Levels of Chimney Inspections
Everyone that has a wood-burning fireplace knows how wonderful they can be in the cooler fall and winter months but your first actions regarding your fireplace should take place long before you build your first fire of the season. A regular chimney inspection should be performed every year to ensure that your chimney is safe and ready to use. Just as all chimneys are not created equal so to can be said about chimney inspections. In fact there are 3 levels of chimney inspection and all have different qualifications on when they should be performed.
The first and most common type of inspection is a Level 1 inspection. This is the type of inspection that should be performed annually to ensure the safety of your fireplace and chimney. This involves basic examination of all accessible chimney components. This includes both exterior and interior components. While some tools may be required to remove coverings or doors to gain access to certain parts of the chimney there is no work done on the actual structural integrity of the masonry unless obvious flaws are visible prompting your chimney sweep to perform a level 2 chimney inspection.
Level 2 chimney inspections are performed when changes are made to the system or some sort of seismic or weather event may have cause damage to the foundation and structure of the chimney and flue itself. It is also recommended that a level 2 inspection be performed if you have moved into a place with a fireplace. The types of changes that can facilitate the performance of a level 2 inspection include changes in the type of fuel being burned in the fireplace as well as changes to the flue or lining (whether it be materials, positioning, etc.). Level 2 inspections usually involve the use of a video scanning system to inspect the entirety of the interior sections of the flue and chimney. It will also include inspection of the exterior portions of the chimney accessible through the attic and/or crawlspaces. If this turns up additional structural issues a level 3 chimney inspection will be performed.
Level 3 chimney inspections involve an extensive inspection of the entirety of the chimney and flue systems. Removal of part of the chimney structure may be required to properly assess the safety and functionality of the fireplace and chimney and will determine the steps necessary to bring the chimney into compliance with safety codes. This type of inspection is used if some serious hazard exists.
Always remember the old adage “It is always better to be safe than sorry”. Have you chimney inspected regularly to make sure that your system is safe and ready to use and avoid a problem that can cost more than just money.