Why a Specialized Chimney Inspection Makes Sense for Home Buyers

The use of the inspection contingency is one of the most valuable parts of any home buying process. Unfortunately, many homebuyers today may not be fully utilizing this contingency. For instance, many prospective buyers may assume that having just a general home inspection is sufficient to uncover any potential hazards or repair issues in the home they want to purchase.

While this type of home inspection is certainly worthwhile to get general information about the condition of the home, as a whole, it is not designed to provide detailed information that may be critical to their safety, such as whether the home’s chimney or flue is in good condition.

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Specialized Chimney Inspections Pick Up Where the Home Inspection Leaves Off

During a standard home inspection, a general home inspector will typically provide a cursory, visual examination of the home’s fireplace and any easily visible parts of the flue and chimney. While this can be helpful in alerting the prospective buyers to obvious flaws or condition issues, such as missing bricks on the chimney’s surface or cracks on the face of the masonry fireplace, this type of inspection will not offer any real information about the condition of the interior of the flue or the actual safety, especially if they plan to use a fireplace or wood stove.

General home inspectors have to cover the entire home in the two-to-three hours typically allotted for most standard home inspections today. Since today’s average home is now reported to be more than 2,600 square feet, little time can be given to the type of in depth inspection needed to make sure the home’s chimney is in safe, operable condition for use with any type of heat source.

In contrast, a specialized chimney inspection performed by a certified chimney inspector will examine the entire chimney and flue structure, including both interior and outer surfaces. Chimney inspectors certified through the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) are trained and qualified to inspect all types of chimneys, including those used with oil and gas heating appliances, as well as those that burn wood or compressed pellets.

CSIA Chimney Inspectors Use State-of-the-Art Technology to Help Keep Homes Safe from Fire

Instead of just a cursory visual inspection, CSIA-certified chimney inspectors actually clean the chimney to ensure a more thorough examination of all surfaces. This is important because even a small buildup of creosote and ash inside the chimney structure is capable of concealing cracks, and heat damage that can greatly increase the chance of a home fire.

Once the surface is properly cleaned, the chimney inspector will use specially designed cameras inside the chimney to thoroughly assess its condition and look for any repair issues that may exist.

Annual Chimney Inspections Can Also Help Save on Heating Bills After the Purchase

In addition to including a specialized chimney inspection when purchasing a home, it is also important to understand how this type of inspection can help homeowners heat their homes more efficiently each year, as efficiency is a big priority for today’s home buyers. By scheduling a pre-heating season sweep and inspection, homeowners can make sure there are no clogs or undiscovered damage, or other issues that could cause their heating systems to work less efficiently or place the home at risk of fire.

Real Estate Professionals Can Help Buyers Ensure Their Homes are Safe for the Use of Alternative Heat Sources

Most prospective homeowners, particularly those who have never owned a home with a working fireplace, may not realize that the use of alternative heating sources that have not been inspected and approved can be unsafe, as well as problematic in other ways. In addition to possibly voiding a home insurance policy, the use of unapproved alternative heating sources, such as wood stoves, fireplaces or pellet stoves can also result in code violations that can impact their resale value later, when they attempt to sell the home.

Remember to Include a Specialized Chimney Inspection in any Inspection Contingency

Prospective home buyers who are currently shopping for a home that has one or more chimneys or flues, or  those who are already involved in negotiating a purchase for one, can help protect their home, family, and save money on unexpected chimney repairs by remembering to include a specialized chimney inspection as part of their home inspection process.