Does your chimney need inspecting or repairing due to blockages, cracks, slow smoke evacuation, or other issues? Maybe they do, or perhaps they don’t. But here is some interesting reading on whether or not your chimney flue requires a chimney camera inspection.
A real fireplace is one of the greatest assets any property can boast about, not just for the cosmetics but also for the advantages of heating your home. However, implementing a defined maintenance strategy will be essential to enjoy the benefits with sustained results. Therefore, before completing your first fireplace inspection, you will naturally want to answer various questions – not least with the potential use of a chimney inspection camera.
This quick guide will reveal everything you need to know about using a chimney inspection camera within the fireplace inspection so that you can make a conscious choice when hiring a professional to service your home.
Firstly, how important is a fireplace inspection?
A chimney and fireplace inspection assesses your chimney and ventilation system. While it is possible to do this yourself, hiring an experienced professional on the case is always preferential. For starters, they can identify the signs of creosote build-up, flue blockages, leaks, cracks, and other damage that could impact the function or structural integrity of the fireplace. Of course, this chimney inspection camera process takes time and resources to complete, but the safety of your family and the investment in your home is well worth the investment.
There are over 25,000 chimney fires in the U.S. each year. While it is impossible to eradicate the risks, keeping the ventilation system in good health will significantly reduce the likelihood. A thorough analysis, with or without the use of a chimney sweep camera, also promises to deliver the following benefits;
● Improved air quality due to the removal of soot and potential blockages within the ventilation system.
● Better heating efficiency due to an efficient burn helps create a warm and comfortable atmosphere.
● As of 2023, the financial savings by preventing escalating damage – the average chimney costs around $3,000 to repair, plus the repairs to any affected rooms.
● Time savings, especially if you are inexperienced in this field and do not know what to look for.
● Peace of mind for all the family because you’ll know that an expert has completed the job.
In short, fireplace inspections are extremely valuable, while experts at the National Fire Protection Association suggest that homeowners arrange an annual assessment.
Will an expert use a chimney inspection camera?
The history of chimneys can be traced back to at least the 13th century in Italy, while chimney sweeps started to be used in the 17th. Unsurprisingly, the landscape has dramatically evolved in the centuries since then. Over the past few decades, technological advancements have been at the heart of those developments. The chimney inspection camera, also known as a flue camera, is one of the most important features.
While a chimney sweep camera is not mandatory, any contractor committed to delivering the best chimney inspection service will use one. Aside from allowing chimney sweeps to provide a better level of service, the practical solution additionally helps homeowners save time and money.
The use of chimney sweep cameras is still in its relative infancy, but the technology has evolved as cameras are now more compact and reliable. Generally, borescope cameras featuring LED lights and a long insertion shaft will be used. This allows the user to complete various tasks, making it one of the most versatile pieces of equipment available. Meanwhile, modern flue cameras are wireless, adding even greater convenience and control.
When hiring a professional to conduct your fireplace inspection and maintenance, you want an expert who can perform the work to higher standards than you ever could. Selecting a company that uses a chimney inspection camera will instantly increase your hopes of success.
When is a chimney inspection camera used?
Chimney inspections are split into three main categories, with level 1 being a basic assessment suitable for homeowners who have yet to experience noticeable problems. Level 2 inspections are necessary before selling a home or when you’ve had a house fire. It’s also required if there has been a local earthquake. Level 3 is the most comprehensive service and may involve removing parts of the chimney’s interior for in-depth analysis.
A chimney inspection camera may not be required for a level 1 inspection, although it can still be an advantageous feature that facilitates quick and accurate findings. Professional chimney sweeps will almost always be used for level 2 and 3 examinations.
Several types of camera lenses could be used for the job, which is another reason for hiring a professional service rather than purchasing a chimney sweep camera yourself. For example, a fixed lens on a stationary camera may be used in the uppermost part of the chimney. Conversely, a tilt-zoom camera may be selected when the expert needs to see a greater range of angles. Your technician will choose the right equipment to deliver the desired results.
Chimney inspection cameras are primarily used when the technician cannot see or reach a specific part of the chimney and ventilation system. However, this can extend to your crawlspace and attic too.
What can a chimney sweep camera actually spot?
Chimney inspection cameras are an excellent tool for allowing experts to gain a quick overview of the chimney’s interior features, especially in areas where a traditional visual inspection is difficult.
In addition to the millions of older properties featuring active chimneys, research shows that over 350,000 new U.S. homes are constructed with fireplaces yearly. Naturally, there can be a massive contrast in general condition from one chimney flue to the next. A chimney inspection camera can, therefore, be used to support a range of assessments, such as;
● Checking chimney flue blockages
An estimated 30% of all home heating equipment fires can be attributed to not cleaning creosote from chimneys. If you have noticed falling debris, water streaks, or excessive soot, the chimney is likely blocked. Creosote is the primary cause, possibly due to dislodged bricks or small nesting animals. Either way, identifying the blockage will be crucial.
A flue camera may be used where visibility is low or there is a noticeable resistance when pushing other items through the flue. A professional chimney cleaning will clear the blockage. While using the chimney maintenance door and a mirror is one way to inspect for blockages, a camera will produce the most apparent results.
● Spotting fallen bricks
If you have noticed that a brick has fallen down the chimney and into the fireplace, it’s an issue that you’ll need to fix ASAP. However, before any repair work can occur, it will be necessary to identify where the brick fell from. Chimney sweep cameras deliver the most efficient solution, enabling experts to find the source of your problem within seconds.
As well as, finding exactly where the brick fell makes it easier to understand the reason for crumbling mortar or spalling brickwork. Furthermore, the chimney inspection camera will show whether adjacent bricks are at risk of structural damage. Finally, the right chimney repair services can be selected to prevent escalating damage and restore the flue.
● Identify stress cracks
Over time, the stress on the chimney flue may lead to cracks or holes. It is easier to spot these with a chimney sweep camera. The camera can conduct a thorough inspection and find faint cracks. By implementing a fast response, restoring the chimney for optimal safety and efficiency will be possible.
Depending on the severity of the crack, the response could be pretty straightforward. But, crucially, this will allow you to stop the damage before it has a chance to escalate and cause damage to the external parts of the chimney. In addition, preventative measures can be used to protect the chimney’s long-term health. Adding a heat shield, for example, can work wonders.
● Confirming the general health of the chimney
Chimney inspections aren’t only used when there is a known problem. For example, you may be a new homeowner who wants to confirm that the chimney you’ve inherited is safe or a landlord looking to ensure the fireplace’s safety before taking on new tenants. Or it could be a part of your annual home maintenance for peace of mind.
The flue will feature bends, making it almost impossible for you to gain a complete view of what’s happening inside the chimney. Instead, a chimney sweep camera enables your technician to complete a 360° inspection of the chimney. Even when it proves no blockages are present, it allows your contractor to suggest ongoing chimney care tips.
Regardless of the exact assignment within the fireplace inspection process, the function of a chimney sweep camera is to let the technician identify problems and select the proper maintenance or repair work. Alternatively, the camera inspection may confirm that the chimney smoke chamber and flue system are healthy.
When asked, “Do chimney sweeps use cameras?” the answer is “Yes, although not always.” While there are some circumstances in which a simple chimney assessment will not require a camera, the live video footage provides a convenient and cost-effective solution deemed helpful for most inspections.