The best way to ensure your chimney and fireplace or wood-burning stove remains in top working condition throughout the burning season is to have it inspected regularly. The National Fire Protection Association recommends that you have your chimney and fuel-burning appliance cleaned and inspected at least once a year, or more depending on how much you use it. There are special circumstances that require a chimney cleaning and inspection, as well. Here are a few of the situations that may call for an additional chimney check-up:
- If your home or chimney has been damaged by a fire, lightning storm, earthquake or other natural disaster.
- If you are considering purchasing a home that has an existing chimney in place.
- If you have had major system repairs performed that resulted in changes to the chimney or vent system, such as replacement of connected appliances.
Taking the time to have your chimney, fireplace or wood-burning stove cleaned and inspected following any of these circumstances will ensure the safety of you, your family and your home. By inspecting the chimney and fuel-burning appliances immediately following a chimney fire or natural disaster, any problems can be caught early, before it is able to cause even more issues down the road. When buying a home, costs from hidden repairs are the last thing you should be thinking about. Having an existing chimney inspected prior to buying the house can give you peace of mind so that the home-buying process is easier and stress-free.
We know the headaches involved in insurance claims regarding chimney fires and other structural damages to your home, so our inspections are designed to make it as easy as possible to provide you with the necessary documentation and reports. We can also help ensure your chimney meets the required safety codes to minimize your liability and risk from faulty chimney ventilation, and to ensure that your fuel-burning appliance is functioning safely and efficiently.
Levels of Chimney Inspections
The Fireplace Doctor offers several levels of chimney inspections, ranging from the most basic to a high-tech video inspection for special circumstances. Here is the complete list of inspections, complete with an explanation of the service offered for each level:
- Level 1 Chimney Inspection. This is the most basic inspection we offer. It is recommended for continued use of chimneys and comes with every chimney sweep our technicians perform. The technician will inspect the accessible parts of the chimney’s exterior and interior, as well as those of the connected fuel-burning appliance. He will check for basic structural integrity and safe connections, and make sure the chimney flue is free of obstructions.
- Level 2 Chimney Inspection. This upper level inspection is usually required when any changes are made to the chimney or vent system, including different types of fuel being introduced, changes made to the shape or material of the flue, or the replacement or addition of an appliance. It is also required before a home is bought or sold, or when a chimney fire or natural disaster has occurred and potential damages were done to the chimney or fuel-burning appliance. A level 2 inspection includes the parts of the chimney and appliance accessed in the basic inspection, plus accessible portions of the upper and lower chimney exterior and interior, including attics, crawl spaces and basements. This inspection doesn’t require special tools, but it does include a visual inspection using video scanning or other means to examine the interior surfaces of the flue liner.
- Level 3 Inspection. During this inspection, the technician will check the same portions of the chimney included in the previous two inspections, but he will take it one step further and use special tools to access concealed areas of the chimney or flue. A level 3 inspection checks for structural integrity on accessible and concealed areas, and sometimes requires removal of permanently attached portions of the chimney to be completed.
- Video Inspection. This inspection utilizes state-of-the-art video equipment to thoroughly inspect the interior of the chimney for damages, including cracks in flue tiles, gaps in mortar joins or missing bricks. For insurance claim inspections following chimney fires, proper records and images will be kept to help you with the process.