Chimney & Fireplace Inspections

Recommended Frequency of Inspection

Did you know the NFPA recommends you have all chimneys, fireplaces and vents inspected annually? What’s more, your chimney and venting system should be inspected again if you experience any of the following:  

 

  • After any unusual, or sudden occurrence event, such as a chimney fire, lightning strike, or earthquake.

  • Whenever changes are made to a chimney or vent system, including replacement of connected appliances.

  • Prior to any major system repairs.

  • Prior to purchasing a home with an existing chimney.​

Summary 

You should be aware that even the most thorough inspection will not reveal all problems. Some areas of a chimney simply are not assessable due to construction of the house. For this reason, you will want to be sure to discuss any specific concerns with your service technician. The recommended inspection technique will often be based on your comments and concerns.

 

Our technicians are trained to perform the appropriate level of inspection based upon the use of the chimney and any performance problems or safety concerns using the NFPA 211 as our standard.

How safe is your chimney?

At On Top Service, we follow the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommended inspection procedures, which are comprised of three categories (or, levels). We’ll explain more about each level below. 

 

Level I Inspection

The NFPA recommends a Level I inspection of your chimney system when its conditions of use are not changing and an evaluation is due for continued service. This could include: 

  • Routine or annual evaluations of the venting system 

  • An appliance connected to the system is being replaced with a similar appliance 

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. Your 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.

 

Level II Inspection

A Level II inspection is more detailed and thorough than a Level I inspection. Level II inspections are recommended 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:

  • During chimney cleaning or sweeping

  • 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 III Inspection

A Level III inspection is the most detailed of all inspection types. A Level III inspection includes: 

  • All areas covered in a Level I and a Level II inspection, and

  • Inspection of concealed areas to investigate known or suspected problems. 

Please note that examination of concealed areas will always be limited to areas reasonably suspected of containing hazards that cannot be evaluated otherwise. If a Level III inspection requires destructive action to the building to access such concealed areas, the inspector will discuss these areas with the building owner prior to the inspection.

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