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With the cooler weather approaching, we tend to feel nostalgia looking forward to the holidays and enjoying the warmth and comfort of a crackling fire in the home fireplace. As a home inspector in Northeast Ohio, I understand how important this feature is to homeowners and potential home buyers. I also understand the importance of properly inspecting this structure to ensure years of enjoyment, while keeping your family and structure safe.

When I inspect a home with a chimney, I am preforming a level 1 inspection. This is the most common type of inspection and includes an examination of all readily accessible portions of the interior and exterior- including the chimney, fireplace, flue and connections. I am inspecting the overall structure and will alert homeowners/buyers to potential obstructions, creosote buildups, defects, cracks and water damage. I always tell homeowners/buyers that if they are using a fireplace for the first time, have modified the structure, or have switched from woodburning to gas (or vice versa) that they should have a level 2 inspection completed before using this structure.

A level 2 inspection should be conducted by someone who is CSIA (Chimney Safety Institute of America) certified. This more in-depth inspection covers chimney areas from the room, attic, basement or crawlspace and fireplace box. A camera is used to obtain imagery of the flue, chimney liner, mortar joints, damper and smoke chamber. A level 2 inspection also covers evaluation of the chimney stack, brickwork, cap/crown/cover, flashing and will address any waterproofing needs. If further attention is needed, then a level 3 inspection can be conducted. This type of inspection, while usually not needed, is much more in-depth and usually involves removing drywall or parts of the masonry to inspect and repair damage.

For occasional fireplace users, an annual inspection is usually sufficient. This yearly check will determine if you are need of a sweep, ensure that no animals have taken up nest in your structure, and visually check for structural integrity, such as cracked brick or missing mortar. For more information on chimney inspections or to address what needs your home or future home might require, call Integrity Home Evaluation Services today and start to prepare for the winter and family gatherings around your hearth.


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