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When It’s Time for Your Annual Chimney Inspection, Trust Ashbusters Charleston

If you’re a homeowner with a fireplace, you know the simple joy of settling in by the glow of the flames and relaxing with a good book and a toasty beverage.

A fireplace can be relaxing, yes. …but it can also cause a lot of stress. 

When not well-maintained and cared for, chimneys and fireplaces present serious risks to your home. Before you panic, though, we have a solution that’ll help you rest easy at night – an annual chimney inspection. They may seem unnecessary and even a hassle to schedule, but just one evaluation a year can prevent chimney fires and carbon monoxide leaks. 

Best part? We make it easy. Simply give us a call at 843-400-0133 or schedule an appointment online. That’s all there it to it.

Why Chimney Inspections & Evaluations Matter

Chimney evaluations are broken down into one of three levels – all of which offer detailed inspections of the chimney system. Getting your fireplace inspected from crown to firebox can prevent both fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. In fact, having a chimney inspection done on a yearly basis is more important than you might initially realize when it comes to the safety of your family and household.

Facts about chimney safety you may not know:

  • Nests in chimneys cause dangerous blockages resulting in a smoking chimney or chimney fire.
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning can happen in your home if your fireplace is not vented properly or if there are cracks in the flue.
  • Between 2014-2018, 3 out of every 10 house fires were caused by heating equipment – and the majority of these occurred in fireplaces or chimneys.

But there’s good news! Virtually all of these problems are preventable. 

Two organizations play a major role in keeping the chimney industry running well and homeowners safer:

And guess what – both of these respected institutions recommend annual inspections as a way to prevent these possible fire hazards from lurking in your appliance.

Do Gas Fireplaces Need Inspections?

So yes – the fact will always remain that if you burn wood in your fireplaces or wood stove, you will need to have it swept and inspected at least on a yearly basis.

But it’s not just wood! If you burn gas, oil, or coal, you rely on your chimney to carry out toxic gases from your home. And if the chimney is damaged in any way these gases might be venting into your home.

While a carbon monoxide detector can warn you of potential poisoning, it’s after the fact. Those poisonous gases have already entered your living area. With an annual chimney checkup, you can discover if carbon monoxide is able to enter your home through the most logical place it can – your chimney system – and then stop it before it actually happens.

But let’s face it – we’re all busy these days. That’s why we ask you, whether you call us out or not, to place inspecting and cleaning your chimney as a priority on either your annual spring or fall to-do list – no matter the fuel you’re burning. 

Having a roaring fire in the middle of your home is a potential fire hazard and needs to be done as safely as possible. It just makes sense considering the potential for property damage and lost lives.

How Do I Know if My Chimney Is Safe to Use?

There can be visible signs that your chimney needs work before you can safely use it again. Crumbling mortar, spalling bricks, cracked fire bricks, and soot buildup are surface-level and easier to spot. But more often than not, most chimney problems are hard to identify without a trained eye.

For instance, you may have cracks in your flue liner but you can’t get a clear look without the right camera equipment. The liner acts as a barrier that prevents harmful gases from seeping into the chimney structure and leaking into your home. If the liner is damaged, it can’t do its job as intended, and the risk of a carbon monoxide leak increases. Your best bet to ensure your safety is to bring in a professional for a chimney inspection. 

How Often Should I Have My Chimney Inspected?

The standard for chimney inspections is once a year based on recommendations by CSIA and NFPA. That said, while annual inspections are considered the custom, it’s not suitable for all chimneys. Let’s say you use your fireplace all day three or four days a week during the cooler months. In these cases, you may need an inspection every six months to stay ahead of potential problems. 

Annual chimney inspections are important because they let us establish a baseline of your chimney system so that you can have a maintenance plan that makes sense for your home.

Service technician inspecting Chimney

What Are the Different Levels of Chimney Inspections?

We offer three levels of chimney inspections. The current state of your chimney and past issues will determine which inspection is right for you.

Level 1 Inspection

  • Suitable if you have not changed (and do not plan to change) your heating appliance, fuel type, or system.
  • Appropriate during annual service visits and during flue cap installation.
  • No need to use tools to open or remove doors, panels, or coverings in order to examine the chimney exterior and interior.
  • Technicians may need commonly available tools to examine portions of the appliance and the chimney connection
  • The evaluation will not disrupt the chimney structure or finish.

Level 2 Inspection

  • Required when any change is made to your chimney system – for example, before the flue is relined or when you replace one fireplace appliance with another.
  • Required upon the sale or transfer of property.
  • Suggested when an operating malfunction or external event is likely to have caused damage to the chimney or fireplace appliance.
  • Does not require the removal or destruction of permanently attached portions of the chimney or building structure.
  • Includes all services appropriate in a level 1 inspection, plus the examination of accessible portions of the chimney exterior and interior (including attics, crawl spaces, and basements).
  • Includes a camera inspection of the flue interior, using specialized equipment.

Level 3 Inspection – Requires a Quote

  • Completed if a level 1 or level 2 inspection indicates a hazard in concealed portions of the chimney.
  • Involves the removal, and possible destruction, of portions of the chimney or building structure, as necessary.
  • Can require special tools and access to concealed areas of the chimney and flue.

What is a chimney camera inspection, and when is it necessary?

A chimney camera inspection involves inserting a camera into the chimney to get a detailed view of its interior. It’s typically used for level 2 or level 3 inspections when there is suspected structural damage or obstructions.

Who Can Inspect My Chimney?

Some industries are federally regulated and are overseen by government agencies to ensure that companies within those industries are meeting minimum requirements and following basic rules. 

Unfortunately, the chimney business isn’t one of those industries and some chimney service companies aren’t quite up to par. But you don’t have to worry! The NFPA and CSIA have certifications and memberships to help homeowners identify chimney companies that want to be held accountable – and hire the chimney technicians who have gone through rigorous training to build their knowledge and skill set. 

When it’s time to schedule a chimney inspection, go with a trusted chimney company that has experience and expertise that sets them apart from all the rest. With nearly four decades in the industry and a team of CSIA-certified technicians, Ashbusters Charleston is the go-to company for Charleston residents. 

Get in touch with us to set up your chimney inspection now. We’re available over the phone at 843-400-0133 or you can schedule an appointment online.

New red brick masonry chimney with two caps-blue sky with clouds in background

I Don’t Use My Fireplace – Do I Still Need a Chimney Inspection?

There’s a popular saying: out of sight, out of mind. You rarely use your fireplace so you don’t have to worry about a chimney inspection, right?

Not so fast. An unused fireplace can still be a fire hazard and it’s especially vulnerable to water intrusion. If you’re not getting annual checkups, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to see repairs that need to be completed to keep the chimney safe. Unless you hang out on your rooftop regularly, you probably won’t find out about that cracked chimney crown until your roof starts to leak. By that point, what would have been an easy fix has snowballed into an expensive project.

Another consideration? Chimneys are attractive to wildlife because they offer a warm and quiet shelter that can protect them from the elements. A chimney that’s not in use is even better for them because they can move in comfortably without having to deal with smoky interruptions. Animals tend to use flammable materials to make their nests and critters can introduce dangerous diseases and parasites to your home.

What Should I Do if My Chimney Inspection Reveals a Problem?

It’s not our ideal outcome, but occasionally an inspection reveals damages or areas of concern. The idea of chimney repairs may feel overwhelming, but it’s our goal to help you navigate the aftermath. Should you require additional repair work, you should take the following steps:

  • Discuss the results with the chimney technician. After an inspection, your chimney professional will provide a detailed written inspection report that outlines the issues identified, needed repairs, and potential costs. You can ask them to explain the nature and severity of the problem, as well as any recommended solutions.
  • Talk through your options. There are usually multiple paths to resolving a problem. At Ashbusters Charleston, we want to help you make an informed decision based on your budget and needs. We’ll be happy to discuss different solutions with you and go over the pros and cons of each.
  • Think about safety. Some repairs can be put off in the short term, but others can pose an immediate safety hazard. In cases of severe damage or significant safety concerns, you should stop using your fireplace or heating appliance until repairs are finished.
  • Schedule a follow-up appointment. Once you’ve settled on a plan that works for you, book an appointment so that we can get started on repairs. Our calendar books up quickly – especially right before the burning season – and we want you to get back to enjoying your fireplace as quickly as you can. Delaying repair work can lead to more extensive damage and increased future costs.
  • Keep up with maintenance after repairs are done. Once the problem is fixed, we’ll provide recommendations for ongoing maintenance such as annual inspections and cleanings.
  • Check with your insurance. It’s rare but depending on the type of chimney problem you have, your homeowner’s insurance policy may cover repairs. If you’re not sure, check with your insurance provider and ask them to go review your coverage and explain the claims process if you qualify.


When chimney repairs are on your must-do list, be glad you have our chimney and dryer services experts ready to help.

How Much Is a Chimney Inspection?

When it comes to pricing, we believe in honesty and transparency. There are a lot of things that can impact the cost of a chimney inspection, so it’s hard to give a quote without more details. What type of inspection do you need? Is your chimney easy to access? How large is your chimney system? These are all questions we’ll need answered before we move forward.

We don’t want to give you an estimate that doesn’t reflect your final expenses. You can reach out to our customer service team to provide more information and we can discuss costs with you.

Can I Perform a Chimney Inspection Myself?

The crew at Ashbusters Charleston is a hands-on bunch and we understand the appeal of DIY home maintenance. We like to roll up our sleeves and get after it as much as anyone, but chimney safety is another lane – and we urge you to pump the brakes if thoughts of DIY have been floating throughout your head. Without knowing what to look for and where to find it, you could miss a crucial issue that puts your home at risk.

Your safety is always our top priority. Having an inspection conducted by a CSIA-certified chimney technician means they are knowledgeable and have passed an intensive examination based on fire codes, clearances, and standards for the construction and maintenance of chimneys and venting systems.

Many fire investigators know this as well and that is why they call on local CSIA-certified chimney professionals to determine whether a fire originated in – or damaged – the chimney system. That’s just one reason we have all our techs go through this rigorous certification. It should also let you know that getting a chimney tech with this type of training means you have the confidence of a professional working on your system.

Our Certified Chimney Technicians Are Here to Help

You should be able to use your fireplace without thinking about what could go wrong. Let us give your chimney a clean bill of health – contact Ashbusters Charleston now. We’re licensed, CSIA-certified, and fully insured.

Our crew is ready to get started. All you have to do is schedule an appointment online or call us at 843-400-0133.