Photograph of a damaged unsafe brick chimney in an attic. Indoor Chimney & Flue Inspection, Diagnosis, Cleaning & Repair Guide

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Chimney inspection procedures for the building interior: this article describes procedures for inspecting the condition of chimneys and flues from inside of a building. We begin in the building attic (or on the building's highest floor) and continue downwards through the building with text and photographs describing chimney damage or chimney hazards for which the building owner, inspector, or service technician should be alert.

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.

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Inspecting Chimneys from Inside a Building Attic

Photograph of a damaged unsafe brick chimney in an attic.Interior basement and attic inspections will reveal corrosion at the cleanout door, connector problems and flashing leaks. And close inspection of chimney surfaces or walls covering chimneys will often disclose evidence of dangerous chimney conditions such as holes, gaps, and cracks in the chimney structure.

Other chimney defects & hazards visible from inside the building are found at Attic Chimney Inspection and at CHIMNEY CLEANOUT DOORS.

Indoors inspect any visible areas of the exterior of the chimney while you are inside the building. Attic access to a chimney or basement access, may provide key inspection points since there the chimney is likely to be directly accessible and there may be cleanout or other access ports to check the condition of the chimney interior.

In this photo the exterior of this chimney, visible in an attic, was in very poor condition, with soft spalling bricks.

Worse, there was an immediate fire and gas hazard since there were actual openings at the base of this chimney where it passes through the attic floor framing. This is a serious fire hazard and a flue gas leak hazard. This flue is unsafe.

Inspect the entire route of the chimney through all building areas. Even if the chimney is not directly visible you may find evidence of leaks, movement, or old chimney penetrations, say for a woodstove, that may not have been safely closed.

Holes in Masonry Chimneys - Missing Bricks

Photograph of a damaged unsafe brick chimney in an attic. Photograph of a damaged unsafe brick chimney in an attic.

Missing chimney bricks: this photo shows a homeowner "repair" involving putting aluminum sheet metal over a hole in their chimney to make it "safe" - removing the metal disclosed a nice hole where bricks were missing. We asked the homeowner where s/he thought those bricks had gone?

This was a very unsafe chimney. The second photo shows the chimney hole with the sheet metal removed. The bricks had fallen down and blocked this flue, creating a potentially fatal carbon monoxide (CO Gas) hazard which was first noticed by the homeowners as a basement water problem - water was condensing and running down basement walls.

Continue Reading: The topic of how to spot unsafe chimneys and other chimney defects from indoor clues continues at Attic Chimney Inspection and at CHIMNEY CLEANOUT DOORS.

Also be sure to read FLUE VENT CONNECTORS, HEATING EQUIPMENT and our Fire Clearances articles (links at the "More Reading" links at the bottom of this article ).

This article series also includes articles on CHIMNEY INSPECTION, FLUE INTERIOR and on additional hazards at chimney cleanout doors, fireplaces, and woodstoves (links at the "More Reading" links at the bottom of this article ).

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