Why You Need Chimney Inspectors to Take a Look Before You Close on a New Home
When you’re buying a home with a fireplace, be sure to have a qualified chimney inspector take a look before closing the sale. The National Fireplace Protection Association (NFPA) recommends homeowners have a chimney inspection every year and chimney cleaning as necessary, but not all homeowners follow that advice. Since the seller may not have had a chimney inspection or cleaning recently, there may be hidden dangers in the fireplace and chimney, like creosote, flue obstructions, and water damage. A real estate chimney inspection will reveal potential structural, fire, and safety hazards and the associated cost of repairs to correct any issues before you close on the sale of your new home.
Home Inspection and Chimney Inspection
A general home inspection is a visual examination of the four major systems: structural, electrical, plumbing, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. While a home inspector will do a cursory review of the chimney and fireplace, they don’t have the training, tools, and expertise to conduct a comprehensive examination to assess the current condition of the flue, flue liner, and other internal components. Home inspectors and chimney inspectors have different certifications.
Many home inspectors are certified by the International Association of General Home Inspectors (InterNACHI). In contrast, chimney inspectors certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) follow the industry guidelines per the NFPA. A Certified Chimney Sweep ® has a thorough understanding of the chimney’s design and function and any attached heating appliances, including a fireplace and heating stove.
The Three Levels of Chimney Inspections
There are three levels of chimney inspections.
Level 1: This is the basic annual visual inspection that is recommended for most homeowners. It includes an interior and exterior visual overview of the chimney system and accessible areas of the fireplace or heating stove. The chimney sweep will also determine if chimney cleaning is necessary.
Level 2: A level 2 inspection is also known as a Real Estate Chimney Inspection. It is the chimney inspection recommended before the sale or transfer of a home. It encompasses everything in a level 1 inspection, plus a video scan of the flue. A video scanning is critical for determining whether there are any tiny cracks or other imperfections in the flue liner that may otherwise go undetected. Defects in the liner can increase the risk of fire and exposure to harmful fumes.
Level 3: When a level 2 inspection reveals the potential of a severe issue, the chimney inspector will recommend a level 3 inspection to determine the source such as a water leak, fire damage, or a structure issue. The chimney inspector may need to remove or dismantle specific components to enter an inaccessible portion of the chimney or heating appliance.
Chimney Inspection Report
The chimney inspector will provide the buyer with a comprehensive inspection report describing their observations. It will also include details and photos of any discovered issues and whether repair or replacement is necessary to correct any deficiencies. The buyer can share these findings with the seller, ask them to make the required repairs, or provide a credit at closing. Before you close on the purchase of a new home, make sure to hire a Certified Chimney Sweep® to conduct a level 2 inspection of the chimney and attached heating appliances.