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Chimney Inspections in Knoxville – The Most Important Chimney Maintenance Service

Thousands of chimney fires still occur every year here in the U.S. In fact, it is estimated that over 25,000 chimney fires take place annually, causing extensive property damage, posing serious safety risks, and often resulting in tragic consequences for homeowners and their families.

Thankfully, organizations like the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) are making efforts to reduce those alarming numbers. At Ashbusters Chimney Service, we’re committed to being part of the solution, too, by providing our neighbors in Knoxville, TN and the surrounding areas with thorough and reliable level 1, 2, and 3 chimney inspections.

Chimney inspections are not just a recommended practice – they are the only effective solution in reducing your risk of experiencing a chimney fire. For this reason, it is important to protect your investment by contacting a trusted and certified chimney service like Ashbusters Chimney Service to schedule regular inspections and maintenance for your peace of mind. Give us a call today at 865-503-5498 or book directly on our website.

What Are Level 1, 2 & 3 Chimney Inspections & How Are They Helpful?

The truth is, there’s so much that goes into keeping your chimney, fireplace, fireplace insert, or stove working safely and efficiently – and there’s so much that can go wrong that’s out of sight. That’s the reason chimney inspections are so important. 

There are three different levels, and each is designed for different situations and needs. Here’s a quick breakdown:

Level 1 

Schedule a level 1 chimney inspection if you:

  • Haven’t made any changes to your heating appliance or your venting system and you don’t plan to
  • Have kept up with annual maintenance and just need to have everything looked over

These inspections are relatively simple and just include a look at readily accessible portions of the appliance, the chimney connection, and the basic structure. No special tools are needed. 

Level 2

Schedule a level 2 chimney inspection if you:

  • Have just moved in or are selling your home
  • Are changing your heating appliance or venting system in some way (i.e. relining the flue, replacing the appliance, etc.)
  • Have had recent problems with your heating appliance or chimney
  • Have experienced a weather event that could have caused damage

These inspections include a look at readily accessible portions of the appliance, the chimney connection, and the basic structure, and they also include a video scan of the chimney flue.

Level 3

Schedule a level 3 chimney inspection if you:

  • Have a hazard or issue that cannot be identified with a level 1 or level 2 inspection
  • Have experienced a catastrophic event like a chimney fire, earthquake, or structural damage to your home
  • Are considering major renovations or demolition and need to ensure the chimney’s structural integrity

These inspections can include the removal of some portions of the chimney or nearby areas of the building structure, and may require special tools.

What’s the Best Time of Year to Schedule a Chimney Inspection?

It should come as no surprise that the busy season in the chimney and fireplace industry is right when the warm summer air gives way to the cool, crispness of autumn. As homeowners prepare to cozy up by their fireplaces, the demand for chimney inspections, cleanings, and repairs tends to spike.

So, although one might argue that anytime is a great time to prioritize the safety of your chimney, taking action before the fall and scheduling your chimney services early ensures you can beat the rush and get an appointment time that works more ideally with your schedule.

Here at Ashbusters Chimney Service of Knoxville, we believe the sooner the better. Try to schedule your appointments in late spring or early summer so you can secure a convenient time slot, and have ample time for any necessary repairs before the winter chill sets in. Your safety and peace of mind are our top priorities!

My Chimney’s New… Do I Really Need To Schedule an Inspection Yearly?

If you have a new chimney, you’re probably thinking everything is good to go and you’ve got nothing to worry about. Same goes for those who only use their fireplaces on rare occasions. 

Unfortunately, that’s not always true. We’ve seen brand new homes burn to the ground because the chimney was improperly built and didn’t have proper clearance to combustibles. In other words, combustible materials in walls and ceilings surrounding the chimney and fireplace were placed too close to the chimney or the chimney system wasn’t properly insulated.

The same goes for chimneys that catch on fire after an undiagnosed issue with creosote buildup – both instances go to prove that regular inspections and maintenance are important regardless of how new or infrequently your fireplace is used.  

Regardless of the circumstances, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 211 standard makes no exceptions — all chimneys and venting systems should be inspected every single year, without fail.

What Are the Most Common Causes of Chimney Fires?

A chimney fire could happen to anybody! That said, taking the necessary steps to maintain your chimney with regular inspections, proper cleaning, and responsible burning practices greatly reduces your risk of experiencing one. 

Why? Because even though creosote buildup is the number one cause of chimney fires, yearly inspections help catch and address other serious problems within your fireplace and chimney that could potentially lead to catastrophic fires, including:

  • Buildup of Ash, Soot & Creosote: These are all naturally occurring byproducts of burning wood in your fireplace or stove – and they’re all flammable. While a certain amount is inevitable, removing these deposits with regular chimney cleanings is recommended.
  • Cracked or Damaged Flue Liners: The flue liner lines the interior of your chimney. Because it is hard to see, you might not even know that cracks in the flue liner are present, increasing the likelihood of heat and sparks escaping into the surrounding structure of your home. You better bet the framing, insulation, and drywall around your chimney will quickly catch fire too.
  • Blockages: Blockages within the chimney, such as bird nests, leaves, or other debris, can obstruct the free flow of air. This causes smoke and heat to find another exit, which is typically back into your home.
  • Faulty or Missing Chimney Caps: Chimney caps aren’t only responsible for keeping out rain, snow, and animals – they also keep other debris from falling into your chimney, such as leaves, branches, twigs, and even airborne trash.
  • Cracked Masonry: Cracks or damage to the chimney’s structure can allow heat and sparks to escape and ignite nearby materials.
  • Damaged Spark Arrestor: The spark arrestor is the cage-like structure that fits securely on the top of your chimney. It helps contain things like spark, embers, and hot ash, so they don’t land on your chimney or ignite other nearby combustible materials.
  • Inadequate Clearances: Chimneys and stoves should have proper clearances from things like walls, ceilings, and nearby furniture. A certified chimney technician will be able to recommend adjustments to ensure safe distances are maintained.

Do Chimney Inspectors Check for Animal Nests & Pests?

Who would’ve thought, while you’re busy making your home warm and cozy, some animal out there is looking to make your chimney their warm and cozy home! It’s true – and it happens more often than you might think. Animals like birds, squirrels, raccoons, and even insects seek refuge in chimneys because of the warm and dark environment.

On top of creating blockages and other fire hazards if left unchecked, their presence can lead to a host of problems for your fireplace and home, including:

  • Chimney Damage: All of that scurrying, nesting, and gnawing by animals within your chimney can cause physical damage to the chimney structure, liner, or other components.
  • Odors: Let’s face it – all animals stink. Combine stinky animals with their droppings, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster when it comes to unpleasant odors. This not only affects the indoor air quality of your living space, but it also creates an unwelcome environment for you and your family.
  • Pest Infestations: Some pests come with the added concern of fleas, ticks, or parasites being introduced into your home. If it’s bad enough, these infestations can require additional measures and expenses to eradicate the issue.
  • Health Concerns: Animals and their droppings can carry different diseases and allergens that pose health risks to anyone in your home.
  • Noise and Disturbance: A comfy, cozy fire can quickly turn from pleasure to nuisance when animals intrude. Not only does this prevent you from using your fireplace, but it also subjects you to the noise and disruptions they cause.

What To Do if an Animal Is in Your Chimney?

You wouldn’t believe the amount of times we have been called out to inspect a draft or airflow issue within the chimney and have discovered the real problem has been because of animals and their nests.

So what do we do when a problem like this occurs? Our process looks something like this:


It’s no coincidence that every service begins with an inspection. That’s because we want an in-depth look to better identify the source of the problem. Since we aren’t sure what type of animal may be inhabiting your chimney, a thorough inspection helps us determine the species, extent of the infestation, whether the animal is still alive or not, and develop a precise plan for safe and effective removal. 

We want to take extra safety precautions – especially if we are dealing with a potentially aggressive species, like wasps.

Legal Considerations

A chimney swift is a type of bird that sticks its nest to the side of the flue using its saliva, and because these birds are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, by law, we can’t remove them – which means we must wait for them to move out of the nest on their own before we attempt to remove their nest. 

If you are one of the unlucky homeowners who has to wait for the chimney swift to leave, we can help seal off the front of the fireplace with some kind of barrier to reduce the sounds and smells that can come into your home.

Humane Removal

To safely remove the animals, a one-way door may be temporarily installed on the top of the chimney. This allows the animal to leave on its own, but prevents it from re-entering. That said, this can only be used for animals that don’t have young that may need feeding. For example, letting a mother chimney swift leave, then blocking her return would violate the treaty act mentioned above.

Under no circumstances (other than wasps, which we will explain next) should you consider smoking out the animal, as this more often than not leads to dead animals in your chimney – and that causes different issues, including unpleasant odors and the possibility of infestations by pests attracted to the carcass.

Nest Removal

When we have determined the animals have been safely removed, we will then clear your chimney of all nesting materials and debris. This is not only important to ensure animals don’t have a cozy place to come back to, but also to reduce the risk of fire hazards when you resume using your fireplace.

If you have an active wasp nest in your fireplace, smoking them out actually works better than sprays and pesticides. Once the wasps have been eradicated, make sure the nest is removed as soon as possible. Because nests are a thin, paper-like material, it acts as the perfect fuel for any sparks that exit the chimney. 

Preventive Measures

To prevent future problems with pesky animals, we will install a properly-fitted chimney cap. This protective barrier keeps all unwanted visitors out of your chimney, along with rainwater and debris, while still allowing proper airflow.

Regular Maintenance

As you’ve probably guessed, the best way to prevent these issues from arising again is to schedule regular chimney inspections and maintenance with a certified chimney technician. These proactive measures help you avoid recurring animal infestations, and they help identify other potential problems early, too, so you can avoid costly repairs in the future.

Let Ashbusters Chimney Service of Knoxville help you enjoy your fireplace worry-free.

Schedule Your Inspection With a CSIA-Certified Technician You Can Trust

If you haven’t had your chimney system inspected this year, please don’t wait to book with us. Call Ashbusters Chimney Service of Knoxville today at 865-503-5498 to schedule your chimney inspection with a CSIA-certified chimney professional you can trust. We’re licensed, insured, and here to help make sure our neighbors in Knoxville and the surrounding areas get the reliable and thorough chimney care they deserve.


A thorough chimney inspection may reveal the need for certain chimney repairs. If so, no worries! We’re experts with every chimney and dryer  service and we can take care of you.