About Chimney Inspections
After cleaning off the creosote, the chimney specialist looks up and the interior to check for other issues -- often using a camera or even a video recorder to get a better view. Among the things they look for:
• Water damage. If rainwater is getting in the chimney or through cracks in the roof along the edge of the chimney it will damage not just the chimney but the rest of the house.
• Structural damage. Cracks in the masonry or loose bits of mortar create gaps that fire can pass through.
• Evidence of birds or animals. There's even a variety of bird so associated with its tendency to nest in chimneys that it is named the "chimney swift."
Some chimney cleaning companies also conduct video inspections. A standard cleaning and inspection might cost $140 to $200. A video inspection might be a little extra.
Finding Chimney Problems
Although you need an expert to identify trouble inside the chimney, some problems are evident from the outside.
Examine the exterior: Stand away from the house to check for signs of missing mortar, cracks in the bricks or loose or missing bricks. Also check for overall structural issues such as the chimney or the house leaning in places. (Make sure you don't climb on top of the roof; this can present additional safety issues).
Check the attic/crawl space: If you notice water stains in the area around the chimney, this could signal problems with leaking.
Examine your home's interior: Peeling paint, peeling wallpaper or water stains on the ceiling around the fireplace structure can signal problems with the structure of your chimney.