The national average cost of a chimney inspection is between $360-$400.Chimney and fireplace inspection services are generally offered through companies that do chimney sweeping (also known as chimney cleaning), a term that covers a wide range of chimney-related repairs and maintenance. They are sometimes offered by home inspection companies.
While it's easy to forget about what's going on inside your fireplace, getting a chimney cleaning and inspection is important for your and your home's safety. Chimney inspections can identify repairs needed to prevent chimney fires, smoke entering the living space or unpleasant odors when your fireplace is lit.
Chimneys can also get damaged by extreme weather, the mortar can deteriorate, and creosote, a byproduct of burning wood, can build up over time. Too much creosote is a dangerous thing in a fireplace. Natural combustion can turn a coating of creosote into a disaster in a hurry. Fortunately, a chimney inspection can identify any safety issues and, generally, your contractor will be able to fix them too. To make sure your fireplace is structurally sound and venting properly, a chimney inspection is essential.
Whether you've noticed something is wrong with your fireplace and chimney, or simply want to be prepared for a roaring fireplace filled winter, a chimney inspection by a professional is a good (and safe) idea for every homeowner. This guide will break down how much you can expect to pay for an inspection.
What's in this cost guide?
The cost of a chimney inspection varies based on the state of your chimney. Chimney inspections are divided into different three levels depending on the detail of the inspection, as outlined by the Chimney Safety Institute of America.
Many chimney services offer free inspections if they will then be hired to do any necessary cleaning or repairs.
Level 1 inspections
The low level of pricing is charged for what's known a Level 1 inspection. If your chimney gets cleaned on a regular basis and doesn't show any signs of a malfunction, a level 1 inspection should be all you need. A chimney sweep will perform a level 1 inspection to check the exterior masonry, fireplace and flue for blockages.
Level 1 inspections are the most straightforward, and least expensive. For example, DNG Complete Home Improvement, SNG Chimney Sweep and Xtreme Chimney Sweeps perform basic chimney inspections for prices that range from $89–$120. Their costs vary depending on roof accessibility and the type of chimney.
Level 2 inspections
Prices go up for a Level 2 inspection where the sweep may send a camera down the flue for a closer look at the chimney condition, in addition to the accessible portions. The camera provides a closer look at the condition of the chimney structure, and can catch things a simple inspection cannot. Sending a camera down the flue can cost an additional $50–$75 on top of a simple inspection.
At this level, verifying chimney safety may also include checking out the home's attic and basement.
If your chimney is suspected of having a cracked flue, a Level 2 inspection is typically required. If your have had structural damage to a chimney or if you're selling the house, asking your sweep for a Level 2 is the way to go.
Level 3 inspections
A catastrophic event, like a fire, earthquake or a tree falling onto the house requires a Level 3 inspection. Level 3 inspections, unfortunately, can cost several thousand dollars. Earthquake damage may require tools that go beyond performing a visual inspection, to ensure the safety and structural soundness of your fireplace and chimney.
In some cases, you may need one of the following specialized chimney and fireplace services:
An inspector may use image-scanning technology to determine the structural soundness of a chimney's masonry and any connection points to the roof. Inspectors also look for damaged dampers, excessive buildup of creosote and missing spark arresters.
Licensed home inspection services can sometimes do a seismic inspection for an additional or separate fee. However, it makes sense to start with a chimney sweep company, since they'll have more specialized experience with chimney cleaning and repair.
Brick chimneys can be damaged by excessive moisture which causes the mortar in between the bricks to deteriorate.
Distressed mortar can be removed and replaced using a process called tuckpointing. The cost for tuckpointing varies depending on the extent of the damage to the chimney, but this service usually costs $5–$10 per square foot.
Waterproofing the chimney can also help reduce the effects of weather.
If a chimney has caused or been damaged in a fire, it will need to be inspected and possibly rebuilt to meet current code and to protect against future fires. Building a new chimney can cost $300–$1,000 on a single-story home and $400–$2,000 for a home with two or more stories.
Repairing an existing chimney may be less expensive than starting from scratch. A chimney sweep will help you understand what repairs, and for how much, you will need.
Chimney liners run inside the flue to protect the masonry from the heat and byproducts of combustion. Liners are typically made of heat-tolerant materials such as clay, ceramic or metal. If not properly taken care of, you can damage the chimney liner.
Replacing a chimney liner can cost $2,500–$5,000, which is another reason why cleaning and inspecting your chimney regularly is a good idea.
Regular inspections are highly recommended to avoid calamities from concealed chimney issues. Get your fireplace, chimney and vents inspected at least once a year.
If you recently purchased a home that comes with a fireplace, it's also a good idea to get it inspected -- if you didn't already as part of your overall home inspection -- before you use it for the first time.
Yes. If you're using a gas fireplace, it's a good idea to hire a cleaning service to keep the chimney in good working order. Even though you won't have the same creosote buildup as a wood-burning fireplace, gas fireplace chimneys can still become clogged with leaves, twigs and bird's nests. Too many of these put you at risk for a chimney fire.
To prevent the buildup of debris, many chimney services recommend you use a chimney cap, which can be installed for $100 and up.
Fireplace cleaning and chimney maintenance are a must-do if you use your fireplace on a regular basis. Once a chimney fire starts it is very hard to put out and can do an extreme amount of damage to your home.
Inspections will cost more depending on how clean and well maintained your fireplace and chimney are, so keep it in good shape between inspections. So schedule chimney cleaning on a regular basis and keep it in good shape between inspections.
Proper venting is also a key element to a well functioning chimney. Chimney cleaning costs are worth the money to prevent a chimney catching on fire or collapsing.
Finally, shop around if you want to save on your costs. Find at least two companies online to do a preliminary inspection and ideally, give you a free quote about what basic inspection will cost. When it comes to chimneys it's way better to be safe than sorry.