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The Differences Between a Home Inspection and a Chimney Inspection

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Buying a home involves many steps, and one of the most important steps is the home inspection process. The majority of residential real estate contracts hinge upon the results of the professional inspection of the house. As a buyer, you need to know everything about the mechanics of the home you wish to purchase before the deal is made. If the perfect home you found has a fireplace, Magic Sweep strongly recommends that you also have a chimney inspection to guarantee the fireplace and chimney system functions both properly and safely. We are often asked about the differences between a home inspection and a chimney inspection, and we would like to explain to you why you need to have the fireplace and chimney inspected by a professional chimney sweep who has been certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA).

Home Inspections vs Chimney Inspections - Chesapeake VA

What sort of requirements do home inspectors follow in their inspections?

As stated by the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), a home inspector is there to perform a visual inspection and deliver a written report of the condition of a residential property for the buyer and the seller. Generally, the home inspector will examine the plumbing and electrical systems, the heating and cooling system, and the foundation of the home. As part of its professional services, ASHI developed a Standards of Practice to establish uniform guidelines for home inspectors to follow. The majority of homebuyers are often surprised to learn that these Standards of Practice actually declare that home inspectors are NOT required to inspect the interior of flues and chimneys. Respectable home inspectors should state in their reports that a certified chimney professional should clean and inspect the fireplace and chimney system.

What happens during a professional chimney inspection?

Established by The National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) in 2000, there are three distinctive levels of chimney inspections, and the details of these levels can be found within the code NFPA 211, the Standard for Chimneys, Fireplaces, Vents, and Solid Fuel Burning Appliances. Each level of chimney inspection was developed for specific situations. The most basic of these chimney inspections, the Level 1, consists of a visual examination of the areas of your chimney that can be easily accessed by the certified chimney sweeps from Magic Sweep. Our technicians will look for potential problems, such as large deposits of creosote accumulation and blockages of debris and soot, that could cause your chimney to not work properly and safely. Homebuyers will experience a Level 2 inspection, which involves a bit more detail that the basic Level 1. The NFPA requires a Level 2 inspection of the fireplace and chimney system of homes being purchased. This level of chimney inspection involves everything in the basic Level 1 but also includes our technicians utilizing special tools like a closed circuit camera. We will also take a look at the areas surrounding your fireplace and chimney, such as your roof, attic, and crawl space.

What is involved with a Level 3 chimney inspection?

When a home has experienced a chimney fire, it is required by the NFPA to have a Level 3 inspection performed. If you are unsure of the history of the home, the certified chimney sweeps at Magic Sweep can tell if the chimney has had a fire during the Level 2 inspection. Because it may require the tearing down and rebuilding of chimney walls to look for damage and other problems, a Level 3 inspection can be much more complicated and detailed. Keep in mind that safety issues are the top priority when it comes to chimney inspections.

If you are buying a new home with a fireplace, talk to Magic Sweep to schedule a professional chimney inspection to be sure the chimney and venting system works properly and safely.