If you own a fireplace, one important maintenance responsibility is scheduling a professional chimney inspection at least once every year. Because of this, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has established three levels of chimney inspections, so chimney sweeps have clear and thorough guidelines to follow.
And for over 30 years, Ashbusters has been performing all three levels of chimney inspections. Our professional technicians have been trained and certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) to follow NFPA standards, guaranteeing you the highest level of care possible. If you need chimney services, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team of experts!
The Three Levels of Inspections
Now, we’ve mentioned that there are three levels of inspections, but what does each entail? And how do you know which is right for you? Well, each level involves different tools and equipment, and your professional chimney sweep can guide you in choosing which is most appropriate for your needs. In the meantime, here’s a summary of each:
Level 1 Inspections: A level 1 inspection is most widely recommended for homeowners that regularly have their chimneys examined. If you have not made any changes to your chimney and fireplace system in the last year, and you always invest in yearly maintenance, then a level 1 inspection should be all you need.
Ashbusters includes this basic inspection with our chimney sweeping service, and we will check all of the readily accessible parts of the interior and exterior of your chimney (meaning we don’t have to use any tools to open any doors, panels, or coverings), as well, to see if anything is blocking the flue. We’ll also be able to note if any bricks or mortar joints have suffered damage, and we’ll make sure that the chimney structure is sound and stable, too.
Finally, clearances surrounding the appliance and any parts such as glass doors and gaskets will be inspected to check if any repairs or replacement parts are needed. We will ensure that your chimney is capable of delivering exhaust out of your house, and you will receive a written evaluation of your chimney after our inspection is complete.
Level 2 Inspections: This level of inspection is required when you are buying or selling a home, after you have made any changes to your chimney and fireplace system (like a relining work, a change in fuel type, installing glass doors, and the like), or after an external event or natural disaster has occurred (think earthquakes, lightning strikes, tornadoes, chimney fires, etc.).
In addition to checking the readily accessible parts of the chimney, a Level 2 inspection also includes a check of the attic, crawl spaces, and/or basement. We may also use appropriate tools to examine all accessible areas of the chimney and fireplace.
What really sets a level 2 inspection apart, though, is the use of camera equipment to get an up-close and in-depth look at every inch of the inside of your chimney. In the end, if any potential issues are present, you can bet we won’t miss them!
Level 3 Inspections: A level 3 inspection will be completed only when other inspections have indicated a potentially serious problem within your fireplace or chimney that can’t be accessed visually or with camera equipment. It involves the removal, and possibly destruction, of parts of the chimney, like the crown or the wall, to locate the the cause of the issue.
These are only completed when absolutely necessary. Before we do this level of inspection, we will explain why it is needed and give you photos and video footage that documents the reason for it. Note that it is only recommended when we have strong evidence that a serious hazard is present.
Why Annual Inspections?
Why are annual inspections the recommended approach?
Well, throughout these inspections, chimney pros will check for blockages, creosote build up, signs of animal intrusion, water leaks and damage, structural flaws, and a whole lot more. These issues can cause chimney/house fires, inefficiency, smoke backup, gas leaks, and other hazardous scenarios. Needless to say, it’s always better to spot any issues earlier (in other words, before lighting any fires), rather than later.
Basically, investing in an inspection guarantees safer and more productive burning seasons for you and your household.
And, needless to say, hiring the right team for the job is essential. Taking your time and doing your research pays off a lot when it comes to finding a crew that’s going to treat you fairly and professionally. Look for sweeps that are certified with the CSIA, have plenty of years of experience under their belts, and are well-reviewed throughout your community.
Chimney Working Fine? Annual Inspections Are Still a Must!
We come across a lot of responsible homeowners who feel that, as long as their chimney is working properly and they haven’t spotted any cracks or damages, then an inspection isn’t necessary that year. Unfortunately, it’s this thought process that tends to eventually lead to the bigger, more costly issues down the line.
When it comes to chimney care, preventive maintenance is key. Avoiding annual inspections means sweeps won’t have the opportunity to spot minor damages before they get worse. What usually happens is that the homeowner calls after a big, obvious problem has occurred – one that’s expensive to fix and could have been avoided if addressed earlier.
Annual inspections allow us the chance to tackle these issues well before they turn into time-consuming and costly projects.
Ready to Book Your Inspection?
Make sure your chimney and fireplace system will work safely and efficiently this fall and winter by working with the best! Our team of experienced, professional, CSIA-certified sweeps would be happy to help every step of the way. And remember – when one of our experts comes to your house, ask any and all questions you have about the work they are doing. We’d be happy to address any concerns you have.
Contact us at Ashbusters today to schedule an appointment for your annual chimney inspection.