Spring has only just sprung, but let’s think ahead a little to when summer fades into fall and cooler nights begin to settle back in… During this time, many of us turn to our trusty fireplaces in order to provide cozy evenings with the ones we love most.

But before you light that first log of the season, it’s important to have your fireplace and chimney inspected. That’s because a safe chimney is essential for creating warm memories – and not fire hazards.

Most people assume the best time to get your chimney inspected is right before you plan to use it. While there is some truth to that, there’s some hidden advantages to scheduling your inspection in the spring or summer months.

Why Should I Schedule My Chimney Inspection in the Spring?

During the off-season, chimney sweep companies aren’t slammed with appointments like they are in the fall. This means you’ll likely have an easier time scheduling a time that is convenient for you (and not just what is left a few weeks from now), as well as have plenty of time to make any necessary repairs should an issue arise during your inspection. Here’s a brief list of advantages to getting this maintenance done now.

  • You can address any issues that may have arisen during the winter season, when your fireplace and chimney face more wear and tear.
  • You can prevent problems from worsening over the summer, ensuring that your chimney is safe to use when you need it again.
  • Chimney sweeps and inspectors may be more readily available in the spring compared to the busier fall and winter seasons.
  • Scheduling your inspection during this time may allow you to secure an appointment more easily.
  • Some homeowners insurance policies require regular chimney inspections and maintenance.

Overall, scheduling a chimney inspection in spring is a proactive measure to ensure the safety, efficiency, and longevity of your chimney system.

What Are the Signs That My Chimney Needs an Inspection?

While your best bet is to book an annual chimney inspection in the spring or early summer, there are other situations that warrant immediate attention. These red flags can signal potential dangers lurking within your chimney system – and ignoring them could have serious consequences. Some of the telltale signs you need a certified chimney sweep to come perform an inspection include:

original infographic stating signs that it's time for a chimney inspection
  • Smoke in the Room: Seeing smoke in your house, rather than it exiting through the chimney, indicates a blockage. Eventually, this could lead to a fire or carbon monoxide poisoning if it isn’t addressed.
  • Difficulty Starting Fires: If your fires are struggling to come to life or seem to fizzle out quickly, there could be a significant amount of creosote buildup or a blocked flue.
  • Persistent Burning Smell: A lingering smoky or acidic smell shouldn’t occur even after the fire is out. When incomplete combustion occurs during a fire, it causes creosote buildup on the flue lining and restricts airflow. Eventually, enough creosote in your chimney will make it difficult for smoke to vent properly…and also contribute to lingering odors in your home. 
  • Signs of Life in the Chimney: Animals are quite crafty little creatures. If given access, they tend to take advantage of the cozy and dark nooks and crannies that your chimney offers. Birds, raccoons, squirrels, and other small animals are all culprits known to build nests or dens inside chimneys. This can create blockages with their debris and pose a fire hazard.
  • Visible Damage: Cracks in the bricks, crumbling mortar, or a missing or damaged chimney cap are all signs that your chimney needs attention from a professional.
  • Water Leaks: Speaking of missing or damaged chimney caps, did you know a chimney cap doesn’t just keep critters out of your chimney? It also helps shield your chimney from rain, sleet, and snow. Other causes of water leaks in your chimney include damaged flashing, cracks in the chimney crown, or damaged brick and mortar.

What Is a Level 2 Chimney Inspection?

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), chimney inspections should be performed at least once a year. However, there are different levels of inspections, each designed for a specific purpose. Chimney inspections are broken down into 3 categories: level 1, level 2, and level 3 chimney inspections. If you’re new to owning a fireplace, you might have no clue which one you are supposed to request. 

As you’ve probably already guessed, each level of chimney inspection increases in intensity as the potential problems uncovered become more serious. A level 1 chimney inspection covers all the easily accessible areas of the chimney and is suitable for fireplaces with no known issues, or as a routine check before using the fireplace.

A level 2 chimney inspection is recommended when a more in-depth visual examination is necessary. This could be because you’re planning to switch the type of fuel you burn in your fireplace, have recently relined the flue, or suspect there might be hidden problems after a chimney fire. If you’re selling or buying a home, some states require a level 2 inspection be performed. Not only does this provide valuable peace of mind for both parties involved in the transaction, it also ensures the fireplace and chimney are functioning safely and efficiently.

Whether it’s maintaining your fireplace, uncovering hidden issues, or ensuring a smooth real estate transaction, Big Ash Fireplaces & Stoves is here to help! We use cameras in every inspection, no matter the level, so you’ll get the quality care you deserve – every time.

Is a Chimney Inspection the Same as a Chimney Sweep?

Although a chimney inspection and a chimney sweep are both important for maintaining a safe and functional fireplace, they are not the same thing. While a chimney inspection focuses on providing a comprehensive evaluation of the condition of your entire chimney, a chimney sweep removes creosote buildup and other debris from the chimney flue.

That is why these two services are recommended to be scheduled together – it ensures the complete health and safety of your fireplace system. Here at Big Ash Fireplaces & Stoves, our certified chimney sweeps can perform both services in one efficient visit. 

So, schedule your chimney inspection and sweep today with Big Ash Fireplaces & Stoves! Call us now at 585-638-0300 or request your appointment on our website.