Chimney Inspection Levels

Many home inspectors will recommend a chimney inspection in addition to the standard home inspection. A chimney can be hiding significant damage that can lead to dangerous carbon monoxide leaks and a house fire.

A reputable, CSIA certified chimney sweep can spot these issues before they become major problems. Having a chimney inspection done before buying a home will give buyers peace of mind and can reduce homeowners insurance rates. Contact Chimney Inspection Baltimore now!

A chimney inspection is a visual assessment of the structural integrity and functionality of the chimney. Its main purpose is to identify any problems or hazards that could compromise the safety and functionality of the fireplace, flue and venting system. Chimney inspections can be broken down into different levels based on the scope and complexity of the chimney and its surrounding structures.

Level 1 is the most basic type of chimney inspection. It is typically performed for easy-to-access chimneys or fireplaces that have been used regularly and under the same conditions. A professional technician will verify the basic soundness of the chimney structure and the flue, as well as check for basic appliance connections. They will also make sure that the chimney is free of combustible deposits and flammable debris.

Chimneys are prone to water damage because of their porous masonry construction. This damage can lead to leaks that can affect the chimney’s structural stability and occupants’ health and safety. Water damage can also speed up the chimney’s natural deterioration process, which is why it’s important to examine the chimney for any signs of moisture problems on a regular basis.

An essential part of any chimney is its lining, which is designed to reduce the amount of smoke and gas emitted during combustion. A deteriorating lining can increase the risk of chimney fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. Chimney professionals will look for cracks and gaps in the lining as well as a buildup of creosote, which is a highly flammable substance.

When assessing the chimney, it’s also important to inspect the firebox and grate. Look for cracks, rust, and other signs of wear. It’s also important to examine the damper for proper operation and a clear path of airflow.

Chimneys that have been used for a long time often need to be relined due to the breakdown of the original lining. An experienced chimney technician can determine if a new liner is necessary and recommend the best course of action.

Level 2 Inspection

This level is often referred to as the middle ground between level one and level three. It allows homeowners to get a more in-depth analysis of their chimney without being too invasive or damaging the structure. This is achieved with closed-circuit cameras that can be used to scan the entire chimney, including the hard to reach areas of the flue.

Your chimney sweep may recommend this inspection for a variety of reasons. For example, if you’ve made a change to your fireplace system, like switching the fuel source or installing a new insert. In these circumstances, a level two inspection can identify if any modifications need to be made in order to improve drafting or safety. It’s also important to conduct this type of inspection before buying or selling a home. It will provide potential buyers with peace of mind that the chimney is in good condition and identify any issues that could be costly down the road.

During a level 2 inspection, the inspector will check for proper clearance from combustible building materials and scan the entire chimney using a closed circuit camera to inspect hard to reach areas of the flue. They will then provide a written report detailing their findings. This report will describe the overall condition of the chimney and include an estimated cost for any necessary repairs. As with any type of inspection, it’s important to schedule routine maintenance to avoid more expensive, long-term repairs. The best way to prevent problems is by having your chimney regularly swept and having a level 1 chimney inspection performed annually.

Level 3 Inspection

A level three inspection involves a level two inspection plus verification of public and confidential vehicle identification numbers on, at the inspector’s discretion, some or all components to determine that the vehicle meets statutory requirements for highway use. General III is a good choice for new suppliers that you’re unsure of or long-term suppliers with frequent quality issues. This level also allows for additional inspections of brake systems; cargo securement; coupling devices; exhaust systems; frames and suspensions; and van and open-top trailer bodies.

Level 4 Inspection

A chimney that’s deteriorated or damaged can be dangerous to the people and animals living inside your home. It can also damage your home, causing serious structural issues and costly repairs. A regular inspection by a certified chimney sweep is the best way to ensure your fireplace and chimney are in good working condition.

Your chimney is comprised of bricks and mortar that’s exposed to the elements. Over time, this can cause cracks and other damage that weaken the structure and lead to leaks. A professional chimney sweep will look for these issues and repair them if necessary.

The chimney crown, which is a concrete cap at the top of the chimney, should be free from cracks or gaps. It should also be surrounded by a protective masonry lining. The flashing, which is a strip of metal that seals the chimney at the roof, should be in good condition and properly secured. Your chimney sweep will also check the firebox walls for damage and cracks, and make sure the damper opens, closes and seals properly. He or she will also examine the liners, whether they’re made of clay tiles, steel or a poured-in-place material, and make sure they’re in good shape. Chimney liners are designed to protect the masonry structure from the hot, flammable gases produced by wood and other fuels.

No lining lasts forever, however. Over time, heat and weather can cause it to crack or break. A cracked or broken liner leaves the interior chimney masonry exposed to extreme heat and moisture, which can lead to serious structural problems and chimney fires.

When your chimney liner is in poor condition, your technician will recommend either a repair or replacement. Repairs can usually be done at a much lower cost than replacing the entire chimney system, which can cost thousands of dollars or more.

It’s important to have your chimney inspected on a routine basis to prevent damage and keep your family safe. A certified chimney sweep has the tools and experience to conduct a thorough inspection, which can identify problems that you might miss during a DIY inspection.

Preventing Fires

A chimney fire can destroy a fireplace, injure a family and cause costly damages to the home. The risk of chimney fire is why the National Fire Protection Association recommends that homeowners have their fireplace and chimney inspected and cleaned annually. A professional sweep can spot problems that a homeowner might miss, such as an improperly installed or damaged chimney liner or a crack in the chimney flue.

Chimney fires are the leading cause of residential house fires and account for billions in property damage and thousands of injuries each year. A chimney fire usually starts with a spark or ember that ignites soot and creosote, which then rapidly spreads through the chimney to other parts of the house. Having a well-maintained chimney system and regular chimney sweeps can prevent soot, creosote and other hazardous deposits from building up inside the flue and igniting a chimney fire.

A professional chimney sweep will use a brush that fits on a rod that goes down the chimney to scrape away the accumulated soot and creosote. They also wear gloves and masks to protect themselves from the dust and ash that can cling to clothing and rugs. After the soot and creosote are removed, the chimney sweep will do a visual inspection to make sure everything is in good condition.

The sweep may need to remove twigs, leaves and animal nests from the fireplace and chimney structure as well. When these materials obstruct the chimney, they can push dangerous carbon monoxide into the home. This odorless, colorless gas is a deadly poison and can be fatal at high levels. A clogged chimney also allows smoke to back up into the home, staining rugs and ruining furniture. A chimney sweep will clean out the obstructed area and restore proper airflow, preventing these issues.

If you think that your chimney might be in need of a sweep, it is important to find a certified chimney service company with a solid reputation and experience. A chimney sweep should be a member of the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and carry a liability insurance policy to protect your property from any damages caused by the chimney cleaning process.