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CHIMNEY INSPECTION DIAGNOSIS REPAIR
BACKDRAFTING HEATING EQUIPMENT
CARBON MONOXIDE - CO
CHIMNEY COMPONENT DEFINITIONS
CHIMNEY FIRE ACTION / PREVENTION
COMBUSTION GASES & PARTICLE HAZARDS
COMBUSTION PRODUCTS & IAQ
FLAME COLOR, BLUE vs YELLOW COMBUSTION
HEATING SYSTEM INSPECTION
HOME HEATING SAFETY
ODORS & SMELLS DIAGNOSIS & CURE
SAFETY RECALLS CHIMNEYS VENTS HEATERS
STAIN DIAGNOSIS on BUILDING EXTERIORS
WOOD, COAL STOVES & FIREPLACES
WOOD STOVE SAFETY
This article provides a checklist of the most common chimney defects found during a home inspection. We include links to two additional detailed chimney inspection checklists for outdoors and indoors. Three other detailed chimney inspection checklists for outside inspection, inside inspection & flue interior inspections are listed at the top of this article. These articles on chimneys and chimney safety provide detailed suggestions describing how to perform a thorough visual inspection of chimneys for safety and other defects. Chimney inspection methods and chimney repair methods are also discussed.
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This chimney inspection checklist is a companion to our detailed photo guide to chimney inspections & problem diagnosis found at CHIMNEY INSPECTION GUIDE.
Watch out: no checklist is ever a complete guide to building inspection or diagnosis since no checklist can contain every possible hazard or every clue that suggests a problem.
Therefore do not rely on this or any checklist to assure that your inspection of a chimney is complete. Instead, use this list to suggest additional topics that you otherwise may have omitted from your inspection.
The more detailed chimney inspection and repair articles at the links at page-left and below suggest further, more-detailed chimney inspection points and procedures.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Question: Are HVAC contractors who install a replacement gas heating system also responsible for inspecting/assessing the (interior) chimney for safety/efficiency/proper draft/draw prior to installation?
Thank you so much for offering to answer questions. I am a basically clueless woman who gets shafted constantly when it comes to contractors and repairs because they know I have no clue about such things.
My question is this: Are HVAC contractors who install a replacement gas heating system also responsible for inspecting/assessing the (interior) chimney for safety/efficiency/proper draft/draw prior to installation?
A plumber just happened to notice that I have considerable heat coming off the large pipes and the tank etc in the closet which houses the heating system. He informed me that it is most likely due to a bad chimney which is not drafting or drawing correctly, and that the HVAC installer should have done a chimney assessment prior to installation. Is this correct?
I need to know if the HVAC man is the one I need to contact to correct the situation, before spending hundreds on paying someone different. I really and truly appreciate your help answering my question. - K.M. 7/19/2013
We cannot know from just the information in your email whether the heating installation you describe is properly installed and safe or not. I also worry that while you may have heard of a concern, an expert, looking over the system might see something else of far greater concern.
These are my off-the-cuff first prioirty conerns when looking at a newly installed replacement gas heating system for the most fundamental questions of safety and proper installation:
1. Is the heating system safe: does it have adequate combustion air, is the chimney venting properlty, were proper fire clearances respected, are there working CO and smoke detectors installed in the home at proper locations and working properly.
2. Is the heating system functional: does it respond properly to a call for heat?
3. Is the heating system installed in all respects in keeping with the manufacturere's installation instructions (and local codes) - this last item can only be determined by a more detailed examination of the system along with the heater's installation guide.
A heating system installer who was in a rush might assume that a chimney is working properly, but he or she would be foolish to do so. Certainly a confirmation of proper draft and a visual inspection for obvious defects (blockage, leaks, damage, fire clearances), as well as a confirmation that the heater was operating properly (combustion air, temperature, etc) would be basic steps to perform before leaving the job.
I suggest calling the service manager of the company who installed your heater. Don't be confrontational and don't assume the installer fouled up, but do let the manager know you are concerned and that a plumber raised some safety questions. Ask that an experienced, trained expert be sent to check out your system.
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Technical Reviewers & References
Related Topics, found near the top of this page suggest articles closely related to this one.