Is a chimney inspection necessary? How often should it be done? Is this exercise a component of a home inspection?

Here are the facts.

One of the main reasons for an inspection is to determine the working condition or functionality of a thing. The same applies to a chimney and fireplace. A new chimney is usually expected to operate at its optimal best.

However, for your new chimney to remain efficient, some level of maintenance will be necessary.

Now, preceding such maintenance is the need for inspection. This helps ascertain the working condition of the chimney and fireplace.

Faults or problems are also identified and fixed.

Reasons For Chimney Inspections

A chimney inspection is usually targeted at finding out if any problems exist. Also, this activity becomes necessary when there’s an existing anomaly caused by the faulty operation of your chimney.

If you’ve used or currently use a chimney, you should have encountered a number of these issues.

These consist of wear and tear problems. Now, chimneys are built with a variety of materials. These are meant to withstand fire. Nevertheless, they eventually begin to fail as time goes on. Such failure can be linked to corrosion (for metal flue liners), deterioration of brick and mortar as well as cracked and crumbling flue tiles, etc.

Without urgent measures to fix or rebuild a damaged chimney, this problem worsens thus increasing your exposure to further risks. This is a situation anyone should avoid at all costs.

The best way to avoid such is by carrying out a chimney and fireplace inspection.

Chimney and Fireplace Inspection Checklist

Chimney and fireplace inspections are classified under different categories.

They include levels 1, 2, and 3 inspections. So, which of these chimney and fireplace inspections is best? The answer is simply…none! How? You might ask.

Well, it all depends on the problem at hand.

Certain types of chimney and fireplace inspections are best suited for specific problems. Sometimes, after carrying out one type of inspection, findings may require further or a much detailed probe of the problem.

This is where other types of inspections may be activated.

Definition of Terms

We may be making mention of terms such as “readily accessible areas.” Now, not every reader will have an idea of what this is all about.

To help you better understand this, chimneys have readily accessible areas, accessible areas as well as non-accessible or concealed areas.

  • Readily Accessible Areas

As the name implies, certain parts of the chimney such as the fireplace and more can be easily accessed. These form the bulk of coverage areas during level 1 chimney inspections.

  • Accessible Areas

Certain chimney parts can be accessed without having to destroy or forcefully gain access.

Here, doors may need to be opened. Also, panels will need to be lifted or opened with the help of basic tools such as wrenches, screwdrivers, and other hand tools.

  • Concealed Areas

Concealed areas of a chimney cannot be inspected through the adoption of level one inspection. This is largely due to their inaccessible nature.

A considerable level of damage will have to occur to gain access to such areas.

  1. Level One Chimney and Fireplace Inspection

To help you better understand what each type of inspection entails, we’ll be providing you with all the necessary and most basic information on them. This classification of chimney inspection types was provided by the National Fire Protection Association (The NFPA).

So, what exactly does level one inspection entail?

This is the most basic of all three chimney inspection categories. It seeks to examine the functionality of all chimney elements. Whenever and wherever issues affecting the system’s smooth functioning are discovered, immediate repairs are carried out.

Level one chimney inspection is confined or restricted to readily accessible areas and is mostly visual.

During such inspections, tools such as ladders are rarely used. The only exception will be when sweeping is required or some repairs are necessary. Otherwise, this activity is only limited to the readily accessible parts of your chimney.

To aid the visual inspection of your chimney during this process, a camera is deployed to aid with a detailed assessment of the flue within the chimney.

  • What Should I Expect During Level One Chimney Inspection?

Whenever a level one inspection is carried out on your chimney and fireplace, it is kick-started by the scheduling of such an inspection. Next, one or more technicians are sent to your property to conduct an onsite inspection.

Having completed the process, a full review of the findings is discussed with you. Your technician explains the details of the findings and recommends the actions necessary to fix any problems detected.

  1. Level Two Chimney and Fireplace Inspection

Unlike level one chimney and fireplace inspection, level two inspections are much detailed and thorough. During the inspection process, different parts of the system are assessed including basements, attics, and crawl spaces.

What more? This type of inspection always involves the use of video scanning. This aids visual inspection of internal chimney surfaces as well as flue liner joints.

  • What to Expect During Level 2 Chimney and Fireplace Inspection

Like level, the inspection process is pretty much straightforward.

Here, you’ll need to first schedule a visit by your preferred service provider. The technician comes around for an onsite assessment. Depending on your chimney’s condition, this process may last from a few minutes to an hour or more.

After inspection, a full review of the findings is discussed with you. Such a discussion seeks to enable you to fully understand the situation at hand and also determined if repairs or cleaning should follow.

It is best to keep a chimney and fireplace inspection schedule. That way, potential problems are detected early and fixed immediately before they worsen.

  1. Level Three Chimney and Fireplace Inspection

This is the third type of inspection and is about the most detailed of the other two.

Here, a comprehensive inspection is carried out. This may involve the removal of certain chimney components in a bid to discover hidden issues or problems.

So, what components are we talking about?

It may include any part of the chimney, especially inaccessible areas. Common areas include interior and exterior walls of your chimney, drywalls, chimney crown also exterior chimney walls.

  • Isn’t Level 3 Chimney Inspection too Destructive?

No! It may look so on the surface. However, such tearing apart is very necessary for fixing the underlying problem. The chimney is restored to full functionality after this extensive inspection and fixing. It is also important to note that levels 1, 2, or both types of inspections can’t replace level three inspection.

In other words, these aren’t sufficient enough to discover the underlying problem which requires level three inspections. In any case, it’s necessary to allow qualified technicians to get the job done. Recommendations given by them should be taken seriously and fully implemented for the smooth functioning of your chimney.

  • What Does Level Three Inspection Entail?

Depending on the chimney service you call, a wide range of areas are checked or inspected. These include clearances within the chase housing, the space around the chimney liner, masonry foundation, debris within the annular space of your fireplace, and also the depth of masonry foundation.

Additional areas checked include the thickness of fireplace walls, the connection between fireplace and chimney, smoke chamber clearance, and smoke chamber wall thickness.

These are only a few of several things checked during the level-three chimney inspection.

When To Call For Chimney Inspection

To have your chimney inspected, it’s necessary to either stick with a schedule or identify a potential problem that needs further probing.

Factors necessitating a chimney inspection can be broadly categorized into chimney malfunction, changes made as well as a house purchase.

All three of these will require a chimney inspection to be made. In most cases, vital discoveries are made which enable the adoption of effective strategies to fix the problem before it gets worse.

Who Should Conduct My Chimney and Fireplace Inspection?

Not everyone is suited for the job when it comes to chimney inspection. Not you, not your friends (especially when they aren’t chimney experts), not an HVAC technician, and neither should a home inspector or roofer be called for this.

We know you’re likely to be a bit confused over the category of people within this restrictive list. The reasons are obvious; these groups of persons are not experts when it comes to professional chimney inspections. So, who should you call then?

We recommend you go for companies or services known for fixing and servicing heat-producing appliances.

Other competent professionals for this job include services that are known for installing, inspecting, and venting heat-producing appliances.

There are several of these. You only need to carry out simple online research to find those nearest to you.

Benefits of Chimney and Fireplace Inspection

Are there any benefits attached to chimney inspections? There are! These include keeping your home and family safe, preventing costly chimney repairs, and also benefiting from increased efficiency in home heating.

Without inspections, you’re likely to be oblivious to the need to have your chimney swept or cleaned. This is likely to result in chimney fires which can be deadly. Chimney inspections save you cost in the sense that you’re able to fix problems at their early stage before they worsen.

The result of these actions is the smooth and efficient functioning of your chimney system.

As we’ve discussed to this point, chimney and fireplace inspections are very crucial and beneficial. This important part of your home must be maintained at all times to prevent accidents such as chimney fires or crumbling structures.