Do You Need To Have Your Chimney Inspected?

April 9th, 2012 by affordablesweep Leave a reply »

Chimney Inspectionsaffordable chimney service

Chimney inspections are best performed by your chimney sweep who carry the NCCSA Certified Chimney Sweep credential. All of the North Carolina Chimney technicians carry this certification because we know the inspection and evaluation of your chimney is important. While not all chimney inspections are the same, they are all vital. At Affordable Chimney Service, we follow the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommended inspection procedures 100% of the time. There are 3 levels in a NFPA inspection procedure. The circumstances and condition of your chimney will determine what level of inspection is to be conducted. A Level I inspection is the most basic level of inspection while Level II and Level III inspections are progressively more detailed and comprehensive. A Level I inspection is always completed during each chimney cleaning, or sweeping.

Level I Inspection

As stated before a Level I inspection is conducted and is the recommended level when an evaluation of the chimney system for continued service is needed and the conditions of use are not changing. This could include:

  • Routine or annual evaluations of the venting system
  • An appliance connected to the system is being replaced with a similar appliance
  • During chimney cleaning or sweeping

The Level I inspection is limited to readily accessible portions of the venting system, and accessible portions of the connected appliance(s) as well as the chimney connection. Our technicians will inspect the readily accessible portions of the chimney, its enclosing structure, and the flue. A Level I inspection includes verification that the flue is not blocked or significantly restricted.

Level II Inspection

You will get a more detailed inspection with a Level II inspection. The Level II inspection is the recommended inspection when conditions of use for the appliance or venting system are changing, or when a Level I inspection reveals the need for a more detailed inspection for safety or functionality issues. Several instances where a Level II inspection is specifically recommended include:

  • Replacement of an appliance with one of dissimilar type, input rating or efficiency
  • Prior to a flue relining
  • Upon sale or transfer of the property
  • After an event likely to have caused damage to the chimney, such as a chimney fire or other sudden occurrence event

With a Level II inspection the readily accessible portions of the venting system, and accessible portions of the connected appliance(s) and the chimney connection will be inspected (Level I), plus the following:

  • Inspection of accessible areas of attics, basements, and crawlspaces
  • Accessible areas of the chimney exterior and interior
  • Accessible portions of the appliance and chimney connection
  • Video scanning, or other thorough inspection, of the flue interior
  • Evaluation of the flue lining to determine that its material and sizing is appropriate for the appliances being served
  • Proper clearance to combustibles in the accessible areas listed above
  • Proper construction and condition of the chimney system in the accessible areas listed above

While the Level II inspection is a rather thorough inspection and requires access to many areas of the building, it does not require removal of permanent parts of the building, such as siding, chase covers or wall coverings.

Level III Inspection

As you might expect, a Level III inspection is the most thorough of all of the inspection types. A Level III includes all the areas in the Level I and Level II inspections plus inspection of concealed areas of the building. Just understand that the examination of concealed areas will be limited to areas reasonably suspected of containing hazards that cannot be evaluated otherwise.

A Level III inspection of concealed areas will be specifically to investigate known or suspected problems. Understandably, portions of a Level III inspection could likely require destructive action to the structure. Your chimney sweep will discuss what areas will be affected with the building owner prior to the inspection.

Frequency of Inspection

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)has recommended that all chimneys, fireplaces and vents be inspected annually. However, there are other times when chimneys and venting systems should be inspected. The following outlines the more common occurrences but you should have an inspection any time you feel your fireplace, chimney or venting system has been compromised.

  1. After any unusual, or sudden occurrence event, such as a chimney fire, lightning strike, or earthquake
  2. Prior to purchasing a home with an existing chimney
  3. Whenever changes are made to a chimney or vent system, including replacement of connected appliances
  4. Prior to major system repairs

Video Scanning

Video Scanning is where we use a camera system which is lowered into the chimney (or pushed up from the bottom). The camera allows me to inspect the chimney up close and personal. Your chimney sweep can easily view the camera image on a TV monitor and identify any damage to the liner or chimney wall. Video inspections may be recommended after a chimney fire or some other form of damage to a chimney and are a routine part of a Level II or Level III inspection. Of course, if the customer or your chimney sweep has an indication of other problems, doing a video scan is the easiest way to identify what’s going on inside the chimney.


There are times when the best inspection possible does not reveal all problems because the chimney is not completely assessable due to the construction of the house. Please make sure you discuss any specific concerns with your chimney sweep so we can be looking for anything that might be causing your particular issue. The recommended inspection technique will often be based on your comments and concerns. Again, your chimney sweep is trained to perform the appropriate level of inspection based upon the use of the chimney and any performance problems or safety concerns using the NFPA 211 as our standard.

Please e-mail me with your questions,


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