Short answer: It depends on who “inspects” your chimney and what inspection standard they use AND which inspection is right for your situation. It’s probably a good idea to ask when you are making your appointment. Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps|Bless Your Hearth follows the standards outlined by the National Fire Protection Association for chimney inspections. We are happy to provide an explanation here that may help with understanding the purpose for each level of inspection and how it may benefit you.
Level I Inspection – Annual Maintenance Check
If nothing has changed about the way you are using your fireplace, stove or chimney, this is the inspection for you. During this level of inspection (usually considered an annual maintenance check-up), assuming there are no prior incidents or chimney problems, professionals make an examination of the chimney exterior, interior, Technician will be looking for the basic soundness of the chimney itself as well as the flue and it’s lining. If applicable, the inspection examines simple appliance connectors and installations. The chimney professional makes sure that the flue is free of blockages and checks for combustible materials inside the flue as well as anything combustible that is too close to or in contact with the chimney. Technician will normally be able to determine if flue is properly sized for fireplace or attached appliance. Only the most basic tools are used for this operation. Technician is looking for issues related to usability, performance and maintenance.
Level II Inspection – Includes Attic, Crawl space/basement, Roof and Video Scan
During this level of inspection, everything done in a Level 1 inspection is included, plus the accessible portions of the chimney exterior and interior including attics, crawl spaces and basements. It will address proper clearances from combustibles in accessible locations. Ladders and other specialized equipment will definitely be used. This inspection is needed
- when there are changes made in the heating systems.
- if flue lining materials are changed
- if fuel is changed (i.e. wood to gas; gas to wood)
- if new appliances installed (gas logs, gas heater, wood stove/insert)
- if you experience building or chimney malfunction.
- building fire
- chimney fire
- smoke back issues
- if you experience natural calamities
- lightning strike
- tornado strike
- tree fell
- when a house changes ownership.
Level III Inspection – Exploratory surgery
When a Level 1 or Level 2 inspection indicates a hidden hazard and the evaluation cannot be completed without the use of special tools to access and assess concealed areas of the chimney or flue, a Level 3 inspection is usually recommended. Expect that if this type of inspection is required, there have been highly questionable issues noted during the Level 1 and Level 2 inspections. The damage might be more serious than expected or more questions were raised than answered during the initial inspection process. Special tools may now be needed to gain access to hidden areas to view the chimney’s internal construction. It may even be suggested to remove some parts of the chimney (i.e. crown wash, chase cover, interior wall, etc.) to be able to accurately determine the condition of the chimney system.
Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps|Bless Your Hearth can provide excellent service to insure preserving the wellness of your chimney. Our chimney sweep inspection services are just one of many useful services we provide. We have been serving SC’s Upstate Area for nearly 37 years now. It is our sincere pleasure to continue to help you keep fire in its place in your home.