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Buying and Selling Your Home? Schedule a Chimney Inspection!

Buying/Selling A Home?

  1.  Home Inspector says you need to have your chimney swept.
  2. Chimney Sweep says you need an inspection with that sweep.

But you’ve already paid for an “inspection”…Or have you?

Buying or Selling a House - Spartansburg SC - Blue Sky

Technically, you’ve had a “home” inspection. By reviewing the ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors) standard for what a home inspection provides (and what its limitations and exclusions are), we can find out

  1. Why a home “inspector” might state that you need to have your chimney cleaned.
  2.  Why a chimney sweep might say that you need to have your chimney inspected even though your home inspector has presumably already “inspected” it.

Here is how it works….pretty much:

  •  If, during the home inspection, the chimney is dirty, the home inspector can’t see the surfaces of the smoke chamber and the flue liner because they are covered in creosotedeposits. So he can’t “inspect” it. It will have to be cleaned before an inspection can be performed. His standard says that he doesn’t have to “inspect” anything that is not readily accessible. If he can’t see it, it’s not accessible and he’s off the hook. However, he protects himself and his company by telling you that you need to have the chimney cleaned. He’s done his job as his standard dictates and the problem is passed on to someone else.
  • If you call a chimney sweep, and if he’s CSIA certified, his standard says that he has to go by NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) Standard 211. This standard says that fireplaces/chimneys that are part of a property sale (among other things) must undergo a Level 2 inspection. This inspection requires a video scan (among other things). Here are those parameters quoted in part.


“Level 2 Inspections –A Level 2 inspection is required when any changes are made to the system. Changes can include a change in the fuel type, changes to the shape of, or material in, the flue (i.e. relining), or the replacement or addition of an appliance of a dissimilar type, input rating or efficiency. Additionally, a Level 2 inspection is required upon the sale or transfer of a property or after an operation malfunction or external event that is likely to have caused damage to the chimney. Building fires, chimney fires, seismic events as well as weather events are all indicators that this level of inspection is warranted……..”

So…here’s the bottom line:

Unfortunately, if you really want to know what’s so about the chimney you are buying/selling, you will probably have to pay for TWO inspections. Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps |Bless Your Hearth technicians are extensively trained to perform all levels of inspection as outlined in NFPA Standard 211. Feel free to give our office a call or an email if you would like more information about CSIA certification, Levels of Inspection or would just like to book an appointment for inspection and/or sweeping.

How Often Does a Chimney Need Cleaning?

Short Answer:  When it needs it.

Therein lies the rub.  Who gets to say when it needs it?  Technically any creosote build-up in the chimney puts it at risk for a chimney fire. We’ve been doing this close to 36 years and we’ve seen a chimney catch fire within two weeks of being swept. It can happen if all the right circumstances fall into place.  

Chimney Sweep - Spartanburg SC - Bless your hearth

Reality is though, if one uses their fireplace/chimney regularly, it’s not thought reasonable to require that one should sweep the chimney weekly or monthly or anytime you get a little soot build-up in the flue; so what is one to do?  We choose to defer to the recommendations of the experts.  In this case, we will look to the advice of National Fire Protection Association and Chimney Safety Institute of America.  See an excerpt quoted from their website here:  

Q. How often should I have my chimney swept?

This a tougher question than it sounds. The simple answer is: The National Fire Protection Association Standard 211 says, “Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary.” This is the national safety standard and is the correct way to approach the problem. It takes into account the fact that even if you don’t use your chimney much, animals may build nests in the flue or there may be other types of deterioration that could make the chimney unsafe to use.

The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends that open masonry fireplaces should be swept at 1/8″ of sooty buildup, and sooner if there is any glaze present in the system.  This is considered to be enough fuel buildup to cause a chimney fire capable of damaging the chimney or spreading to the home. Factory-built fireplaces should be swept when any appreciable buildup occurs. The logic is that the deposit is quite acidic and can shorten the life of the fireplace.”


So it appears that what is expected in the chimney sweeping industry (by respected chimney sweeps worldwide) is that chimneys should be inspected annually to find out if they have

  • Creosote build-up
  • Bird nest or debris
  • Other types of deterioration or damage

that would make the chimney unsafe to use.  Then they should be cleaned as needed.

  • If they are prefabricated fireplace chimneys, they should be swept when they have “any appreciable buildup”.
  • If they are masonry chimneys, they should be swept when they have “1/8” of sooty build-up, and….if there is any glaze present.”

So call Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps|Bless Your Hearth early in the year, as soon as the burning season ends, to have your chimney inspected by some of the best professionals in the Upstate South Carolina Area.

  • If it needs sweeping, we can take care of that for you.  
  • If it has issues, you’ll have all summer to address them.
  • If there are no issues, you’ll rest easy knowing that you are all set to start using your fireplace anytime you like NEXT Winter season.