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How Much Does It Cost to Inspect a Chimney?

Low
$85
Average Cost
$450
High
$5,000
(level 2 inspection of masonry chimney with cleaning of 2 flues)

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How Much Does It Cost to Inspect a Chimney?

Low
$85
Average Cost
$450
High
$5,000
(level 2 inspection of masonry chimney with cleaning of 2 flues)

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If you have a fireplace, wood or pellet stove, or use a flue to vent your heating system, it’s important to have your chimney inspected at least once a year. No matter what you are burning or what your chimney is made from, it can develop issues over time, from minor cracks to significant structural problems that could contribute to chimney fires.

Regular inspections help ensure that your chimney is safe for use. There are different levels of chimney inspections, just as there are different types of chimneys and different numbers of flues within one chimney. For this reason, there can be a range of costs associated with having a chimney inspected. The national average is $300 to $600, with most homeowners paying around $450 for a level 2 inspection with cleaning for two flues. At the low end of the spectrum is a level 1 inspection with no cleaning of a pellet stove chimney for $85, while at the high end is a level 3 inspection of a masonry chimney and cleaning two flues for $5,000.

Chimney Inspection Cost

Average Chimney Inspection Price
National average cost$450
Average range$300-$600
Minimum cost$85
Maximum cost

$5,000


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Chimney Inspection Cost by Project Range

Low
$85
Level 1 inspection of pellet stove chimney with no cleaning
Average Cost
$450
Level 2 inspection of masonry chimney with cleaning of 2 flues
High
$5,000
Level 3 inspection of masonry chimney with two flues

Chimney Inspection Cost by Type

There are three different levels of chimney inspections outlined by the National Fire Protection Association. They range from routine to invasive and can be conducted on any type or size of chimney. The timing of these cleanings and determining when you should have them done does vary by your chimney and your circumstances. Each one carries a different cost, with level 1 and level 2 inspections being able to take place at the same time as cleaning, with additional costs.


Chimney Inspection Cost


Inspection levelCost range
Level 1$85-$950
Level 2$150-$1,000
Level 3$500-$5,000


Level 1 Chimney Inspection Cost

Level 1 chimney inspections should be performed yearly if you use your chimney regularly. If you have not used your chimney in a while or have purchased a new home, then a level 1 inspection should also be conducted to make sure that the chimney is in good condition and ready to use. A level 1 inspection is frequently conducted at the same time as a chimney cleaning, as part of regular maintenance.

During a level 1 inspection, the chimney sweep examines the chimney visually using a flashlight. They check the interior and visible parts of the exterior, looking for cracks, excessive creosote buildup, or signs of wear and damage. This inspection can cost anywhere from $85 to $950, depending on the size and type of chimney.

Level 2 Chimney Inspection Cost

If the level 1 chimney inspection shows any signs of wear or damage, if you have experienced a recent significant storm or environmental disaster, or if you have had a minor chimney fire, then a level 2 inspection is warranted. In a level 2 inspection, cameras are used to get a better view of the chimney interior. The chimney will be inspected from the roof, as well as from the fireplace or flue opening, and the sweep will likely need to access your attic, crawl space, and other areas to visualize as much of the chimney as possible. Cleaning is also frequently conducted at the same time as a level 2 inspection. This can cost $150 to $1,000.

Level 3 Chimney Inspection

Level 3 inspections are not conducted unless your sweep suspects serious structural issues with the chimney. If you have had a significant chimney fire, or the level 2 inspection has shown serious signs of damage that cannot be fully assessed with the camera, then a level 3 inspection is done.

This is an invasive inspection where parts of the chimney will be removed to better visualize the flues. This may mean removing drywall or other surface coverings as well. For this reason, once the inspection is complete, you will likely have repairs to be made not only to the chimney, but also to the surrounding areas. Depending on where the suspected damage is located and how hard it is to reach, this type of inspection could cost $500 to $5,000 to complete.


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Chimney Inspection Costs per Flue

Your chimney may include more than one flue or chamber inside of it. It’s very common for some homes to have multiple flues, one for a fireplace, one for a wood stove, and more for things like the HVAC system to vent through. Inspections don’t need to be performed on every chamber every year, particularly if you aren’t using them all. But, if you do use more than one chamber, or you plan to start using additional chambers, then you will need to have them all inspected. For this reason, costs for level 1 and level 2 inspections can be prorated for additional flues. Because a level 3 inspection involves opening up the chimney itself, costs are the same regardless of how many flues, since complete demolition is often necessary to fix the issues.


Chimney Inspection Costs per Flue

Chimney Inspection Costs per Flue


Inspection type and number of fluesCost
Level 1 - 1 flue$85-$250
Level 1 - 2 flues$150-$550
Level 1 - 3 flues$450-$750
Level 1 - 4 flues$550-$950
Level 2 - 1 flue$150-$400
Level 2 - 2 flues$300-$600
Level 2 - 3 flues$500-$800
Level 2 - 4 flues$600-$1,000


Chimney Inspection and Cleaning Cost

Most inspections will include cleaning as part of the process. This is done so that the sweep can better visualize the interior of the chimney; creosote build-up on the chimney walls can obscure some issues. It is possible, however, to have an inspection done on a clean chimney after years of disuse, before or after a sale, or after an earthquake or other natural disaster that prompts the inspection.

However, it’s most common for any chimney cleaning to include a level 1 inspection as part of the process, with some including a level 2 inspection as needed. During the cleaning, creosote and any debris are loosened from the top down, then vacuumed away. If there are obstructions in the flue, such as birds’ nests, these are removed. Depending on the state of the chimney, it may be inspected first, then cleaned, or cleaned first so that the inspector can better visualize areas that may have been obscured by soot or other obstructions.

The average cost of a chimney inspection with cleaning is around $175 for a level 1 inspection for 1 flue and around $450 for a level 2 inspection for 2 flues. Usually, chimney sweeps charge a flat rate per inspection/cleaning appointment. However, a home inspector may charge by the hour at a rate of $100 per hour. A level 1 inspection will take approximately 20 minutes to complete, a level 2 inspection takes at least 60 minutes, while level 3 inspections can last several days if major structural changes need to be made. If inspection reports are generated on-site, an additional 20 minutes of service time is required.

Chimney inspection reports are usually generated quickly following an inspection. Many inspection reports are broken down into checklists and will include different scenarios the inspector found. Examples include chimney cap damage, heavy soot or creosote buildup, crown defects, flue damage, flue blockages, rusty or damaged dampers, unlined flues, unsafe clearance, and missing cleanout doors.

Chimney Camera Inspection Cost

Using a camera to inspect the interior of the chimney is part of a level 2 inspection. This is what helps the sweep or the inspector get a better visualization of the chimney, flue, and the liner. The cost of a camera inspection starts around $150 - $400 for a single flue.

If video inspections are done, an inspector will usually provide a digital copy of the recording via email.


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Chimney Maintenance Cost

Most of the maintenance for a chimney is something that you will take care of yourself. This includes:

  • Removing the ashes from wood-burning fireplaces and stoves immediately after cooling
  • Only using dry, seasoned wood in a fireplace or stove, or using manufactured logs with the CSIA Seal of Approval
  • Opening the damper before lighting any fires in the fireplace
  • Never burning a fire for longer than 5 hours in a single day, and closing the damer after the fire is extinguished and before removing any ashes
  • Cleaning the firebox at least weekly when the fireplace is in use, and wiping out the firebox completely at the end of the season

Good maintenance also includes a yearly inspection and professional cleaning of the chimney and flues, for a yearly cost between $100 and $500 on average.

Seismic Considerations for Chimneys

If you live in an area that may be impacted by earthquakes, you may want to have your chimney inspected for defects that can lead to a collapse in the event of an earthquake. Crumbling mortar, missing steel straps, and separation between the chimney and the building can all cause significant problems in the event of an earthquake. Having a level 2 inspection done for $150 - $1,000 can help prevent future issues.

In addition, if your home has already been affected by an earthquake, you should have a second inspection done before you use the fireplace. The earthquake could cause interior cracks that can lead to house or chimney fires, so having a level 2 inspection done after an earthquake can identify any potential issues.

Do I Need a Chimney Inspection?

As part of a home maintenance plan, every homeowner must hire a chimney inspector. On an annual basis, before the weather turns cold, a chimney inspector confirms the safety of your chimney. During an annual inspection, a certified inspector looks for any potential clearance issues that could negatively affect operation. Deposits such as soot, creosote, and debris can build up over time. Birds and other wildlife may block the chimney with their nesting materials.

Even if the chimney looks solid without any damage on the exterior, interior issues may be present, including cracks and rusting metal. Inspectors identify any issues that could lead to a chimney fire or carbon monoxide exposure. According to the National Fire Protection Association, heating equipment is responsible for 15% of all residential fires and 19% of home fire fatalities. Addressing any chimney issues identified during an inspection improves heating efficiency and overall safety.

Chimney inspectors are also contracted when home heating issues occur. Signs that an inspection is needed include a burnt odor when heating a room, excessive smoke from a fireplace, and poorly burning fires. When a fireplace is not in use, you can reach inside the liner to check for evidence of greasy buildup of soot or creosote. Grease increases fire risk, while creosote emits dangerous odors that can be toxic to humans.

Many states require a chimney inspection when buying or selling a property. This type of chimney inspection is more detailed than a visual inspection performed annually. Any issues found during the inspection may need to be resolved prior to the issuance of a certificate of occupancy. Furthermore, homeowner insurance policies will likely require a chimney inspection before providing coverage.

How Often Should a Chimney be Inspected?

According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), chimneys need to be inspected regularly under certain circumstances. If you use your chimney regularly, it should be inspected and cleaned yearly. If you have not used your chimney in a while, and want to start using it, having it inspected first can help you ensure that it’s safe to do so.

The exact timing of when you get your chimney inspected can be impacted by several factors. Chimneys connected to open masonry-style fireplaces may need inspections sooner if there is evidence of soot buildup in excess of 1/8-inch. A common misconception is that chimneys connected to gas fireplaces don’t require an annual inspection like wood-burning fireplaces. However, gas fireplaces are still prone to blockage issues from wildlife like birds. Also, debris builds up from the ceramic logs throughout the year. Cracks inside the chimney may occur and lead to condensation issues. Condensation damages the flue tiles and can eventually cause them to break off.

Homeowners who use their fireplace only minimally often choose to forego an annual inspection and opt for an inspection every other year. However, aging chimneys should be inspected at least once a year, as they are more susceptible to structural failure. New construction projects should be inspected before initial use and midway through the fire heating season.


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Enhancement and Improvement Costs

Chimney Cleaning Cost

It’s a good idea to have your chimney cleaned regularly, and this can be done at the same time as the inspection. Cleaning your chimney reduces the amount of creosote build-up on the interior. Creosote is one of the leading causes of chimney fires, so having your chimney cleaned can help prevent this from occurring. The average cost of a chimney cleaning is $100 to $500.

Chimney Repair Cost

Chimney repairs may be needed following an inspection. A chimney cap replacement is needed if your cap has been damaged due to poor weather conditions or wildlife. The average cost to have a replacement cap installed by a professional is $350. When the chimney crown is damaged, the excess water can cause bricks to separate and damage clay tiles. The total cost of chimney crown repair is around $900.

Chimney Liner Replacement Cost

Your chimney will be lined with clay, tiles, or metal. This can develop cracks and other issues over time and may eventually need replacement. If this is the case, you can expect costs of around $1,800 to $2,500 on average.

Masonry Repair Cost

If the masonry on your chimney is cracking or crumbling, a repair will be necessary to prevent it from collapsing. Rebuilding or tuckpointing the masonry to the roofline costs between $1,000 and $3,000 on average.

Additional Considerations and Costs

  • If you do not currently use your chimney, you should still have it inspected if you have experienced a natural disaster to help ensure it’s structurally intact. Otherwise, if you plan to use it in the future, it’s a good idea to get it inspected first.
  • Some home inspections will include a basic, cursory chimney inspection. In some areas, however, you may be required to do a more thorough inspection or to provide documentation of an inspection prior to the sale.
  • Permits may be needed for a Level 3 chimney inspection, depending on how much construction work is needed to evaluate any hidden areas of the chimney.
  • Contractors may apply the cost of the inspection toward any subsequent repairs that were identified during your appointment.
  • Chimney inspections are never a DIY project. Only licensed contractors are qualified to perform Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 inspections. Homeowners can scan their chimneys for any visible blockages or debris buildup but should contact professionals for further assistance.
  • Choose inspectors certified by the Chimney Sweep Institute of America and confirm that the service provider is licensed and insured.
  • Each state has their own home inspection laws, but some states may require a level 2 chimney inspection for real estate transactions. For instance, New Jersey requires a level 2 inspection that will disclose any chimney defects.

FAQs

  • How much does it cost to have your chimney inspected?

There are many factors that can impact the total cost of your inspection. Most people pay around $450 for an inspection with cleaning.

  • How long does a chimney inspection take?

This depends on the type of inspection. Level 1 inspections are fairly quick - about 20 to 30 minutes. Level 2 inspections can take longer, up to one to two hours, depending on the chimney. Level 3 inspections are all individual and require some demolition, so some could take hours, while others could take days to complete.

  • How can I find a good chimney service/chimney sweep near me?

The Better Business Bureau is a good place to start when looking for a service. Always contact at least three businesses for estimates and references before you hire someone.

  • Is a chimney inspection part of a home inspection?

It can be, but isn’t always. You will need to ask the inspector what he or she includes.

  • How long does it take to clean a chimney?

This depends on the number of flues, the amount of creosote, and how long it’s been since the last cleaning. It can take 1-2 hours on average.

  • How do you inspect a chimney?

The exterior of a chimney is visually scanned for any masonry defects. All working parts are evaluated to confirm they are functioning properly. The roof, attic, and flue will be looked at through Level 2 inspections and above.​

Cost to inspect a chimney varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

Updated:
The information provided by our cost guides comes from a great variety of sources, including specialized publications and websites, cost studies, U.S. associations, reports from the U.S. government, contractors and subcontractors, material suppliers, material price services, and other vendor websites. For more information, read our Methodology and sources.
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Cost to inspect a chimney varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

The information provided by our cost guides comes from a great variety of sources, including specialized publications and websites, cost studies, U.S. associations, reports from the U.S. government, contractors and subcontractors, material suppliers, material price services, and other vendor websites. For more information, read our Methodology and sources.