What Does Your Inspector Look For During A Chimney Inspection?

If you have a chimney in your home -- whether it vents a fireplace or wood stove -- it is important to have the chimney looked over once a year by a qualified chimney inspector. Doing so will ensure any safety issues are identified and can be repaired before they pose a threat to your family. But what will your inspector look for during this appointment?

Birds' Nests

Birds love building their nests in secluded places, and if the vent or cap on your chimney allows them access, they might build a nest inside the chimney. A nest can be dangerous when you light a fire; it may catch fire, and then the fire can spread to the chimney itself. If your inspector discovers a birds' nest, they should be able to remove it right then and there.


Leaves can also blow down the chimney, creating an obstruction that could catch fire. Your inspector will remove any leaves, and they may also recommend replacing or repairing your chimney cap with one that will do a better job of keeping leaves out. If there is a tree overhanging your roof, trimming it back (or removing it completely) is a good way to keep leaves out of the chimney going forward.

Creosote Buildup

If wood is too green when you burn it, or if the wood does not burn hot enough for some other reason, a black, tar-like substance called creosote may form on the walls of your chimney. Creosote is flammable and can lead to a chimney fire. If your inspector spots any of it, they will need to remove it before you can safely light a fire in your fireplace.

Structural Defects

A chimney inspector will also verify that your chimney is still strong and sturdy, and unlikely to be blown over in case of a storm or high winds. If there are some bricks missing or cracks in the masonry, they may recommend having the chimney repaired or replaced before you use it.

Safety Equipment

Finally, your inspector should make sure you have the proper safety equipment on hand to be operating a wood-burning fireplace or stove. This equipment includes a fire extinguisher, smoke detector, and a carbon monoxide detector. These items could save your life in an emergency, so don't skimp!

If you have any lingering questions about chimney inspections, reach out to a professional chimney maintenance company in your area.