One of the most essential texts to chimney sweeps, the National Fire Protection Association’s Code NFPA 211: the Standard for Chimneys, Fireplaces, Vents, and Solid Fuel Burning Appliances sets guidelines for professionals to follow when working in the chimney industry. Among the topics covered in the NFPA 211? Recommended practices for the installation, maintenance, and repair services for chimneys, fireplaces, and other hearth heating appliances. This text also includes the three levels of chimney inspection. These were developed by the NFPA to standardize the inspection process for chimney technicians across the country. When inspecting chimneys, Ashbusters strictly follows these levels. Our chimney sweeps are very familiar with what these three levels mean. Therefore, you can trust us to properly determine which level of inspection is needed for your chimney. We would like to explain to you what each level means to help you better understand the chimney inspection process.
The most basic level of chimney inspection. A Level 1 is included with our annual chimney sweeping service if you have not made any changes to your fireplace since your last inspection. Included in this minimum level of inspection? An examination of the readily accessible parts of the interior and exterior of your chimney and the accessible parts of the appliance and its connection to the chimney. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), readily accessible means not having to use any tools to open any doors, panels, or coverings. Accessible means that tools may be used to remove doors, panels, or coverings without damaging the chimney or house. Ashbusters will also make sure that the chimney structure is sound and stable. In addition to checking that there are no blockages or combustible deposits within the flue.
Have you updated your fireplace to a new appliance or made any other changes to the system? If so, you will need a Level 2 chimney inspection. This level is also required when you are buying or selling a home or have experienced an operational problem or external event (this includes chimney fires, earthquakes, and lightning strikes) that damaged the chimney. This is more in depth than a Level 1. A Level 2 inspection adds an examination of the accessible parts of the chimney’s interior and exterior. This includes attics, basements, and crawl spaces. Also, a video recording of the inspection to everything covered in a Level 1 inspection.
If, during a Level 1 or 2 inspection, Ashbusters suspects there may be a hidden hazard that may be a safety hazard, we will recommend a Level 3 inspection to be able to properly diagnose the problem. In this level of inspection, we may need to remove certain components of your chimney system. Components such as the chimney crown or interior chimney wall, to be able to get to the location of the issue. A Level 3 chimney inspection may require the destruction of parts of your chimney. So, it is only recommended when we have strong evidence that a serious hazard is present.
To be sure your chimney is working efficiently and safely, you should have your chimney professionally inspected at least once a year. Contact us today at Ashbusters to schedule an appointment for your annual chimney inspection. You can trust us to perform the appropriate level for your chimney!