Homeowners with chimneys should have them inspected each year. In some areas, your homeowners insurance company or HOA may even require this. A chimney inspection is meant to detect problems with your chimney in order to prevent accidents such as fires, carbon monoxide poisoning, and smoke buildup in the home. But what problems, exactly, will a chimney inspector look for? Here are the key ones.

Creosote Buildup

Creosote is a sticky, black substance that can build up on the inside of your fireplace and chimney. If you're using your chimney perfectly, you should not have any creosote buildup. But it can occur when you burn green wood or when your wood does not burn hot enough. Creosote is flammable, so you really don't want to see it on your chimney. If your chimney inspector sees it, they will remove it for you.

Cracks in the Chimney Liner

The chimney liner is a metal or ceramic sleeve that runs up the chimney. It is meant to contain smoke and gasses so they don't leak out from between the chimney bricks and into your home or walls. A cracked chimney liner could also allow water into your home in some cases. So, your chimney inspector will generally send a camera down the chimney to see whether there are any cracks in the liner. Cracked liners can be repaired or replaced, depending on the extent of the damage and the location of the crack.

Clear Vents

Another thing your chimney inspector will look at is any vents associated with your fireplace or chimney. They'll check that they are clear, and they'll also make sure any vent covers are intact. Vent covers may not seem that important, but they keep leaves and debris out of the chimney, which is important to prevent clogs and blockages in the fall.

Soot or Smoke Marks

This will take barely any time at all, but the inspector will peek around inside your home in the area surrounding the fireplace. What they're looking for is any soot or smoke marks that would indicate the chimney is not ventilated properly. If they do see any evidence of poor ventilation, they can then look for possible causes.

Don't put off your home chimney inspection. Now that you have a better idea of what the inspector is looking for, you can do a more thorough job of keeping on-schedule with this maintenance.