What does a chimney inspection cover?

An annual chimney inspection looks for buildup and blockages, followed by sweeping to remove problems inhibiting performance.

Most chimney inspectors/sweeps offer three levels of service:

A level-one chimney inspection includes a visual check of the fireplace and chimney without any special equipment or climbing up on the roof.

The inspector/sweeper comes to your house with a flashlight; looks for damage, obstructions, creosote buildup, and soot; and tells you if the chimney requires sweeping. If so, the chimney sweep will use brushes, extension poles, and a vacuum, and do it on the spot.

Cost: $79 to $200.

A level-two chimney inspection is vital if you’ve experienced an earthquake or a dramatic weather event, like a tornado or hurricane; if you’ve made a major change to your fireplace; or bought a house.

This includes a level-one chimney inspection, plus the inspector’s time to visit the roof, attic, and crawl space in search of disrepair as well as the use of video scanning and other special tools. It concludes with a sweep, if necessary, and information on what repair is needed.

Cost: $100 to $500.

A level-three chimney inspection is considered “destructive and intrusive” and can resemble a demolition job. It may involve tearing down and rebuilding walls and your chimney, and is usually done after a chimney fire.

Cost: $1,000 to $5,000, depending on the size and location of the chimney.