Inspection Services

The Importance of Chimney Inspections and Annual Chimney Cleaning

Annual Chimney Inspections

As the temperatures begin to cool, the Chimney Safety Institute of America (www.CSIA.org) issues its annual chimney inspection reminder. Both the CSIA and the National Fire Protection Association (www.NFPA.org) recommend annual chimney inspections by a qualified professional and sweeping when necessary.

According to the most recent statistics from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, an average of 25,100 chimney fires are responsible for 30 deaths and $126.1 million in property damage on average each year.

Annual chimney inspections allow the chimney sweep to note cracks, creosote buildup or other obstructions which may diminish the functionality of the system and create an environment where chimney fires or carbon monoxide intrusion are likely.

Don’t think that just because you have not used your chimney lately that it is ready to go, reminds Ashley Eldridge, CSIA’s Director of Education. Any variety of things, such as animals, can get into your chimney in the off-season.

3 Levels of Chimney Inspections

Chimney inspections are broken down into 3 levels by The National Fire Protection Association due to specific scope and criteria. They have adopted these levels of chimney inspection into code NFPA 211 and every professional chimney sweep bases their own standard of services on these same set of codes.

Level I Inspection
In a Level 1 inspection, your chimney service technician should examine the readily accessible portions of the chimney exterior, interior and accessible portions of the appliance and the chimney connection. Your technician will be looking for the basic soundness of the chimney structure and flue as well as the basic appliance installation and connections. The technician will also verify the chimney is free of obstruction and combustible deposits.

Level II Inspection
The addition of a new home heating appliance or a change in the type of fuel a homeowner is burning requires a Level II inspection. This inspection level is also required upon the sale or transfer of a property or after an operating malfunction or external event that is likely to have caused damage to the chimney. The scope of a Level II inspection includes that of the Level I inspection plus the inspection of accessible portions of the attics, crawl spaces and basements. It may also include a performance test such as a smoke test or a pressure test and possibly an interior chimney video inspection if recommended by the certified chimney sweep.

Level III Inspection
When a Level I or Level II inspection suggests a hidden hazard and the evaluation cannot be performed without access to concealed areas, a Level III inspection is recommended. This type of inspection confirms the proper construction and condition of concealed portions of the chimney structure and the flue. Level III inspections are generally necessary when investigating an incident that has caused damage to a chimney or building, or where a hazard is detected and suspected.

Both the Chimney Safety Institute of America and the National Fire Protection Association recommend yearly chimney inspections to help prevent fire and carbon monoxide poisonings.

* Readily Accessible: Exposed, or capable of being exposed, for operation, inspection, maintenance or repair without the use of tools to open or remove doors, panels or coverings.
** Accessible: May require the use of commonly available tools to remove doors, panels or coverings, but will not damage the chimney or building structure or finish.