Setting Proper Expectations for an Annual Chimney Inspection
Sometimes an annual chimney inspection is thought of like a dental appointment; it’s been too long and so there is bound to be an issue. The issue turns into a root canal in your mind so you just keep putting it off. Then one day, a toothache starts and you don’t have a choice; you have to make the call.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. What we know is the more you keep on top of potential issues, be it dental, medical or with your home, the less it costs because you normally find problems early on and can take care of them before they become big problems. This is exactly what a chimney service company does when they come out and perform an inspection on your system.
And I would bet that you make sure you have brushed your teeth and made an extra effort to freshen your breath before you go to that dentist appointment so don’t be surprised that you get a chimney sweeping down prior to the inspection. Your sweep will need to be able to look at the walls of the flue and firebox after as much debris is removed as possible. It’s hard to inspect otherwise.
There are 2 levels that will be done when the system is in working condition. The Level 1 inspection is done visually with hand tools and flashlights and is done by looking as far up in the chimney from the firebox and down from the crown to see if there is any damage, creosote buildup or other potential blockages like nests and debris that need to be removed. If we find something that looks like we it could be an issue, we simply go to a level 2 inspection. If compared to a dentist, this would be getting an x-ray and like some dentists, some chimney companies start here so they have a good idea of what they are starting with.
The chimney sweep will use a video camera and lower it down the flue taking pictures of anything they see that should be looked at closer. The camera gives a 360 degree view from top to bottom and is very good at picking up potential issues as well as giving your system a clean bill of health! The good news is either way you get to know your system from top to bottom.
Another thing you should do is be present when they do the inspection and ask questions. Find out what type of appliance you have, how old is it, what’s the average life expectancy of your unit, is there anything you can do to make it more efficient, etc. These guys are pros and they work on these units all the time so don’t be afraid to ask anything and everything you want to know about your fireplace and chimney.
It is recommended that you have your system inspected annually. Of course if you never burn anything in your fireplace you can adjust this but don’t forget about it. There are things like animals and debris that can become a problem even though you never have a fire. On the flip-side, if you are a power burner and have a fire all the time then you will need to make arrangements to have a good sweeping and inspection more often. Common sense should take precedence here and if you have any additional questions or concerns take those to your local chimney service professional.