What Kind of Chimney Inspection Do You Need?

The Chimney Safety Institute of America and the National Fire Protection Association recommend that you have your chimney cleaned and inspected annually. There are three levels of inspection, as designated by the National Fire Protection Association.

Level one inspection. This is the most common and basic type of inspection, and it is recommended if nothing about your chimney or use of it has changed since its last inspection. Essentially, it’s the chimney equivalent of an annual physical. The technician should inspect the readily accessible portions of the chimney’s interior and exterior as well as the chimney connection. The technician should also make sure that the chimney is free of obstructions and combustible material.

Level two inspection. A level two inspection is required when any changes have been made to the chimney, fireplace, or their use since the last inspection. If you’ve had your flue relined, for example, you’ll need a level two inspection. It is also required if the property has changed possession since the last inspection or if the structural integrity of the chimney has been compromised (e.g., from a fire or tornado). It should include everything in a level one inspection plus an examination of every accessible portion of the chimney’s exterior and interior. A level two inspection should also include a visual inspection of the internal portion of the chimney, generally accomplished by a video scan.

Level three inspection. The most drastic of the three types, a level three inspection is only necessary when serious hazards are suspected. It should include everything present in a level two inspection as well as some demolition where necessary in order to fully inspect questionable areas.