Gone are the days when a chimney inspection meant only one thing, a pass or a fail. Now, inspectors carry them out to different levels of attention to detail, with a Level 1 inspection being fairly basic; a once-over of visible parts of the chimney. This standard inspection is always performed, even when higher level inspections follow. It assumes that the chimney has shown no evidence of failure and is being used as it was before, with no changes to it. A chimney sweep will confirm that there is no blockage of the chimney, and no worrying buildup of flammable creosote.
Having confirmed the structural integrity of the chimney as part of a Level 1 inspection, a change in use requires Level 2 checks. If the flue is being relined or glass doors are being installed, a more detailed inspection is needed. A Level 2 inspection should be considered mandatory after a chimney fire or other sudden onset problems. Further, it should attend every sale or transfer of the house as part of an overall inspection.
In a Level 2 inspection, there will be a thorough check of the chimney interior as well as the attic and crawlspaces of the home. The flue will be visually scanned and checked for damage as well as deposits of soot and tar. Proper sizing of the fireplace and flue will be checked along with proper chimney height.
While inspectors do not have to remove chase covers, they are expected to do a very thorough inspection of the chimney. They will ascertain whether the chimney system as a whole is properly constructed. They will confirm sufficient clearance between the chimney and surrounding combustible materials.
In short, a Level 2 chimney inspection is important to put the homeowner’s mind at ease. Along with the dryer vents, the chimney is the place most likely to house a fire and is given fuel every time smoke rises up it. It just makes sense in certain circumstances to go beyond the basic inspection.