If you’re new to chimney ownership, it might surprise you when you learn not only that you need to be scheduling a professional chimney inspection each and every year, but that there are several different types of chimney inspections too.
Those different inspections are outlined as three different levels — 1, 2 and 3 — and Weststar Chimney Sweeps technicians are always happy to give you a rundown of when and why different inspections make sense for your system and your home. In the meantime, though, here are some basics to make those levels a little more clear:
Where Did These Levels Of Inspection Come From?
For a long time, the quality or thoroughness of your chimney inspection was largely left up to the individual professional doing the inspecting. While diligent, detailed chimney sweeps (like Weststar’s) have always been around, you generally just didn’t know what you’d get — a detailed peek into the state of your system, a quick glance with a flashlight and a mirror, or anything in between.
In January of 2000, the National Fire Protection Association outlined three different levels of inspection within NFPA 211, the standard by which our work — and the work of other CSIA-certified chimney technicians — is guided. This ensures that you receive a specific level of care, based on your chimney’s circumstances and needs, and that you know what to expect.
So What Should I Expect?
The Level of inspection that Weststar Chimney Sweeps technicians will recommend will be based on your specific system’s needs.
If your system hasn’t changed — if you’re burning the same fuel in the same appliance with the same flue liner, etc. — you’ll do well with a Level 1 inspection, the least intricate (but still highly detailed) inspection. We’ll examine all of the readily accessible parts of your chimney, from the firebox up through the flue, interior to exterior, looking for structural soundness, performance issues (like obstructions or excess creosote) and damage (like flue liner cracks that could lead to a leak). After our inspection, we’ll share our detailed findings with you, and make any necessary recommendations.
A more detailed Level 2 inspection makes the most sense in a couple of specific circumstances: when something in your system has changed, or if the property is changing hands. So if you’ve changed from wood to gas, added a new fireplace or insert, relined your flue or made other similar changes since your last inspection, Level 2 is appropriate. If you’re buying a home with a fireplace, a Level 2 inspection allows you to get the full picture of what’s about to become your responsibility — and potentially, your problem.
Level 2 inspections include that same thorough, top to bottom, in and out examination as Level 1, but we’ll also check your chimney in attics, basements and crawl spaces, look for proper clearance from combustible building materials and scan the flue using a specialized video camera that lets us get the closest look possible, and show our findings to you.
A Level 3 inspection is really only recommended when a potential hazard is found and a closer look is needed — and that closer look can include removing building materials (like doors or drywall) that block off certain concealed areas. With these inspections, we’re leaving no stone unturned so we can be sure we’re aware of any dangerous or damaging problems that need to be addressed.
We’re always happy to talk chimneys — including inspections and other regular maintenance — with our valued clients. If you have questions, or would like to schedule your annual inspection, give Weststar Chimney Sweeps a call!