When inspecting a chimney system, we follow not only NFPA211 guidelines, but have also developed a process where we actively search for potential safety issues and inspect further than industry standard if potential problems are found.
Also, as a State of Florida Certified Home Inspector, I have the additional knowledge base to look for hazards that a typical chimney sweep may not.
Advanced Inspection Equipment
With today's technology, chimney sweeps can perform a more comprehensive scope of the chimney than every before. I go even further and use the following technology:
Years of Experience
Between the years of experience learning the basics with my father and the 1000+ inspections I perform per year, I have come to recognize common and uncommon issues that develop with all types of fireplaces.
In addition, I average over three hundred hours per year of training so I can keep up with the newest technology and constantly grow my knowledge base.
Levels of Inspection
NFPA has developed three standard levels of inspection to create consistency within the industry and help the consumer pick the level of inspection needed for their home. Below are three levels of inspection explained:
Level 1 Inspection
If your appliance or your venting system has not changed and you plan to use your system as you have in the past, then a Level 1 inspection is a minimum requirement. A Level 1 inspection is recommended for a chimney under continued service, under the same conditions, and with the continued use of the same appliance.
In a Level 1 inspection, your chimney service technician should examine the readily accessible**portions of the chimney exterior, interior and accessible* portions of the appliance and the chimney connection. Your technician will be looking for the basic soundness of the chimney structure and flue as well as the basic appliance installation and connections. The technician will also verify the chimney is free of obstruction and combustible deposits.
Level 2 Inspection
A Level 2 inspection is required when any changes are made to the system. Changes can include a change in the fuel type, changes to the shape of, or material in, the flue (i.e. relining), or the replacement or addition of an appliance of a dissimilar type, input rating or efficiency. Additionally, a Level 2 inspection is required upon the sale or transfer of a property or after an operation malfunction or external event that is likely to have caused damage to the chimney. Building fires, chimney fires, seismic events as well as weather events are all indicators that this level of inspection is warranted.
There are no specialty tools (i.e. demolition equipment) required to open doors, panels or coverings in performing a Level 2 inspection. A Level 2 inspection shall also include a visual inspection by video scanning or other means in order to examine the internal surfaces and joints of all flue liners incorporated within the chimney. No removal or destruction of permanently attached portions of the chimney or building structure or finish shall be required by a Level 2 inspection.
When a Level 1 or Level 2 inspection suggests a hidden hazard and the evaluation cannot be performed without special tools to access concealed areas of the chimney or flue, a Level 3 inspection is recommended. A Level 3 inspection addresses the proper construction and the condition of concealed portions of the chimney structure and the flue. Removal or destruction, as necessary, of permanently attached portions of the chimney or building structure will be required for the completion of a Level 3 inspection. A Level 2 inspection includes everything in a Level 1 inspection, plus the accessible* portions of the chimney exterior and interior including attics, crawl spaces and basements. It will address proper clearances from combustibles in accessible locations.
Level 3 Inspection
A Level 3 inspection includes all the areas and items checked in a Level 1 and a Level 2 inspection, as well as the removal of certain components of the building or chimney where necessary.
Removal of components (i.e., chimney crown, interior chimney wall) shall be required only when necessary to gain access to areas that are the subject of the inspection. When serious hazards are suspected, a Level 3 inspection may well be required to determine the condition of the chimney system.
* Accessible: May require the use of commonly available tools to remove doors, panels or coverings, but will not damage the chimney or building structure or finish.
** Readily Accessible: Exposed, or capable of being exposed, for operation, inspection, maintenance or repair without the use of tools to open or remove doors, panels or coverings.
Copyright © 2018 Mike the Chimney Guy - All Rights Reserved.