6 things to check during a fireplace inspection




If you’re a new homeowner you most likely had your home inspected. These home inspections are a must and very informative. However, they are general and can’t really dig into a home that is still for sale. If you have a fireplace we highly suggest you have a fireplace inspection by a professional. Your chimney should be swept and checked for leaks, caps, liners, crevices, and damage inside and out. After all, you’re starting a fire in your home and the point is for it stays contained and to keep you and your home safe. These professionals will not only clean the chimney of built up creosote but will alert you to defects in the flue or firebox that can be downright dangerous.

There are a lot of bad things that can happen with a  malfunctioning fireplace — the worst being a chimney fire that can spread to the roof structure and cause major damage.

Here’s a list of things a good chimney sweep will inspect:

  • There should be a cap (Stainless Steel Chimney Cap preferred) with a screen on the chimney to prevent weather elements from coming down the chimney. This also prevents birds or other critters from nesting there possibly blocking the chimney or getting into your house!
  • They will look at the condition of the bricks and mortar. It’s possible the bricks exposed to the weather need to be reset, The mortar needs repairs and pointing, of a host of other problems like spalling and efflorescence. These are much less costly to repair if caught early and your chimney may be saved with a simple waterproofing.
  • The sweep will check out the flue liner (again hopefully a stainless steel liner) and note excessive creosote buildup or cracked flue tiles. If the chimney hasn’t been swept recently (it probably hasn’t) they will recommend that it be cleaned before laying your first fire of the season. The leading cause of fires from wood-burning fireplaces, inserts or wood stoves is creosote deposited on the walls of the chimney flue.
  • If the fireplace has glass doors, the sweep should inspect the gasket material around the door opening. Defective gaskets should be replaced to ensure proper operation of the fireplace. They should also check for airflow to make sure your fire is burning at optimal temperature and leaving less creosote residue. This is especially important if you have an insert or a wood stove, which are meant to be airtight. If an airtight appliance is operated without these gaskets effectively sealing the openings, excess air can leak into the firebox creating an over-fire condition, which may permanently damage the appliance. These are not the types of services that come with a general home inspection.
  • As part of the service, the sweep should clean the fireplace blower if you have one. Blowers do not have a filtering system so they can become clogged and less efficient from dust, hair, and small debris. Excessive dirt will shorten the life of the blower and maybe a fire hazard.
  • The inspection may reveal broken or deteriorated brick lining in the firebox. Replacement of the damaged bricks may or may not be necessary depending on the severity.

While this is going on Replace the batteries and test any smoke or carbon monoxide detectors you have in your home to ensure these monitors are operating properly.