The Three Levels of Chimney Inspections


Summer has come and gone this year, and the cooler weather is right around the corner. Many people are focused on all the changes and excitement that happen this time of year like the kids returning to school, the leaves changing colors, and preparing for all the upcoming holidays. Homeowners in particular may also be thinking about preparing their fireplaces for the first fire of the season. Experts recommend having your chimney swept and inspected every year.

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Why Is It Important to Sweep the Chimney?

Chimney sweeps serve two functions. The first is to make sure nothing has made a home inside your chimney. An obstruction, like a small animal, will inhibit your fireplace’s ability to properly vent dangerous gases out of your home. In turn, the gases will back up into your home and create a deadly situation. Chimney sweeps also clean creosote buildup off the surface of the flue lining. Creosote is a tar-like product of burning wood, and it clings to the all surfaces it comes into contact with. In addition to being a serious health hazard, creosote is also very flammable. As it builds up inside your chimney, the risk of an unintentional fire in the chimney or house increases significantly. For all of these reasons, you should have your chimney swept at least once every year.

Why Do I Need an Inspection Too?

Inspections have a completely different purpose than chimney sweeps. Rather than cleaning, inspections simply look at the fireplace and chimney to uncover any damaged or nonfunctional parts. The chimney is more than just a pipe to the outside. If any of its many parts have damage, your home or family may be at risk, so inspections are crucial.

The National Fire Protection Association has a strict set of inspection guidelines that all chimney inspection services must follow. These guidelines consist of three levels of inspection meant to give you the most accurate inspection your chimney needs.

The first level is the most basic. If your venting system has not changed since the last inspection and you plan to use your fireplace in the same way you have in the past, you will most likely need a Level 1 chimney inspection. Here, the inspector examines all of the “readily accessible” parts of your chimney for correct structure and function.

A Level 2 inspection is more comprehensive and is required when a change is made in the fuel type, the flue lining is redone, the house has transferred owners, or there has been an unintended fire. This inspection covers everything done in a Level 1 inspection, but the technician also examines accessible parts of the chimney, such as those in the attic, crawl space or basement.

A Level 3 inspection is done when a Level 1 or 2 inspection suggests a hazard is hidden within the structure of the chimney. The inspection requires minor demolition in order to look fully within the structure for any damages.

When you make your annual appointment for your chimney sweep, also ask to have your chimney inspected. If you live in the area of Elkton, Maryland, contact Ace Chimney Sweeps for a professional consultation.



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