Fall’s cooler temperatures are just around the corner. This year, make sure your fireplace is ready to use by having your chimney inspected before your first fire.

What is a chimney inspection?

A chimney inspection is an important diagnostic tool that can be used to identify the cause of fireplace performance problems as well as assess the condition of everything from the firebox to the flue. Chimney inspections are an important part of regular annual fireplace maintenance and are helpful in finding areas of damage or deterioration before they turn into major problems.

According to the National Fire Protection Agency, or NFPA, “Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary.”

Three Levels of Chimney Inspections

NFPA Standard 211 created three standardized levels of chimney inspection. Your chimney sweep can help you determine which level of chimney inspection is best for your home based on use, condition, or performance problems.

  • Level I: Level I chimney inspections are the standard level of inspection for homes with fireplace in good condition that have not been modified, damaged, or experienced performance problems. During a Level I inspection, the accessible interior and exterior portions of the chimney are checked for signs of damage or deterioration.
  • Level II: Level II chimney inspections are more in-depth; inaccessible portions of the flue are checked using technology such as closed circuit cameras. Level II chimney inspections are often recommended when a home is being bought or sold. Likewise, they are also used when there have been changes to the fireplace such as changing fuel sources or installing a new insert.
  • Level III: Level III chimney inspections are the most in depth – and invasive. Because of this, they are only recommended in cases of severe damage or structural instability after natural disasters such as earthquakes, fires, or tornadoes. During a Level III chimney inspection, portions of the masonry, walls, or ceilings around the fireplace and chimney may need to be removed in order to fully assess the damage.

The Importance of Annual Chimney Inspections

“A chimney inspection is like an annual dental check-up,” says Ashley Eldridge, Director of Education for the CSIA. “It’s preventative maintenance that helps minimize potential hazards.”

After a summer of disuse, it is important to have your chimney swept before using it for the first time. Debris, water, and animal entry can all create chimney problems during the spring and summer; while these issues are often quickly recognized when the fireplace is being regularly used, they may have gone unnoticed during the summer. An inspection can identify these issues and allow them to be repaired – without causing further problems or damage to the chimney.

Make sure your chimney is ready for the first fire of the season by having it inspected. Contact Jack Pixley Sweeps today to schedule your fall chimney inspection and get your fireplace ready for fall.