Photograph of a damaged unsafe brick chimney in an attic. Indoor Chimney Inspection Checklist
35 common defects found on chimneys by inspection indoors

  • CHIMNEY INSPECTION INDOORS - CONTENTS: Photo guide to chimney defects on building Interiors, attics, living space, basements, crawl spaces & utility areas that contain chimney components. Home inspector responsibilities during building chimney inspections. Limits of view in chimney flues, external signs of serious internal or hidden problems. Critical chimney life safety or fire defects. How to inspect building chimneys from indoors. CHIMNEY INDOOR INSPECTION POINTS - 34 indoor chimney inspection points
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about procedures for the inspection of chimneys for unsafe conditions, damage, or structural problems.

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How to inspect chimneys for safety or structural damage issues - a checklist:

This article provides a Detailed Chimney Inspection Checklist for use when inspecting a building chimney from inside a building.

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Detailed Indoors Chimney Inspection Checklist

Stains indicate chimney leaks and damage (C) Daniel FriedmanInside Chimney Defect Observations

Here is a chimney inspection checklist built from multiple contributors. Contact Us if you have corrections or additions for this chimney inspection checklist.

Watch out: no checklist can be complete, and you should never rely only on a checklist to perform a building inspection.

A checklist is useful to help avoid forgetting certain key steps, but it is always possible that other defects are present that are not on your checklist. Readers of this outdoor chimney inspection checklist should be sure to review the illustrated chimney defect and inspection procedures at CHIMNEY INSPECTION INDOORS.

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.

We list these observations in a order (not the only possible order) that might be followed by a visual inspection beginning outdoors and continuing indoors throughout the building, basement to attic, and including appliances or devices that vent through a chimney.

Responsibility of an Home Inspectors Regarding Chimney Inspections

Sooty gas burner (C) Daniel FriedmanThe ASHI Standards and most other home inspection standards (CREIA TAREI FABI etc) require reporting on the exterior condition of a chimney, the cap, the flue, the roof flashings and the vent connectors from the appliances.

Some indoor clues (photo at left) might indicate such serious safety hazards (blocked flue, carbon monoxide poisoning) as to deserve immediate professional attention and appropriate warnings to building occupants.

This basic visual inspection can be expanded to provide a more complete understanding of the components with concurrent recommendations to the client for the necessary repairs.

The chimney inspectionlinks listed at the "More Reading" links at the bottom of this article provide an encyclopedia of chimney functional and safety defects.

A starting-point indoor check list for a chimney inspection includes the following items:

Chimney Inspection Checklist - Indoor Observations
Item #

34 Indoor Inspection Points for Chimney Concerns or Defects

© Copyright 2015, All Rights Reserved. Author Daniel Friedman.

Location on Building Comments

Building ID & Location: __________________________________________

Date & Time: _________________________________________________

Inspector: ____________________________________________________

1 Exterior chimney surface materials examined indoors for signs of leaks, cracks, damage, improperly sealed openings. Also see CHIMNEY CRACK DETECTION & DIAGNOSIS & CHIMNEY COLLAPSE RISKS, REPAIRS    
2 Chimney Cap & top seal - if missing, leaky, or damaged, you may have spotted this from outside; inside you may see leak stains and brown or black bleed-through marks on the chimney, or bubbled, damaged plaster or drywall covering the chimney    
3 Attic observation: Chimney construction on excessive angle (more than 30 deg) (typically viewed inside an attic)    
4 Chimney cleanout not provided (CHIMNEY CLEANOUT DOORS)    
5 Chimney cleanout door missing, ajar, not closed, not openable    
6 Chimney cleanout door close to combustibles    
7 Chimney flue - view is normally limited unless using professional chimscan type equipment, but views into the chimney from barometric dampers, draft regulators, or cleanouts can indicate chimney damage (such as pieces of chimney liner) or blockage (debris).

Look for evidence of shared flues (SHARED CHIMNEY & FLUE HAZARDS) among appliances on different floors or breaks or holes between adjacent flues
8 Roof Flashings & leaks around chimneys (very common): inspect inside for leak stains may on chimney sides or on ceilings or even interior walls near an outside wall chimney; also look for leak stains inside fireplaces & in or on heating appliances or their flue vent connectors    
9 Chimney materials in attic with careful attention to movement, cracks, leaks, stains, gas and fire hazards    
10 Chimney materials & condition in basement with careful attention to movement, cracks, leaks, gas and fire hazards    
11 Chimney not continuous through roof (metal flues, fire-rated roof passage thimble)    
12 Chimney passages through intermediate building floors: leak stains, indications of prior and improperly sealed chimney openings, fire clearance issues - abandoned vent closures such as where a woodstove or coal stove was previously connected to the flue    
13 Multiple appliances vented into single flue: too many, inadequate draft, back-drafting, CO hazards, operating defects    

Chimney flue vent connectors to heating appliances: rust, holes, leaks (see FLUE VENT CONNECTORS, HEATING EQUIPMENT)

15 Chimney flue vent connector has improper slope (wrong direction)    
16 Chimney flue vent connector is too long    
17 Chimney flue vent connector enters a dead end flue    
18 Flue vent connector not sealed at point of entry into chimney    
19 Flue vent connector or thimble extending too far into chimney interior (disassembly or inspection through draft regulator may be required)    

Clearance to combustibles especially at flue vent connectors and with metal chimneys

21 Chimney flue conditions: mirror view inside flue when possible, via openings listed above    
22 Dead end flue, high risk of blockage    
23 Inspect heating systems for evidence of inadequate combustion air such as soot on or around gas-fired equipment (photo above) (WARNING: this is a very dangerous sign and merits immediate attention to avoid potentially fatal carbon monoxide poisoning).
Also see BOILER OPERATING PROBLEMS and also FLUE SIZE SPECIFICATIONS (undersized flue means backpressure or inadequate draft, but an over-sized flue can spell draft problems too, especially with gas-fired equipment).
24 Combustible clearances inadequate - between metal or other flues and nearby combustibles;    
25 Fire stopping missing or inadequate (often not visible)    
26 Metal flue not rated for application - wrong flue type    
27 Metal flue sections loose    
28 Metal flue sections connected in wrong order (water leaks)    
29 Transite (cement asbestos chimneys & flues (TRANSITE PIPE CHIMNEYS & FLUES)    
30 Evidence of abandoned chimneys, incomplete removal, collapse hazards, even hazards of attempted re-use (ABANDONED CHIMNEYS & also CHIMNEY COLLAPSE RISKS, REPAIRS)    
31 Three-sided chimneys: Three-Sided Chimneys: Problems    
32 Chimney & Fireplace Labels: all parts of a factory-built fireplace or chimney system (except in some jursidictions locally-made covers) must bear labels identifying the parts as listed for use with the fireplace model installed in the building. Examples of labeling issues and even counterfeit labels are at CHIMNEY SHROUD, Decorative    
33 Chimney & Fireplace Installation: all parts of a factory-built chimney must be installed according to instructions provided by the manufacturer and no parts can be damaged to an extent that would impair the function of that part.    


Additional fireplace safety inspection details are provided at FIREPLACES & HEARTHS, at FIREPLACE INSPECTION PRE-FAB at FIREPLACE INSERTS and at FIREPLACE INSPECTIONS


Appropriate repairs are recommended based upon the items presented in this article series. The inspector has to be very careful about how he/she states the reason for the recommendation since home inspectors are seldom code authorities or trades people and do not want to open the door to a liability action if an improper or delayed repair is made. But failure to state a reason for a needed repair risks that the building owner, occupant, buyer may fail to recognize an unsafe condition.


Continue reading at CHIMNEY SHROUDS or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.

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CHIMNEY INSPECTION INDOORS at - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.

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