Successful chimney sweeps now use the latest technology such as smart phones, digital cameras, a chim-scan and computers to diagnose the condition of your chimney during an inspection.

The industry is changing fast and Chimney Top Masonry is on top of it. All of our technicians are equipped with the latest and best technology available to provide complete, accurate chimney inspections. Chimney video inspection systems are expensive but we think you are worth it.

When you have your chimney swept or inspected the acceptable practice is to have a chimney video inspection. Anything less and the job is not done right.

Why do I need my chimney flue scanned?

Masonry chimneys are built of bricks and clay flue tiles. A chimney sweep can only see a small distance into the flue with a flashlight. Only a chimney inspection done with a video scan can uncover defects that could be dangerous.

Prefabricated chimneys can rust and deteriorate, especially if the installation is faulty. Sometimes it can be a brand new home that has an improperly built chimney. Whatever the problem, if there is one, you want to know.

Gaps, cracks or separations in the chimney flue prevent the chimney from containing the products of combustion. Carbon monoxide, heat, and sparks can escape into the surrounding combustible surfaces behind your fireplace and flue.

There are companies out there that will tell you that you don't need a scan. They may not have the equipment to do it, but whatever their reason for saying that, they are wrong! Video inspections are necessary for your safety and peace of mind.

Homeowners rely on video inspection of their chimneys for safety and efficiency.

No homeowner should assume his chimney is safe for use without a thorough examination, both exterior and interior. Rain, flue gases, and freezing moisture cause erosion and deterioration in chimneys. Breaks in the chimney liner - even small ones - can be an unsafe condition by allowing combustion gases and condensation into the home.

Every homeowner needs accurate information about his or her chimney's condition. In the past, the examination of the chimney interior involved either an ineffective flashlight and mirror or the expensive disassembly of part of the chimney to see problem areas. Now with the video inspection service, it is easy to obtain an accurate evaluation of your chimney's interior.

Your chimney inspector will be able to show you these unsafe chimney conditions, if they exist:

  • Improper new construction
  • Chimney fire damage
  • Improper prefab chimney connections
  • Deterioration from gas appliance connections
  • Cracks, even hairline cracks, in flue liners
  • Broken or missing tile liners and mortar joints
  • Deterioration from smoke shelf or damper
  • "Quick-fixed" thimble holes
  • Hidden breachings
  • Nest, limbs and other blockages

Insurance adjustors and fire inspectors depend on video inspections for accurate information.

The increased use of fireplaces and wood heat has resulted in an increase in chimney fires. When conducting a damage investigation related to a chimney fire, a video inspection service can give the reliable information you need. An examination soon after the fire can determine the cause of damage: whitened mortar joints, blaze marks, missing mortar, cracks and discoloration in liners and buckling of steel liners are indications of chimney fire damage.

Your inspection may provide several report formats: A written report on a chimney evaluation form, photographs taken from the inspection monitor, or even a video CD recording of the inspection.

A video inspection of a chimney interior offers both the Fire Investigator and the Insurance Adjustor these important benefits:

  • You get detailed information, obtained only inches away from the chimney walls.
    You get complete documentation in a variety of formats.
  • You save time on claim processing by getting reliable information easily. An estimate for repair may also be offered by the chimney inspector.
  • A chimney interior video inspection offers homeowners and fire inspectors accurate information.
  • Accurate information is important for making decisions about a chimney.

Video camera scanning is the most reliable method for examining the condition of chimney flue liners. The remote camera sends a video image back to the control console's monitor. The system also allows for capturing digital still photographs of the flue liner. This is especially helpful for documenting defects for real estate transactions and insurance claims.

Vitreous clay tile is the predominant material used for flue liners in the Rochester area. These liners are particularly susceptible to damage from chimney fires and rain water penetration. The high heat of a chimney fire is often enough to crack a clay tile liner. Rain water, melting snow, and water vapor condensation from gas furnaces can be absorbed into these liners and then freeze in cold weather. This freezing action often results in the cracking of clay tile liners.

Another issue with these liners is when the mortar joints between liner sections breaks down due to water penetration. Often times, these seams deteriorate to a point where there are large gaps between the liners sections. These open seams are just as potentially serious as cracks and holes in the body of the liner.

Defective liners can allow toxic gases to seep into the home. They also greatly reduce the protective function that the liner provides in the event of a chimney fire. Cracks and gaps may also have a negative impact on the drafting of fireplaces and appliances such as furnaces and water heaters. The most common solution for a defective liner is to have it replaced. Stainless steel replacement liners are very common for fireplaces while aluminum replacement liners are often used to vent furnaces and water heaters.

There are times when chimney problem symptoms are presenting themselves, but a visual inspection; a full exterior surface examination, and a look at all flue connections, does not fully reveal the problem. Then we need to bring in the Video Scan equipment and take a closer look inside the smoke chamber and chimney lining to pinpoint the exact location of the problem.

This would fall under what is called a Level 2 Inspection and is only called for when normal visual inspection does not give enough information to diagnose the problem. Video Scan technology sends a camera that is mounted on a swiveling wire rods extending up the chimney. The camera is attached to a self contained unit with a viewing screen or a laptop. As the Certified Chimney Sweep Technician operates the camera and guides it through the chimney, the video is recorded for additional review once the scan is complete.

When do I need a Chimney Video Scan?

Usually this type of in-depth look at the chimney will reveal the exact nature of the damage and we will provide a full estimate. Our digital video data will be provided for you via email if you would like to review the imagery for yourself. Masonry chimneys tend to have cracks and breaks along the walls of the liners and the only way to spot the exact location is to use this technology. Pre-fabricated chimneys can rust and may have defects in assembly that cause problems that can only be seen using the camera. Even in older metal chimney liners corrosion can cause pin-holes that can present risk to the integrity of the chimney system.

Usually, if substantial defects exist, a new liner may be required to fix the situation. Then the surrounding area around the liner can be filled with a vermiculite coating that is poured down the chimney after installation, drying around the liner. The new liner can also be wrapped in a ceramic wool covering before it is installed in the chimney.