Inspecting an Old Fireplace and Chimney

Inspecting an Old Fireplace and Chimney

“Inspecting an Old Fireplace"

is part of our series on

Old Home Inspection Checklist

First, assess whether or not you need to clean the fireplace or chimney.

The fireplace should be cleaned when there is…

  • ⅛” of soot or build-up inside the chimney and/or flue system
  • Any glaze detected in the flue system (regardless of sooty buildup)
  • Any detectable issues with ventilation when a fire is lit

Second, assess any structural concerns:

  • Does the chimney have a cap? Is there a functional damper installed?
  • Is the fireplace/chimney made of brick? Can you see any damage? Does it need to be repointed?
  • If the home is much older, it’s possible that the fireplace isn’t sealed. If this is the case, a professional needs to seal it immediately before use, or the fire could spread to the rest of the house.

Should any of these issues arise, contact local fireplace specialists or brick and stone masons to help you address concerns and ensure the safety of the fireplace.

These are the most important steps you should take as a prospective buyer of an old home, with an old fireplace, that you plan to make good use of!

If you're looking at purchasing an older home, a big safety and structural concern should be the chimneys and fireplaces. A professional should inspect the chimney and fireplace in any home at least once a year, more often if the fireplace is used frequently. Before purchasing an older or historic home, inspecting the old fireplace yourself is a good idea. You should also request a professional chimney and fireplace inspection to ensure there aren’t any major red flags that need to be taken care of.

This is a guide for the prospective homeowner to help determine the condition of the house.  Some of the checkpoints on this list might be deal breakers or they might be just part of the journey you’ll need to address when fixing up or restoring an older house. This is not an official document, but a guide to assess the kind of work involved in fixing up the house and perhaps to use as bargaining points when discussing terms with the seller.

Please have a certified Home Inspector go through and submit a report on the house before you purchase it.

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