New England is still experiencing some warm weather worth enjoying, but winter is just around the corner. With only a few weeks before fall arrives, it’s important to make sure the fireplace and chimney system are ready for the first fire of the season. When your chimney is inspected, you can rest assured that it’s safe and efficient for burn season. A safe and efficient chimney keeps your family safe from harm and your wallet safe from costly repairs.
Avoid the Fall Rush
When you schedule your chimney inspection now, you can avoid the fall rush–the time between October and January when chimney professionals are busy with installations, repairs, and emergency calls. Waiting until fall to have your chimney serviced may be a recipe for disaster. It may mean that you can’t get a convenient appointment time, may not fit into the schedule with your desired chimney sweep company or technician, and tempt you to light a fire in a fireplace that is not safe or ready!
CSIA Inspections – The Standard for Excellence
CSIA inspections are the industry standard for diagnostics. Both the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommend annual chimney inspections and routine sweeps. There are three different levels of CSIA inspections, depending on how you use your fireplace.
Level One – The standard annual inspection for a chimney with no changes and no problems is the level one inspection. It includes an assessment of all readily accessible portions of the chimney system, including the interior, exterior, appliance, and chimney connection. This inspection is often included in a standard chimney sweep.
Level Two – If changes have been made to the system, including new installations or repairs, a level two inspection is necessary. They’re also required before a property is sold or transferred and if a storm, fire, or earthquake may have affected the system. This inspection includes a visual inspection by video scan to assess the interior of the chimney system, joints, and chimney components. There are no special tools required for this inspection, but it includes opening doors and panels or coverings to access portions of the chimney.
Level Three – If a hazard is identified or suspected, your chimney will require a level three inspection. This thorough inspection may include the removal of components of the building or chimney in order to access the hazard. If your chimney professional recommends a level three inspection, it must be done before winter to prevent damage and health hazards.
Schedule your chimney inspection with Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep and you can rest assured that your chimney system is ready for winter. Our technicians focus on safety first. We use a Chim-Scan camera system and Wohler Vis2000-Pro to inspect and document every detail so we can make proper assessments and recommendations. Not only do we inspect the chimneys with expertise and authority, but we sweep every chimney we inspect. Scheduling today means you will have time to also schedule recommended repairs.
Before your certified chimney sweep comes, it’s good to know the different levels of inspection and what they do in each level.
While it is accurate to say that no two chimneys are the same, it used to also be that no two chimney inspections were the same. This meant that depending on who you hired to do your inspection and subsequent sweeping, the inspection process could be entirely different, with widely varying degrees of thoroughness. Thankfully, in January of 2000, the Chimney Safety Institute of America introduced three levels of chimney inspection and adopted them into code. This means that any chimney sweep who has been certified by the C.S.I.A. (as any sweep should be if he or she is working on your chimney) will conduct one of three levels of inspection according to exacting specifications.
The 3 Levels of Chimney Inspection
The C.S.I.A. has clearly outlined three levels of chimney inspection. Depending on the condition of your chimney and the dangers that exist inside, one of the technicians at Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep will be able to assess which inspection level your chimney warrants. Each inspection utilizes a closed circuit camera to gain a comprehensive look at the flue.
Level 1: The most basic (and most common) inspection looks at all “readily accessible” portions of the inside and outside of the flue, the heating appliance, and its connections.
Level 2: The next level of inspection is recommended when any changes have been made to the heating system. A Level 2 inspection will take a more in-depth look at the chimney and appliance and will include all parts of the chimney made accessible by attics, crawl spaces, and basements.
Level 3: The most comprehensive inspection of all, a Level 3 inspection involves the removal of some components of the chimney or the building to gain full access to the chimney. This inspection is recommended when a Level 2 inspection has indicated that there’s a hidden danger inside your flue.
Read more about chimney inspections here.
Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep is able to serve a wide swath of customers, as we have locations in Eastern Massachusetts, Southern New Hampshire, and Portland, Maine. Contact us today!
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.
Hire a professionally certified chimney sweep to inspect your chimney each year.
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.