If you are purchasing a home with a fireplace, you should definitely get a chimney and fireplace inspection. We recommend a level two chimney and fireplace inspection as that is the standard recommendation when purchasing a new home. A malfunctioning fireplace or chimney can lead to very bad situations including having a fire spread to other parts of the home. This can lead to serious home damage and in some situations, loss of life.
Here is a list of things that would be included in a level 2 inspection:
- Inspector to ensure that the cap is intact on the chimney to keep critters and birds out and prevent rain and snow from coming down the chimney.
- Examine the chimney exterior
- Examine the chimney interior
- Examine the attic, crawlspace and other accessible areas
- Inspector will check the flue liner to see if there are any cracked flu tiles
- Inspector will check for damage to the joints in the chimney’s structure
- Inspector will note excessive creosote buildup as this buildup is the leading cause of fires
Keep in mind that experts recommend that you have your fireplace and chimney inspected and cleaned every year. So, if you are going to own this home, you really should be doing this anyway. Usually the inspections include cleaning as well. So inspections are a wise investment as you can be assured that you can safely use the fireplace in your new home when it gets cold.
When hiring for a chimney and fireplace inspection or repairs, we recommend hiring a certified chimney sweep. This designation from the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) has become an industry standard.
There are 3 levels of inspections for chimney and fireplace inspections. These inspection levels were classified by the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) and considered the standard by which chimney sweeps work. They are not specific to whether you are purchasing the property or the current owner. It is recommended that a buyer get a level two inspection unless there is a situation that would warrant a level three inspection. Here are the different levels and the particulars of the classifications by the NFPA.
Level One Inspections are recommended for a chimney under continued service, under the same conditions, and with the continued use of the same appliance. This is the most common type of chimney inspection. This type of examination includes inspecting portions of the chimney exterior, portions of the chimney interior, and accessible portions of the appliances and chimney connection. The inspection should also verify that there are no obstructions or combustible materials in the chimney. Basically, the chimney sweep will be examining the chimney to ensure the basic structure in intact and there are no visible signs of damage. Depending on where you live this inspection can range from $79 to $200.
Level Two Inspections are more in-depth inspections and recommended if you are making any changes in the way you use your chimney, such as changing the type of fuel used, relining the flue, or if there have been any accidents causing damage. These inspections include everything in Level one inspections plus the accessible portions of the chimney exterior and interior including attics, crawl spaces and basements. This inspection will address proper clearances from combustibles in accessible locations. This inspection requires no specialty tools and includes a visual inspection by video scanning or other means to examine the flue liners within the chimney. Depending on where you live the cost can range from $100 to $500.
Level Three inspections include all things done in levels one and two inspections plus removal of certain components of the building or chimney where necessary. This type of inspection is the most comprehensive type of chimney inspection. This level of inspection allows the chimney inspector to gain access to harder to reach areas for a more detailed inspection. Level three inspections are required to determine the condition of the chimney system. Depending on where you live the cost can range from $1,000 to $5,000 and depends on the size and location of the chimney.