Are you about to purchase a home, or have you lived in your current home for longer than a year? If so, have you had your chimney or furnace system inspected? The current standard, set by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), states, "Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Chimney sweeping, chimney maintenance, and chimney repairs shall be done if necessary." While scheduling an appointment for an annual chimney inspection may seem like just another checklist item, this step can be integral to the safe running of your home heating system. Regular professional inspections and chimney sweeping can keep your fireplace or furnace system free of debris, catch small issues before they turn into large, invasive repairs, and keep your home free of dangerous gases and fire hazards.
A Level 1 chimney inspection is considered the minimum inspection requirement, provided that you haven’t changed your appliance or venting system and that you plan to use the system just as you have in the past. During a Level 1 inspection, your chimney service technician will conduct a visual check of the easily accessible areas (both exterior and interior) of the chimney and fireplace areas. Your inspector will be looking for the soundness of the chimney and flue and keeping an eye out for any obstructions or blockages, including birds’ nests, soot, and creosote buildup (the leading cause of chimney fires). The chimney inspector will also check the soundness of your appliance’s installment and the security of its connections. During a Level 1 inspection, your technician’s only real service tool will be a flashlight, in order to best visually scan your chimney, furnace, and fireplace areas.
In a Level 2 inspection, your technician will conduct a more in-depth scan of the fireplace and chimney areas. It includes everything in a Level 1 inspection, with the addition of inspection of the roof around the chimney area, the attic, and crawl spaces to look for any other damages or obstruction. A Level 2 inspection is required if any changes have been made to your chimney system or if you are buying a home with a chimney system. A Level 2 inspection is also required to check for safety concerns if your home has experienced a dramatic event, such as a hurricane, tornado, or earthquake. A Level 2 inspection requires more tools than a flashlight, but does not require any kind of demolition. A chimney scan is one important aspect of a Level 2 inspection. In a chimney scan, your technician will operate a specialized remote camera system to get an in-depth view of areas of the chimney and furnace not accessible or visible from a Level 1 scan. In order to obtain the best visuals for a chimney scan, the chimney area may need to be swept first to remove any excessive debris. The chimney scan step of a Level 2 inspection can take 20 to 30 minutes to perform. The remote camera system can turn corners and travel up to 30 to 40 feet into your chimney. The camera’s size and capabilities can capture blockages and cracks beyond the abilities of a system technician’s Level 1 visual check, simply because the system is more agile. This scan also allows for more intensive inspection without requiring removal of parts of the chimney or structural areas.
A Level 3 inspection includes all of the elements of Level 1 and 2, but also includes some several more intensive steps. This level of inspection is only conducted if serious chimney damage is suspected. In a Level 3 inspection, concealed areas of the chimney system will need to be inspected. Chimney service technicians may be required to remove permanently attached parts of the chimney or the building structure in order to gain access to potential blockages or other areas of issue. This is generally a final step in order to confirm that major repairs and/or restoration must be completed to bring the chimney system back into safe working order.
We have been proudly serving the Raleigh area since 2010. We pride ourselves in thorough inspections and efficient cleanings to keep your chimney and fireplace system running safely and smoothly year after year.