, they will create a full report of the condition of the home’s chimney. The report is useful to conclude the overall condition of your chimney. Damages are accessed to determine their magnitude and whether they can be fixed before closing on your home.
Inspectors also use the report to recommend repair and replacement options. They may suggest a complete remodel if the chimney is significantly out-of-date or damaged beyond traditional repair methods.
A remodel might be to your advantage since you can create a fireplace and chimney to your liking. It might be possible to switch from a gas to a wood-burning chimney or vice versa. Also, choose a more modern or classic look with all new materials. This will ensure that your chimney meets standard safety features.
Safeguard Your Home By Hiring a Chimney Inspector
The most important factor in using chimney inspectors while searching for a home is for your safety. You want your next house to be move-in ready without worrying about major hazards.
Real estate inspections are very informational but they often are a base/starting point to your next home purchase. Giving you the opportunity to take a closer look into the items that can’t be looked over by a traditional real estate inspection.
Don’t skip the level II chimney inspection services for your home. Visit our service page to get a quote today.
We are based out of Johnson Couny, Kansas and serve most of the surrounding cities. If you’re outside our local Kansas City Metro visit the Chimney Sweep Locator Tool to find a sweep near you.