Chimney Inspections Explained

Attractive young engineerLevel 1 inspection

A Level I inspection is the recommended level when an evaluation of the chimney system for continued service is needed and the conditions of use are not changing.  This could include: Routine or annual evaluations of the venting system, An appliance connected to the system is being replaced with a similar appliance, or During chimney cleaning or sweeping.  A Level I inspection is limited to readily accessible portions of the venting system, and accessible portions of the connected appliance(s) and the chimney connection. The inspector will check the readily accessible portions of the chimney, its enclosing structure, and the flue.  A Level I inspection includes verification that the flue is not blocked or significantly restricted.

Frequency of Inspection: NFPA recommends that all chimneys, fireplaces and vents be inspected annually. In addition to this requirement, there are other times when chimney and venting systems should be inspected, such as:

  1. After any unusual, or sudden occurrence event, such as a chimney fire, lightning strike, or earthquake
  2. Prior to purchasing a home with an existing chimney
  3. Whenever changes are made to a chimney or vent system, including replacement of connected appliances
  4. Prior to major system repairs


Level 2 Inspection

A Level II inspection is more detailed and thorough than a Level I inspection and is the recommended inspection when conditions of use for the appliance or venting system are changing, or when a Level I inspection reveals the need for a more detailed inspection.

Several instances where a Level II inspection is specifically recommended include: Replacement of an appliance with one of dissimilar type, input rating or efficiency, Prior to a flue relining, Upon sale or transfer of the property, After an event likely to have caused damage to the chimney, such as a chimney fire or other sudden occurrence event.

A Level II inspection includes all of the requirements of a Level I inspection as well as the following: Inspection of accessible areas of attics, basements, and crawlspaces, Accessible areas of the chimney exterior and interior, Accessible portions of the appliance and chimney connection, Video scanning, or other thorough inspection of the flue interior.  Evaluation of the flue lining to determine that its material and sizing is appropriate for the appliances being served, Proper clearance to combustibles in the accessible areas listed above, Proper construction and condition of the chimney system in the accessible areas listed above.

While the Level II inspection is a rather thorough inspection and requires access to many areas of the building, it does not require removal of permanent parts of the building, such as siding, chase covers or wall coverings.


Level 3 Inspection

A Level III inspection is the most detailed of all of the inspection types and includes inspection of concealed areas of the building. However, examination of concealed areas will be limited to areas reasonably suspected of containing hazards that cannot be evaluated otherwise.

A Level III inspection includes all areas covered in a Level I and Level II inspection, and inspection of concealed areas to investigate known or suspected problems. In as much as certain portions of a Level III inspection require destructive action to the building, the inspector will discuss these areas with the building owner prior to the inspection.


Video Scanning

A video scan is where we use a camera system which is lowered into the chimney (or pushed up from the bottom). The camera allows us to inspect the chimney from a range of just a few inches instead of just looking from the top or bottom. The camera image is viewed on a TV monitor by the inspector. Video inspections may be recommended if the customer or sweep suspect certain problems.


Innovative Chimney and Duct offers all Inspection services. 

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Another reason to have your chimney swept!

In December 2010 a German World War II bomb was discovered in a fireplace by a Chimney Sweep during a routine maintenance cleaning.

According to the London news, chimney sweep Carston Bergmann of Sutton, UK was hired by an unsuspected home buyer who wanted to be sure the fireplace was safe prior to use.

The new homeowner and neighbors were evacuated while the bomb was inspected and disarmed by officials.  It is believed that the bomb was purposely hid in the fireplace since it had been found in a compartment of the chimney.

Carsten said: “This is the oddest thing I ever found, I was sweeping inside the chimney and felt something loose.  I pulled it out and got a big surprise.  It was about 20cm long but was big enough to blow up a tank”

The neighbors and homeowner were just glad she had decided to have the chimney and fireplace inspected before she decided to light a fire!

We really get into our chimneys!

We really get into our chimneys!



So there it is… Another reason to have your chimney and fireplace inspected and cleaned regularly, YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT COULD BE HIDING IN THERE!!!