Nothing says cozy quite like a roaring fire on a chilly winter's day. For hundreds of years, families have gathered around fireplaces in the home to keep warm, cook food, and socialize.
Today, fireplaces are not as commonplace as they once were, and in the modern-day home, they are admired for their aesthetic value more than anything else — but this doesn’t mean that they should be overlooked.
If you own a fireplace or dream about having one in your new home, there are several safety aspects to consider. Fireplaces can pose a serious safety risk if they are damaged or operated incorrectly, therefore it is crucial that you have your fireplace professionally inspected regularly.
Here is a list of five frequently asked questions regarding fireplace inspections, and what you need to know.
What is a fireplace inspection?
The aim of a fireplace inspection is for a professional to check that the fireplace and chimney are structurally sound and in safe working order. The certified inspector will look for any defects in the flue and firebox that can become dangerous if the fireplace is operated.
If a fireplace is not in safe working order, there is a chance that it could cause a chimney fire when used. Chimney fires are hazardous and can quickly spread to the roof of a home, causing significant damage.
When should you get a fireplace inspection?
Fireplace inspections should take place whenever you purchase a new property that has a fireplace and chimney and then once a year after that. If your fireplace and chimney are not performing optimally, this is also the time to organize an inspection.
If your new home has been empty for a while, or you have not used your fireplace in a long time, it is possible that birds may have built nests in the chimney or pests may have found their way in. This could clog your chimney chamber or flue and create a fire hazard.
Regular maintenance of your fireplace and chimney is the most effective way to stay on top of your systems and is a cost-effective way of ensuring it’s longevity.
What is involved in a chimney inspection?
There are several things that an inspector will look for to ensure that a fireplace is safe to use. At the most basic level, bricks and mortar should be in good condition, and the chimney should have a cap and a screen that prevents animals and weather elements from entering it.
The inspector will also check the flue liner and for evidence of cracked tiles. They will also conduct a visual inspection to look for excessive creosote buildup. Creosote is partially burned fuel that sticks to the walls of the chimney flue and is one of the leading causes of chimney fires.
If your fireplace has a blower, it should be cleaned of dust and hair buildup, as this can also become a fire hazard.
How much does it cost to get a fireplace inspected?
The cost of a fireplace and chimney inspection varies depending on the level of inspection required. There are three inspection levels, as stated by the National Fire Protection Association, and you can expect to pay anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars to several hundred.
A Level One Chimney Inspection is the most common inspection type and is the minimum requirement for any appliance or venting system.
A Level Two Chimney Inspection is more in-depth and is required when you are buying a new home or selling your existing home, and also if the chimney has experienced extreme weather or is used often and for extended periods.
A Level Three Chimney Inspection is the most comprehensive, and therefore, the most expensive. It is typically needed during the construction of a fireplace and chimney or to remedy any previously unknown defects. Level 3 Inspections are reserved for when a serious problem has been identified, and determination of appropriate repairs is required.
Do you need a carbon monoxide detector if you have a fireplace?
If your home has a wood-burning or multi-fuel stove, it is a building regulation requirement to have a carbon monoxide alarm installed in your home. Carbon monoxide is a highly poisonous gas that is odorless and tasteless and can harm anyone exposed to even small amounts.
Even if you don’t have a wood-burning or multi-fuel stove, it is still sensible to install a carbon monoxide detector if you have an attached garage or burn any fuel.
If you’re considering purchasing a home with a fireplace but aren’t sure whether it is the right move for you, consider reaching out to one of our Clever Partner Agents, who will be able to discuss the pros and cons with you as well as recommend a professional inspector.