Fireplace Maintenance and Safety Education

By
Home Inspector with NextDay Inspect

Is your fireplace safe?

A fireplace is a comfortable place for the family to gather around during a cold winter. Statistics show that fireplaces and chimneys cause over 23,000 serious domestic fires every year in the United States, resulting in over $110 Million in property damages and tens of fatalities.  These statistics show the importance of the annual chimney inspection.

Photo of residential chimney that is on fire.

The Chimney Saftey Institute of America(CSIA)  http://www.csia.org  states that even homeowners who do not use their fireplace should invest in an annual chimney inspection. This is because the home's other heating appliances release toxic fumes through the chimney and when it is clogged with debris, the toxic gases will backdraft into the home.

The main culprit for a chimney fire is the accumulation of creosote which is a thick gummy substance that is a byproduct of burning wood. Burning green wood or softwood with resin will increase the risk of creosote buildup. Chimney inspection cost between $100 to $300 and it can fall into one of two levels.

Level One Chimney Inspection:

The inspector will measure the fireplace all components, also the inspector will check and measure the clearance of combustibles from the fireplace, The inspection also will decide if a chimney sweep is needed.

The chimney sweep will be necessary in the case of debris blocking the air duct and in the case of creosote buildup. Birds, squirrels, leaves, toys, and other debris present a real and serious problem from causing a fire to trapping toxic gases in the house. In addition, the inspector will check the integrity of the chimney cap that fits over the flue and prevents debris and water from penetrating into the chimney.

Level Two Chimney Inspection:

This a more thorough inspection and it will require a chimney sweep and additional measurement on the roof for clearance around the chimney of any combustible material or structures.

It is highly recommended to hire a CSIA certified professional for a chimney sweep.  CSIA certified professionals are listed on the website http://www.csia.org

Get your chimney inspected and swept and enjoy the warmth of your fireplace and the hearth all winter.

Comments (2)

Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

Good Morning and thanks for the great information to share with us here in the Rain.  Make it a great day!

Jun 18, 2021 08:07 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

I find fireplaces to be amongst the most neglected parts of most homes (that and air filters and gutters).

Jun 19, 2021 05:22 AM