The short answer is that you should recommend a chimney inspection every time.However, there are a few specific items you can look for that should prompt a chimney inspection:
A missing spark arrester. This is needed for fire safety and may be indicative of other issues. If a proper spark arrester is present it may be seen at the very top of the chimney.
Exterior cracking. This can mean need for minor repairs or possibly a more serious condition could exist.
Gaps where the chimney meets the house means the chimney structure has shifted and may need to be stabilized or it may be damaged.
If the chimney looks short or odd in relation to the house an evaluation is needed. A chimney should rise significantly above the roof & should have straight lines.
THIS CHIMNEY IS QUITE DAMAGED AND LOOKS VISIBLY ODD.
Staining above the fireplace opening can indicate building too large of a fire or indicate that the chimney is improperly venting smoke.
Cracking inside or around the fireplace opening can be a matter of minor patching or can be an indication of earthquake or settlement damage.
If the fireplace has never been used it may not function properly. Deterioration and damage can occur regardless of use.
Has the Chimney been repaired? Many chimney repairs performed from the 1994 Earthquake to the present have not been properly executed and may present a fire hazard.
Newer fireplace systems may be improperly constructed. Only an unbiased inspection can determine whether a new system has been properly constructed. We have found in some cases that even systems that were approved by the city were not functioning properly. A city inspector is not the same thing as a chimney inspector.
THIS IS A BRAND NEW SYSTEM THAT WAS INSPECTED AND THE FIREPLACE WAS FOUND TO HAVE BEEN IMPROPERLY INSTALLED WHICH VOIDED THE WARRANTY.
A neglected, dirty fireplace system can have hidden fire safety issues that can only be discovered with a video camera inspection.
-John LeBaron, Chimney Check Professionals
Call us for a complete fireplace & Chimney Inspection to protect your cleints and yourself! (818) 951-7550