This post is about solid fuel burning appliances and potential chimney fires. Solid fuel appliances are usually wood burning fireplaces or stoves, including inserts. The chimney serving these appliances should be cleaned every year. The picture below shows a chimney with major creosote buildup. The very next fire in the stove could be the one to set off a chimney fire; and chimney fires often burn houses down!
What does all this mean for a home buyer? It certainly means you would need to have the chimney cleaned before ever lighting a fire in the stove.
The National Chimney Sweep Guild recommends a level II chimney inspection any time the ownership of a house changes. This is a much more stringent inspection than can be performed by a home inspector. This inspection must be performed by a certified Chimney Sweep. There are two companies in this area who carry this certification: Haulin Ash and The Chimney Sweep.
Thanks for reading.
David Helm, Bellingham, Washington home inspector