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DIY Chimney Inspection

Updated on December 4, 2011

Having a fireplace in your home is a less expensive source of heat as compared to gas or electric. Fireplaces also add to the ambiance of the home. Cozying up near the fireplace, drifting off into a dream-like haze provides the relaxation so many crave. It is tough to allow yourself to move into a deep state of relaxation if you have any safety concerns about your chimney. Inspecting your own chimney can put some of your fears to rest. Inspecting the chimney in no way takes the place of a thorough chimney cleaning. Inspections point out problems that need to be addressed. Some chimney problems you can fix yourself, while other problems require the services of a professional.


Climb a ladder so you can reach the chimney. You will have to stand on your roof to perform the inspection, so if you have any fears – don’t do it. You will be the butt of your neighbor’s jokes for years if the fire department has to come and rescue you.

Start your inspection by examining the outside of your chimney. Look for chips and cracks in the mortar, which create a perfect path for water to find its way into your house. Chips and cracks can also be a signal for damage inside the chimney stack. Damage inside a chimney can lead to a house fire. Pull on the bricks and push them to make sure they are not loose. If there are any loose bricks or mortar problems, have them repaired or fix them yourself before lighting your next fire.

Look on the surface around the roof for large or small pieces of creosote.

Remove the chimney cap so you can look inside. Shine a flashlight into the chimney and look for debris and other obstructions that are blocking the chimney. Birds and other small animals like to build nests inside the chimney out of twigs, dried leaves and other flammables. Remove any blockages that you see.

Shine the flashlight on the chimney line. Pay attention to the amount of black, stuck-on gunk, which is creosote. Creosote buildup is a byproduct of fire. Creosote is flammable and has to be removed in order to have a safe fire in your fireplace. This is usually a job for a chimney sweep.

Look for cracks in the chimney liner, which can cause a house fire by exposing the beams and other wood structures to intense heat and igniting. Make sure the liner has not collapsed. A collapsed liner can indicate you have already had a chimney fire. Look for warped metal, puffed up creosote, bent or twisted damper or broken or missing flue tiles.

Fix any issue you find or have them professionally fixed or you will run the risk of a house fire.


The older, more seasoned the wood, the less creosote.

Choose hardwoods, which burn longer with a steady flame and hotter than soft woods.


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    • Escapes profile image

      Escapes 6 years ago

      It's tough to do when you are afraid of heights. At least you didn't have to call for help!

    • carcro profile image

      Paul Cronin 6 years ago from Winnipeg

      Great tips on chimney safety, I climbed on my roof once to paint the top of the roof stack trim, scared the heebejeebies out of me, Lol, couldn't get down fast enough and hung on for dear life trying to get back on the ladder. Thanks for the info, voted uP!