Home Improvement

What Does A Chimney Inspector Look For?

As the weather starts to cool, many people have their chimneys inspected. Most homeowners know it’s a good idea to undertake chimney inspection when buying a home and want to make sure it will burn safely and efficiently.

But what does a chimney inspector look for? And how do they know if your chimney requires repair? The inspector wants the chimney to be in good shape. The more problems the inspector finds, the more likely it will cost you.

If your chimney is not inspected regularly, it could pose serious risks. For example, a crack in a chimney can be dangerous. Here are some of the things a chimney inspector looks out for.


A chimney is designed to allow gas produced by burning fuel to pass up out of the house. Unfortunately, some cracks can allow the gas to seep back down into the house. This is bad because it can lead to an explosion inside the house. 

Even without an explosion, cracks can increase your risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. That’s why regular inspections are essential.

The trouble with cracks starts when they get too big. According to the chimney inspector, any crack more than half an inch long needs to be repaired. If the cracks are more than one-half inch long, you need to replace the chimney lining completely.

A few small cracks aren’t cause for great concern; they can be repaired easily enough and don’t represent much risk. It’s when the cracks start getting longer that you have to worry.

Soot build-up

The most common problem a chimney inspector will find is soot build-up. Soot is produced when smoke passes through a flue and gets trapped inside the walls of the chimney. If a chimney is not cleaned regularly, soot can build up on the inside of its walls and eventually weaken them.

To check for soot build-up, an inspector uses an industrial vacuum to suck out any loose ash or soot that may be present. He then examines the lining of the chimney with special cameras that can see behind thick layers of crud. 

If he finds any problems, he recommends repairing them as soon as possible to prevent further damage. 


A chimney’s flue is another important part of its structure that should be checked during every inspection. The flue channel leads smoke away from the fire chamber where it’s produced and carries it to an opening in the top of the chimney where it can be released outside.

A sign that there is a problem with the flue is an increase in creosote accumulation inside the actual chimney or a build-up of soot on the walls of it. 

This might indicate a blocked flue or something such as a cracked surface on its interior. That would allow gases to escape instead of being drawn up and out of the chimney. So, this may be a sign that there is something wrong with your chimney’s flue as well.

Bottom Line

The best defense against chimney fires, cracks, or other problems is scheduling regular inspections with a qualified chimney cleaning services Upper Marlboro. Regular inspection will allow you to avert risks early in advance.

Here are a few things to keep in mind before your next chimney inspection. First, are you using the fireplace or chimney? If so, how frequently? These questions and more will help determine if you need a chimney inspection service. Homeowners should also clean their chimneys on occasion to ensure they are not being used as an alternate flue.