If you are up to the task, inspecting your chimney once or twice a year will go a long way to prevent many serious or potentially hazardous issues. Chimneys serve two primary purposes, exhausting the fireplace and exhausting any HVAC systems. Inspecting your chimney yourself can save some money and keep your home safe. Here’s what to consider if you choose to do your own inspections:


Inspect the exterior surface of the chimney from the ground if your home was built with the chimney structure beside the home. If it is brick or stone, note any cracks in the mortar. Is the chimney straight? Is it pulling away from the home? Clear any moss, tree branches or shrubs from the chimney surface as plants retain moisture and can cause bricks to deteriorate if they are in constant contact. If you are comfortable on a ladder, climb up and check the upper portion of the chimney’s masonry. Look for deteriorating concrete crowns or rusting chase covers/caps. Assess the condition of the flashing of the chimney if it protrudes from the roofline and above.


Use a strong flashlight to illuminate the firebox walls. Look for any gaps or cracks in the masonry inside of the firebox. Next ensure your damper is open. This is located just above the firebox. Make sure there is not any debris or obstructions, such as falling leaves or bird nests. The first surface you will see above the damper is called the smoke-chamber. This area should appear smooth and without any gaps, cracks or holes. Bumps, ridges, and bubbly surfaces or thick, scale-like buildup may indicate creosote build-up. Any irregularities are worth further inspection – *creosote goes through stages as it accumulates and dries; therefore it may not appear exactly as described here. Do not use your chimney until it is cleaned if it appears there is creosote build up in the smoke chamber or further up in the flue system.

If you see anything that seems out of the ordinary, don’t hesitate to give us a call. Our Chimney Outfitters can provide a thorough inspection and cleaning of your chimney and flue, providing you with a complete report and suggestions for any issues they may uncover during the assessment.