Why You Should Schedule a Chimney Inspection

Chimneys suffer from the same wear and tear as other parts of your home, and over time they can deteriorate. This can lead to creosote accumulation and structural problems.Chimney Inspection

A chimney inspection can help identify and prevent these issues before they become dangerous. Chimney will evaluate your chimney’s condition and determine which level of inspection you need.

A level 1 inspection is what homeowners typically have done. It includes a basic cleaning of the chimney and an examination of accessible parts of the chimney. In addition, a professional will use special equipment to check deep inside your chimney, looking for any problems that are not visible with the naked eye.

Your chimney sweep will also test for the presence of flammable byproducts of combustion and verify that your flue is clear of obstructions. This is not a complete inspection, however, and if your chimney has recently suffered damage, a Level 2 inspection is needed.

During a Level 1 inspection, your chimney sweep will set up a tarp where they will be working to prevent tracking soot through your living space. Before the technician arrives, you should prepare your home by moving pictures, knick-knacks, fireplace tools, logs, and other debris away from the area of your fireplace. Also, you should make sure the chimney is clear of ash and soot from recent usage.

The most common reason for a Level 1 inspection is that nothing has changed with your chimney or its venting system since the last time it was inspected. You may also need a level 1 inspection if you plan on selling your home and need to pass a chimney inspection before the sale can take place.

A Level 2 inspection is also required if you have made changes to your chimney and venting system. This can include a change in fuel type, a change to the shape or material of your flue (i.e., relining), the replacement or addition of an appliance with a distinct type, input rating, or efficiency level, and more. During a Level 2 inspection, the chimney sweep will examine all the accessible portions of your fireplace, chimney, and flue. This can require the removal or destruction, as necessary, of permanently attached portions of the building structure and chimney to gain access to the hidden areas.

Level 2 Inspection

If you haven’t used your fireplace in a while, it may be caked in creosote and filled with debris. If this is the case, a chimney inspection will help identify any problems before you start using your fireplace again. Additionally, you should schedule a chimney inspection if your home has undergone any kind of major change to its fireplace or venting system. This includes when you change from one fuel source to another, after significant weather damage, or if you plan to reline your chimney.

When you decide to have a Level 2 chimney inspection, you can expect your chimney sweep to visit all accessible portions of the fireplace and chimney. This may include the attic and crawl spaces. Your chimney technician will also look at proper clearances from combustibles in accessible areas of the home.

This level of inspection also includes a visual evaluation of the crown. The crown is a concrete, stone, or metal overhang at the top of the chimney that diverts rainwater away from the chimney structure and prevents water damage. If the crown is cracked, it can allow rainwater to seep into the chimney and degrade the flue liner. Your chimney sweep will evaluate the condition of the crown during a Level 2 inspection and recommend any necessary repairs.

Regardless of whether you are considering buying or selling a home, both parties should have a valid and complete chimney inspection before the deal is finalized. This will help to ensure that there are no hidden errors or hazards that could cause complications after you move into the house. It will also give you a document that proves the chimney was properly inspected and that no repairs need to be made.

As a home seller, having a chimney inspection done before you sell your home will protect you from a buyer accusing you of omitting or concealing a problem with the chimney. It will also reduce the risk of the new buyers discovering any issues after moving in and possibly suing you for negligence. The Level 2 chimney inspection will also help you get the best price for your home and make it easier to sell.

Level 3 Inspection

Level III inspections are done by the management team, usually the quality department. They are responsible for procedures, techniques, quality manuals, audits, and the training of Level I and II personnel. They are also required to inspect hardware as needed.

This level of inspection covers all areas that are accessible to the technician without the use of specialized tools or the destruction of permanently attached components. This level also includes the readily accessible portions of the chimney exterior and interior, including attics, crawl spaces, and basements. It also addresses proper clearances from combustibles in accessible locations. The use of specialty tools is not required to open doors, panels, or coverings.

Draft issues are often the result of structural problems. However, the cause of a draft issue is not always found through an inspection. To find the root cause of a problem, a forensic investigation is typically necessary. This is often referred to as a “root cause analysis,” or RCA. Once the RCA process has been completed, countermeasures can be put in place to ensure that the same defects do not recur.

A level 2 inspection is recommended after any changes are made to the system, such as a change in fuel type, addition of an appliance of a dissimilar type, input rating, or efficiency; installation of a flue liner; and after an operation malfunction or external event such as a building fire, chimney fire, or seismic activity. Additionally, a level 2 inspection is required upon the sale or transfer of property and after a major weather event that could have caused damage to the system.

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The Chimney Safety Institute and the National Fire Protection Association both recommend yearly chimney inspections. Professional chimney sweeps can catch many problems that are not easily spotted by homeowners. They can check for dangerous creosote buildup, masonry cracks, and chimney drafts. They can also identify and repair issues that may cause carbon monoxide poisoning, chimney fires, or other structural damage to the home or fireplace.

During a Level 1 inspection, the technician examines the readily accessible portions of the chimney’s exterior, interior, and appliance and flue connections. The technician will also verify that the chimney structure is sound and free of combustible deposits.

A CSIA pro can also inspect components that promote excessive creosote buildup, such as a warped or rusty damper that does not close completely. This obstruction can prevent proper venting and lead to overheating. CSIA professionals can also look for signs of masonry deterioration. The bricks of a chimney are porous and can expand or contract with temperature changes, causing small cracks that can grow larger over time.

If the results of a Level I inspection suggest that a hidden hazard exists, a Level II inspection is recommended. This more in-depth inspection involves the use of special tools to open doors, panels, and coverings in order to evaluate concealed portions of the chimney structure and flue. During a Level II inspection, the chimney service technician should be able to access the interior surfaces and joints of all flue liners incorporated within the chimney. The scope of a Level II inspection shall also include addressing proper clearances from combustibles in accessible locations.

Chimneys are built to protect a home from the harsh chemicals and gases produced by a fire, but they can become damaged or deteriorate over time. If left unprotected, metal flue linings can rust and break down, and the chimney itself can crack or collapse.

A yearly chimney inspection is the best way to detect and address potential hazards before they worsen. Contact us to schedule a chimney inspection or cleaning. Our technicians are qualified and certified, and they will take care to protect your home from dust and debris while they work. They will also give you a detailed written report of their findings.

Carol Cluck