For safety and preventative maintenance, it is recommended to have a fireplace at least once a year. But there can be other reasons to schedule an inspection for your fireplace. If you are planning on selling or buying a home, a fireplace inspection provides important insights into the conditions of the home.
New fireplaces should be inspected, but this is even more important in homes that are more than a decade or two old.
Several issues can arise from a faulty fireplace. Here are some of the most common mishaps that can be prevented with a regular chimney inspection:
Chimney Cap Mishaps — the chimney cap is an important feature of a functioning fireplace. This barrier protects the interior of the chimney from dampness, debris, and small animals that may seek shelter in the flue.
Chimney Bird Health Risks — the ‘chimney swift’ is attracted to unused chimneys and can leave a host of droppings that can pose a serious health risk to the home’s occupants. Histoplasmosis can cause flu-like symptoms including sudden weight loss, chest pains, etc.
Chimney Fires — chimneys can collect leaves, debris, animal, droppings, and creosote. If not cleaned out properly, these foreign elements can suddenly combust causing a dangerous chimney fire.
Creosote Poisoning — creosote is the build-up of partially burned fuel that can collect in the chimney as it is thrown upward by the heat of the fireplace. When this collects in abundance, it can cause eye redness, skin irritation, and respiratory issues.
To avoid the many mishaps that can occur from an unkempt chimney, regular inspections can alert you to dangers and the need for special attention. Catching small issues early is the best way to manage a safe and economically friendly fireplace.
Chimney inspectors will offer three levels of progressively more intense inspection. The age, conditions, recent weather conditions, structural changes, and time since the last inspection will determine which level of the inspection your chimney requires.
Level One — if your chimney has not given you any heartache and you have not made any changes to the vent system, the Level 1 chimney Inspection will be just fine. The inspection covers all the elements of the fireplace that can be easily seen and accessed. The inspector will also ensure that there are no obstructions.
Level Two — if it has been some time since the last inspection, or you are concerned about the conditions of your fireplace due to extreme weather conditions, incidents, structural changes, or if you are planning a resale Level 2 is the option for you. The Level 2 Chimney Inspection covers all included in the Level 1 inspection and more. The inspector will examine the inner flues, the joints, and the flue liners.
Level Three — if the chimney in your home may contain a hazard, or the inspector is not able to examine certain concealed elements of the fireplace, the Level 3 Chimney inspection is in order. Special tools and equipment will be applied to perform an exhaustive examination of all components of the chimney. Sometimes rebuilding may be required.
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