How Much Does a Chimney Inspection Cost?

by Kim Causey
A skilled worker in protective gear and special uniform inspect the chimne

Chimney Inspection Costs at a Glance

  • Routine check: $79-$200
  • Thorough examination: $100-$500
  • Serious damage: $1,000-$5,000

As fall gives way to winter, the desire to curl up next to a warm, cozy, crackling fire in the fireplace is never far behind. Be sure your fireplace is ready to ignite some ambiance when the mood inevitably strikes this winter by scheduling a chimney inspection with a local chimney sweep.

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You can prevent problems with yearly chimney inspections, which can identify buildups, blockages and address problems that inhibit performance — and could even cause a house fire.

Read on to learn how much you should expect to pay for your annual chimney checkup.

Levels of Service

Most chimney inspectors or sweeps offer three levels of service:

Level 1

The average cost of this level is between $79 and $200. A Level 1 chimney inspection includes a visual check inside the fireplace, normally without the use of special equipment or climbing on the roof.

The sweep simply uses a flashlight and look for damage, obstructions, creosote buildup and soot. The contractor will inform you if the chimney needs sweeping and, if so, may go ahead and perform the cleaning right then, if you so direct them, for an extra charge.

Level 2

The average cost of this level is between $100 and $500. A Level 2 chimney inspection is vital if your house has been through a natural disaster or extreme weather event, such as an earthquake, tornado or hurricane. This is also important if you’ve made a major change to your fireplace or just bought your house.

This level of chimney inspection will include everything done in a Level 1, plus the inspector will visit the roof, attic and crawlspace to check for problems, and may use video scanning or other special tools. This level will also include a chimney sweep, and the inspector can suggest any repairs that may be needed.

Level 3

The average cost of this level is between $1,000 and $5,000. If you’re in need of a Level 3 chimney inspection, that means your chimney could be in pretty bad shape, structurally, and may necessitate demolition and subsequent rebuilding of the chimney walls; this is often the unfortunate result a chimney fire.

The cost of each level of chimney inspections is approximate and will vary depending on your location as well as the size and location of the chimney.

Reasons to Get a Chimney Inspection

Your chimney may appear to be in good condition on the outside, while hiding necessary repairs on the inside. A few red flags that you should have your chimney inspected include:

  • Cracks in the flue, which could cause a house fire
  • Masonry cracks, which can let the outside elements in
  • Creosote and animals nests, which also could cause a fire
  • Water damage, leading to costly repairs
  • You don’t know when the last inspection was done and would like peace of mind

How Often Do You Need a Chimney Inspection?

Your chimney, fireplace and vents should be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits and proper clearances; cleaning, maintenance and repairs should be performed on an as-needed basis. That's according to the national safety standard — if you feel like there are issues with your fireplace, or you notice animal nests or buildup, you should schedule an inspection.

Are Inspections Really Necessary?

Whether you got busy and forgot, don’t often use your fireplace or simply weren’t aware of why you should do an inspection, falling behind on your fireplace maintenance can get dangerous — and fast.

Safety is the primary reason homeowners should get regular chimney inspections. After all, you’re literally lighting a fire in your living room every time you use your fireplace, and that’s nothing to be cavalier about. Heat sources like chimneys are the second most common cause of home fire fatalities — and the leading contributor to that is homeowners’ failure to clean their fireplaces properly, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

Over time, all the smoke, gases and particles from the fires you’ve burned in your home create a buildup in your chimney. That residue is called creosote — and it’s extremely flammable. If left there unaddressed, it could cause an open fire of the type you wouldn’t roast chestnuts on, if you catch our drift. Another risk of not getting a chimney inspection done, besides the potential for a house fire, is carbon monoxide poisoning.

Some homeowners will try to clean their chimney themselves, but unless you’re confident you know what you’re doing, this is a job better left to the professionals. When hiring a contractor to inspect and service your chimney, be sure they are certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America; this ensures they're properly trained. You can also ask for references, and should verify they have a valid business license and liability insurance. If they tell you repair work needs to be done, remember to ask for an estimate as well as proof that the issue exists and, subsequently, has been fixed.

Since we’re all home now more than ever, being prepared for unexpected home repairs with a plan from HomeServe is important. Having a plan in place gives you the peace of mind knowing that you can simply call our 24/7 repair hotline for covered breakdowns. See what plans are available in your neighborhood.