How to inspect your woodstove or fireplace


Inspecting your wood heating system before burning season is smart. A thorough inspection identifies system maintenance needs and allows time to fix problems before winter weather hits.

A properly inspected and maintained system ensures safe and efficient home heat through the cold weather months. The average homeowner can perform their own inspection and locate safety hazards with the following checklist:

Wood heating system inspection checklist


  • Look for loose or damaged bricks on chimney exterior
  • Make sure flashing (metal barrier at roof line) is intact and in-place
  • Check for cracks or leak lines on chimney crown
  • Clear chimney cap and grate (wire mesh) of debris; ensure tight fit
  • Clear path down flue through smoke chamber
  • Look for stains or leaks down flue
  • Make note of visible creosote buildup


  • Check for damage to floor and wall protection
  • Note rust damage
  • Look for smoke or leak stains
  • Check gaskets and gasket rope on doors; ensure tight fit
  • Inspect door and window seals
  • Check that glass window is crack-free; clean soot
  • Dump ash drawer; replace empty
  • Check fireplace screen for holes
  • Make sure damper (interior door into chimney throat) is clear of debris
  • Open damper for good oxygen flow
  • Clean dust off woodstove blower; ensure operable
  • Replace filters
  • Replace batteries in carbon dioxide and smoke detectors
  • Make sure fire extinguishers are current and easy to access

Hiring a certified professional service provider

Experts recommend an annual cleaning in addition to fixing any maintenance issues revealed during inspection. If you do not feel comfortable performing your own wood heating system cleaning or maintenance, a certified professional can assist you.

Locate a certified professional service provider online at National Fireplace Institute , Chimney Safety Institute of America or the National Chimney Sweep Guild



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  1. Thank you for sharing these useful tips on how to identify a broken wood heater. I noticed that it takes a longer time for my wood heater to heat up, even after I add in the wood and lubricants. I think I will call a professional to have it inspected and repaired.


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