Antique coal burning fireplace Poughkeepsie (C) Daniel Friedman Fireplace Inspection Procedures & Checklist
Tips from a Chimney Sweep & from code experts

  • FIREPLACE INSPECTIONS - CONTENTS: Fireplace safety inspection checklist - indoor procedures. Indoor chimney inspection points around the fireplace. Fireplace hazards listed by a chimney sweep professional
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about procedures for inspecting fireplaces, hearths, chimneys from inside the building

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Fireplace safety & structural inspections - indoor procedures: this article describes Fireplace Inspections performed from indoors, listing a professional chimney sweep's fireplace and chimney hazard checklist for problems that can be found by visual inspection at the fireplace or chimney cleanout.

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Fireplace Inspection Checklist

Antique coal burning fireplace Poughkeepsie (C) Daniel FriedmanIn the 1980's Bill Murphy, Hudson Valley Chimney Sweeps, met with New York Metro ASHI home inspectors to list his biggest safety worries when inspecting a fireplace or fireplace chimney flue from indoors.

Here is the list of concerns Bill provided, in alphabetic order, not in order of level of risk. From a variety of fire safety inspection sources we have added a few items beyond what Murphy originally listed, and readers are welcome to us to add other inspection suggestions.

Zero clearance metal fireplace (C) Daniel Friedman

Visible fireplace chimney flue condition

At FIREPLACE INSERTS we detail the exploration of the condition of a cast-iron "fireplace" or fireplace grate that was originally intended for burning large chunks of coal, probably soft coal. This installation was found in a home built in Poughkeepsie NY ca 1900 and restored by the author.

Antique coal burning fireplace Poughkeepsie (C) Daniel Friedman Antique coal burning fireplace Poughkeepsie (C) Daniel Friedman

Modern Fireplace Inserts for Burning Wood, Coal, Pellet Fuel

Fireplace insert (C) Daniel Friedman

A modern fireplace insert for burning wood is shown at left. You can see why inspecting the chimney from inside is impossible without removing the appliance.

This installation is particularly interesting. If you click to enlarge the photo you can see light colored bricks at the right of the fireplace insert: the installer appears to have bricked the original fireplace opening to better fit the new insert.

Watch out: adding a fireplace insert that moves the fire doors closer to the edge of the hearth reduces fire clearance (for heat or if the doors are open, sparks and coals) between the appliance opening and nearby combustibles or flooring.

The owners have placed a "fireproof rug" in front of this unit - that semi-circular carpet observed on the floor. Is this adequate? Be sure to consult your local fire inspector when installing or converting a fireplace or fuel burning appliance.

Woodstove inserted (C) Daniel Friedman

Unsafe Fireplace Inserts

By "fireplace insert" we refer to a wood or coal-burning stove designed to be inserted into an existing masonry fireplace opening.

The wood-stove installed in the fireplace at left may work in such a location, but it was not designed as an "insert" - and does not fit the opening of this odd fireplace. In fact not much would fit in this angled firebox.

Placing the feet of the woodstove past the hearth and onto a rug, as well as less than 3' from combustibles, are further fire hazards - this is an unsafe installation.


Fireplace & Woodstove Articles


Continue reading at FIREPLACE DAMPERS or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.


Or see CHIMNEY FLUE INSPECTION CAMERA to inspect masonry chimney flue interiors

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