17.1  About These Standards for Inspecting Fireplaces and Chimneys
Although this Standard applies to both commercial and residential fireplaces and chimneys, it exceeds the requirements of both InterNACHI-CCPIA’s Commercial and Residential Standards of Practices. The inspection shall include examination of readily accessible and visible portions of solid-fuel-burning, low-heat fireplaces and chimneys.
17.2  Purpose
The purpose of this document is to establish international standards for the inspection of fireplaces and chimneys. This document also provides universal fireplace and chimney inspection reporting language.
17.3  Definitions
17.3.1  Fireplace and Chimney-Specific Definitions
  • accessible:  in the opinion of the inspector, can be approached or entered safely without difficulty, fear or danger.
  • chimney:   a structure containing one or more flues for removing gases to the outside atmosphere.
  • cleanout:  an opening in a chimney that provides access to the flue for cleaning purposes.
  • clearance:  the minimum distance through air measured between the surface of something heat-producing and the surface of something combustible.
  • connector:  the pipe that connects a fuel-burning appliance to a chimney.
  • crown:  the sloped top of a masonry chimney designed to shed water away from the flue; also called a splay or wash.
  • damper:  a manually operated plate for controlling draft in a flue.
  • fireplace lintel:  a horizontal, non-combustible member that spans the top of the fireplace opening.
  • flue:  a passage through which gases move from the fire chamber to the outer air.
  • hearth:  the floor within a fireplace.
  • hearth extension:  non-combustible material in front of and at the sides of a fireplace opening.
  • mantel:  a shelf or horizontal ornament above a fireplace opening.
  • Phase I:  a type of fireplace and chimney inspection that exceeds the standards required by a traditional home inspection.
  • single-wall metal chimney:  a field-constructed chimney not permitted in one- and two-family dwellings.
  • solid fuel:  wood, coal, pellets, and other materials that can be burned for heat.
  • thimble:  the tube or lining through a wall that a connector passes through to enter a flue or that a flue passes through to exit a roof.
  • wall protector:  non-combustible shield between a wall and anything heat-producing for the purpose of reducing the required clearance.
17.3.2  Terminology Commonly Found in Commercial Property Inspection Reports
17.4  Goal of the Inspection
The goal of the inspection is to provide observations which may lead to the decrease of hazardous conditions associated with fireplaces and chimneys.  
17.5  Limitations
The inspection is limited to readily accessible and visible portions of the fireplace and chimney.  The inspection should not be considered all-inclusive or technically exhaustive. 
This Standard does not require the inspector to:
  • inspect appliances, wall furnaces, stoves, water heaters, incinerators, mechanical draft systems, draft regulators, catalytic converters, pollution-control devices, heat-reclamation devices, spark arrestors, induced-draft chimneys, fire-stopping, or for condensation issues.  
  • determine fire rating, adequacy of combustion air, status of product listing, compliance with manufacturers’ instructions, proper clearances, proper load paths, combustibility, proper placement of flue size changes, proper thimble installation, or repair history.  
  • remove or inspect fireplace inserts, stoves or accessories.
  • determine the need for fire-stopping, chimney enclosures, hearth thickness mitigation, or seismic reinforcing.  
  • test smoke detectors or carbon-monoxide detectors.
  • perform video scans, smoke tests, flue-gas measurements, or engineering calculations.
These Standards do not apply to the inspection of mobile homes.
17.6  Optional Add-On Inspection Service
Although InterNACHI-CCPIA’s Standards of Practice for Inspecting Commercial Properties and InterNACHI’s Standards of Practice for Performing a General Home Inspection do not require the inspector to perform a Phase I Fireplace and Chimney Inspection, it may be offered in conjunction with a complete commercial or residential property inspection, or as a separate, stand-alone inspection service.
17.7  Inspection Frequency
The inspector should advise his/her client that all fireplaces and chimneys should be inspected prior to the client’s first use, and not less than annually.
17.8  Visual Inspection
17.8.1  Initial Inspection
17.8.1.1  The inspector should inspect for solid fuel-burning appliances or fireplaces improperly located where gasoline or other flammable vapors or gases are present.
17.8.1.2  The inspector should inspect for unused openings in chimneys and flues.
17.8.1.3  The inspector should inspect for lack of a smoke detector.  A smoke detector should be installed in the same room as the fireplace.
17.8.1.4  The inspector should inspect for lack of a carbon-monoxide detector.  A carbon-monoxide detector should be installed in the same room as the fireplace.
17.8.2  Fireplaces
17.8.2.1  The inspector should inspect for combustible lintels above fireplace openings.
17.8.2.2  The inspector should inspect for combustible material within 6 inches above fireplace openings that projects out 1½ inches or less from the face of the fireplace.
17.8.2.3  The inspector should inspect for combustible material within 12 inches above fireplace openings that projects out more than 1½ inches from the face of the fireplace.
17.8.2.4  The inspector should inspect for throats or dampers located less than 8 inches above fireplace openings.
17.8.2.5  The inspector should inspect for manually operated dampers that do not operate or close properly.
17.8.2.6  The inspector should inspect for dampers and damper components that have rust or corrosion.
17.8.3  Hearths, Hearth Extensions and Fire Chambers
17.8.3.1  The inspector should inspect for hearth extensions that have a thickness of less than 2 inches.
17.8.3.2  The inspector should inspect for hearth extensions that are less than 16 inches in front of or less than 8 inches beyond each side of fireplace openings (6 square feet or less).
17.8.3.3  The inspector should inspect for hearth extensions that are less than 20 inches in front of or less than 12 inches beyond each side of fireplace openings (greater than 6 square feet).
17.8.3.4  The inspector should inspect the hearth, hearth extension and chambers for joint separation, damage or deterioration.
17.8.4  Single-Wall Metal Chimneys
17.8.4.1  Initial Single-Wall Metal Chimney Inspection
17.8.4.1.1  The inspector should inspect for single-wall metal chimneys in one- and two-family dwellings.  Single-wall metal chimneys should not be used in one- and two-family dwellings.
17.8.4.1.2  The inspector should inspect for wall protectors (heat shields) with less than 1-inch air gaps.
17.8.4.2  Interior Single-Wall Metal Chimneys
17.8.4.2.1  The inspector should inspect for exposed interior single-wall metal chimneys that are not continuously enclosed where they extend through closets, storage areas, or habitable spaces, or where the surface of a chimney could come into contact with people or combustible materials.
17.8.4.2.2  The inspector should inspect for interior single-wall metal chimneys for distances less than 18 inches from wood frame walls or combustible materials.
17.8.4.2.3  The inspector should inspect for interior single-wall metal chimneys 18 inches or under in diameter that are less than 2 inches from non-combustible walls.
17.8.4.2.4  The inspector should inspect for interior single-wall metal chimneys over 18 inches in diameter that are less than 4 inches from non-combustible walls.
17.8.4.3  Exterior Single-Wall Metal Chimneys
17.8.4.3.1  The inspector should inspect for distances between exterior-mounted, single-wall metal chimneys that are less than 2 feet from doors, windows or walkways.
17.8.4.3.2  The inspector should inspect for distances between exterior-mounted, single-wall metal chimneys that are less than 18 inches from wood-frame walls or combustible materials.
17.8.4.3.3  The inspector should inspect for distances between exterior-mounted, single-wall metal chimneys 18 inches or under in diameter that are less than 2 inches from non-combustible walls.
17.8.4.3.4  The inspector should inspect for distances between exterior-mounted, single-wall metal chimneys over 18 inches in diameter that are less than 4 inches from non-combustible walls.
17.8.5  Chimney Outlets
17.8.5.1  The inspector should inspect for missing ventilating thimbles where chimneys pass through combustible roofs.
17.8.5.2  The inspector should inspect for chimneys that terminate less than 3 feet above the highest point where they pass through the roof surface.
17.8.5.3  The inspector should inspect for chimneys that terminate less than 2 feet above any portion of a building (ridge, wall or parapet) within 10 feet.
17.8.5.4  The inspector should inspect for chimneys that terminate less than 3 feet from adjacent buildings or building openings.
17.8.5.5  The inspector should inspect for chimneys that terminate less than 10 feet above grade or walkways.
17.8.5.6  The inspector should inspect for chimney outlets that jeopardize people, overheat combustible structures, or that might cause flue gases to enter nearby building openings.
17.8.5.7  The inspector should inspect the crowns of masonry chimneys for slopes that direct water into flues.
17.8.6  Flues and Liners
17.8.6.1  The inspector should inspect for galvanized flues and connectors.  Flues and connectors should not be galvanized.
17.8.6.2  The inspector should inspect readily accessible and visible flues for rust or corrosion.
17.8.6.3  The inspector should inspect for masonry chimneys that are not lined.  All masonry chimneys should be lined.
17.8.6.4  The inspector should inspect for linings that don’t extend the entire length of the chimney to a level of 2 inches or more above the crown, splay or wash.
17.8.6.5  The inspector should inspect for liners that are visibly softened, cracked, deteriorated or damaged.
17.8.6.6  The inspector should inspect readily accessible and visible flues and liners for excessive accumulation of creosote, soot, or other combustible material.
17.8.6.7  The inspector should inspect for flues that have two or more openings at the same level.
17.8.6.8  The inspector should inspect for venting into the space around and between liners.  The remaining space surrounding a chimney liner should not be used as a vent.
17.8.7  Flue Size
The inspector should inspect the size of the flue, if visible, and compare it to the size of the fireplace opening. This relationship is the most important factor in achieving sufficient draft.  A flue that is too small relative to the fireplace opening will be unable to lift and remove hazardous flue gases to the outside.

 

Table 8.7.1  Maximum Fireplace Opening for Round Flues
Round Flues
Maximum Fireplace Opening
4 inches in diameter
150 square inches
5 inches in diameter
235 square inches
6 inches in diameter
339 square inches
7 inches in diameter
461 square inches
8 inches in diameter
603 square inches
9 inches in diameter
763 square inches
10 inches in diameter
942 square inches
11 inches in diameter
1,140 square inches
12 inches in diameter
1,357 square inches
13 inches in diameter
1,592 square inches
14 inches in diameter
1,847 square inches
15 inches in diameter
2,120 square inches
16 inches in diameter
2,412 square inches
17 inches in diameter
2,723 square inches
18 inches in diameter
3,053 square inches
19 inches in diameter
3,402 square inches
20 inches in diameter
3,769 square inches
21 inches in diameter
4,156 square inches
22 inches in diameter
4,561 square inches
23 inches in diameter
4,985 square inches
24 inches in diameter
5,428 square inches
25 inches in diameter
5,890 square inches
26 inches in diameter
6,371 square inches
27 inches in diameter
6,870 square inches
28 inches in diameter
7,389 square inches
29 inches in diameter
7,926 square inches
30 inches in diameter
8,482 square inches

 

Table 7.8.7.2  Maximum Fireplace Opening, in Square Inches, for Rectangular Flues
Find the maximum size of the fireplace opening by matching the flue dimensions to the left column and top row of chart.
6″
7″
8″
9″
10″
11″
12″
13″
14″
15″
16″
17″
18″
19″
20″
21″
22″
23″
24″
25″
26″
27″
28″
4″
240
280
256
288
320
352
384
416
448
 480
512
544
576
608
640
672
704
736
768
800
832
 864
896
5″
300
350
400
450
400
440
480
520
560
600
640
680
720
760
800
840
880
920
960
1000
1040
1080
1120
6″
360
420
480
540
600
660
576
624
672
720
768
816
864
912
960
1008
1056
1104
1152
1200
1248
1296
1344
7″
420
490
560
630
700
770
840
910
784
840
896
952
1008
1064
1120
1176
1232
1288
1344
1400
 1456
 1512
1568
8″
480
560
640
720
800
880
960
1040
1120
1200
1024
1088
1152
1216
1280
1344
1408
1472
1536
1600
1664
1728
1792
9″
540
630
720
810
900
990
1080
1170
1260
1350
1440
1530
1296
1368
1440
1512
1584
1656
1728
1800
1872
1944
2016
10″
600
700
 800
900
1000
1100
1200
1300
1400
1500
1600
1700
1700
1900
1600
1680
1760
1840
1920
2000
2080
2160
2240
11″
660
770
880
990
1100
1210
1320
1430
1540
1650
1760
1870
1980
2090
2200
2310
1936
2024
2112
2200
2288
2376
2464
12″
576
840
960
1080
1200
1320
1440
1560
1680
1800
1920
2040
2160
2280
2400
2520
2640
2760
2304
2400
2496
2592
2688
13″
624
910
1040
1170
1300
1430
1560
1690
1820
1950
2080
2210
2340
2470
2600
2730
2860
2990
3120
3250
2704
2808
2912
14″
672
784
1120
1260
1400
1540
1680
1820
1960
2100
2240
2380
2520
2660
2800
2940
3080
3220
3360
3500
3640
3780
3136
15″
720
840
1200
1350
1500
1650
1800
1950
2100
2250
2400
2550
2700
2850
3000
3150
3300
3450
3600
3750
3900
4050
4200
16″
768
896
1024
1440
1600
1760
1920
2080
2240
2400
2560
2720
2880
3040
3200
3360
3520
3680
3840
4000
4160
4320
4480
17″
816
952
1088
1530
1700
1870
2040
2210
2380
2550
2720
2890
3060
3230
3400
3570
3740
3910
4080
4250
4420
4590
4760
18″
864
1008
1152
1296
1800
1980
2160
2340
2520
2700
2880
3060
3240
3420
3600
3780
3960
4140
4320
4500
4680
4860
5040
19″
912
1064
1216
1368
1900
2090
2280
2470
2660
2850
3040
3230
3420
3610
3800
3990
4180
4370
4560
4750
4940
5130
5320
20″
960
1120
1280
1440
1600
2200
2400
2600
2800
3000
3200
3400
3600
3800
4000
4200
4400
4600
4800
5000
5200
5400
5600
21″
1008
1176
1344
1512
1680
2310
2520
2730
2940
3150
3360
3570
3780
3990
4200
4410
4620
4830
5040
5250
5460
5670
5880
22″
1056
1232
1408
1584
1760
1936
2640
2860
3080
3300
3520
3740
3960
4180
4400
4620
4840
5060
5280
5500
5720
5940
6160
23″
1104
1288
1472
1656
1840
2024
2760
2990
3220
3450
3680
3910
4140
4370
4600
4830
5060
5290
5520
5750
5980
6210
6440
24″
1152
1344
1536
1728
1920
2112
2304
3120
3360
3600
3840
4080
4320
4560
4800
5040
5280
5520
5760
6000
6240
6480
6720
25″
1200
1400
1600
1800
2000
2200
2400
3250
3500
3750
4000
4250
4500
4750
5000
5250
5500
5750
6000
6250
6500
6750
7000
26″
1248
1456
1664
2080
2288
2496
2496
2704
3640
3900
4160
4420
4680
4940
5200
5460
5720
5980
6240
6500
6760
7020
7280
27″
1296
1512
1728
1944
2160
2376
2592
2808
3780
4050
4320
4590
4860
5130
5400
5670
5940
6210
6480
6750
7020
7290
7560
28″
1344
1568
1792
2016
2240
2464
2688
2912
3136
4200
4480
4760
5040
5320
5600
5880
6160
6440
6720
7000
7280
7560
7840
29″
1392
1624
1856
2088
2320
2552
2784
3016
3248
4350
4640
4930
5220
5510
5800
6090
6380
6670
6960
7250
7540
7830
8120
30″
1440
1680
1920
2160
2400
2640
2880
3120
3360
3600
4800
5100
5400
5700
6000
6300
6600
6900
7200
7500
7800
8100
8400

 

17.8.8  Connectors (Solid Wood-Burning Appliance to Chimney)
17.8.8.1  The inspector should inspect for connectors from solid fuel-burning appliances that have a rise to the chimney of less than ¼-inch per foot.
17.8.8.2  The inspector should inspect for connectors that are not as short or straight as practicable.
17.8.8.3  The inspector should inspect for connectors that are covered with insulation.
17.8.8.4  The inspector should inspect for connectors of natural-draft appliances connected to the positive pressure-side of a mechanical draft system.
17.8.8.5  The inspector should inspect for larger connectors entering a flue above smaller connectors.
17.8.9  Cleanouts
17.8.9.1  The inspector should inspect cleanouts for doors and frames that are not made of metal, pre-cast cement, or other non-combustible material.
17.8.9.2  The inspector should inspect combustible materials projecting beyond the faces of chimneys that are within 18 inches of cleanout openings.
17.8.9.3  The inspector should inspect for combustible materials stored within 18 inches of cleanout doors.
17.8.9.4  The inspector should inspect cleanout doors that are obstructed or do not close tightly.
17.8.9.5  The inspector should inspect the interior cleanout’s lower edge for heights above the lowest accessible floor level that are less than 16 inches.
17.8.9.6  The inspector should inspect the exterior cleanout’s lower edge for heights above grade that are less than 16 inches.
17.8.9.7  The inspector should inspect the bases of chimney flues for distances that are not between 6 and 12 inches below the bottom edges of their cleanout openings.
17.9  Sample Reporting Language (click below to download a Word Doc)