Summer is winding down. Chilly autumn weather will be here soon. Before you light up your fireplace this fall, it’s important to ensure that your chimney is clean and working properly. Around 24,500 residential fires, causing more than $121 million in property damage, occur every year due to solid-fuel heating appliances like fireplaces and stoves. Many of these fires begin in the chimney. A chimney inspection is an important annual checkup to ensure your home’s fireplace and chimney are safe to use.
The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) developed three standardized inspection levels based on the National Fire Protection Agency’s recommendations for chimney safety. The level of chimney inspection your home requires depends on the health of your chimney system. In most cases, a Level I inspection is appropriate.
Level I Chimney Inspection
A Level I chimney inspection is an assessment of the overall health of your chimney system. It includes a visual assessment of all accessible components of the fireplace and chimney. During this inspection, a CSIA-certified technician will examine the exterior masonry and look inside the flue for indicators of damage or wear-and-tear. They will test out chimney components like the damper to ensure they are working properly. They will also measure the level of creosote in the chimney and use the best method to remove it.
If your fireplace has been functioning properly and you haven’t noticed any issues with the chimney or changed the fireplace’s fuel type, a Level I inspection is all your chimney needs. It is the standard for annual chimney maintenance. If the chimney technician finds signs of damage, a Level II or Level III inspection may be recommended.
Level II Chimney Inspection
A Level II chimney inspection is more in-depth. It is a comprehensive assessment of the chimney system and its structural integrity that often requires the use of a closed-circuit camera to get an intimate look inside the chimney. The CSIA-certified technician may also go into your attic or crawl space to access hidden parts of the chimney.
The CSIA recommends Level II chimney inspections after a chimney fire or natural disasters like a tornado or earthquake. This is also the type of inspection that you should schedule if you notice a problem with the chimney, change the fuel source for your fireplace or have a new chimney liner installed. You may be required to schedule a Level II inspection of the chimney if you plan to put your home on the market.
Level III Chimney Inspection
A Level III chimney inspection is an invasive, in-depth assessment of the chimney that is only necessary for certain circumstances. During a Level III inspection, parts of your chimney will be removed so that a CSIA-certified technician has direct access to problematic parts of the chimney.
The CSIA only recommends Level III chimney inspections when severe structural damage has been discovered.
Chimney inspections can uncover missing or broken chimney components, improper flue lining, structural damage, and water intrusion. Catching problems like these early on can save you hundreds of dollars and protect you from a house fire or carbon monoxide exposure. If you haven’t scheduled a chimney inspection this year, give High’s Chimney Service a call before the busy season starts! We serve residents from Prince George’s County, MD to Fairfax County, VA.