Levels of Chimney Inspections
Chimneys undergo a lot of wear and tear. During use, they can be damaged by heat, and over time, metal flue liners can rust or warp, while chimney bricks can crumble.
Getting your chimney regularly inspected can prevent problems from becoming major issues. But the type of inspection you need depends on a few factors. Contact Chimney Inspection Baltimore now!
A level 1 inspection is basic, typically all required for many systems. It can be effective when your chimney sweep looks around the exterior to see if any cracks or water damage could pose a danger. This type of inspection is usually the most cost-effective for most customers.
In this type of inspection, your chimney service technician examines the readily accessible** portions of the chimney exterior and interior and the accessible portions of the appliance and chimney connection. In addition, the chimney service technician will also verify that the chimney structure and flue are sound, the fire-stopping is adequate, and there are no combustible deposits in inaccessible areas of the chimney and fireplace.
If the results of a Level 1 or Level 2 inspection suggest that there may be a hidden hazard, then a Level 3 inspection is required. A Level 2 or Level 3 inspection results must be reviewed before a new type of fuel is added to the system, the shape or size of the flue changes, an addition is made to the appliance, or any other significant change has occurred in the system. In a Level 3 inspection, your chimney service technician will use special tools to access concealed parts of the chimney or flue. This may require removing or destroying permanently attached parts of the chimney or building structure, but only to gain access to the hidden parts for evaluation.
A Level 3 inspection can be very time-consuming, and it is recommended that this type of inspection only be performed when necessary and when a major safety concern has been suggested by either a Level 1 or a Level 2 inspection. Your chimney service technician will discuss their findings and recommendations before beginning a Level 3 inspection because sometimes a Level 3 requires a little demolition.
The best way to prepare for your DOT Inspection is to ensure all the documentation is ready. This includes your driver’s license, medical certificate, skill performance evaluation certificates, ELD or log book, and vehicle registration(s). Keeping your shipping information and other supporting documents updated is also a good idea. Finally, be polite and cooperative with your inspector. Take the time to answer any questions and disputes that they may have. Doing this will help you pass your inspection with flying colors!
A level 2 chimney inspection is more thorough and includes a video scan of the inside. This allows the chimney sweep to look for cracks or deterioration that may not be apparent during a basic home inspection. It also gives the chimney sweep a better view of the flue to determine whether it is clean and free of obstructions or needs cleaning.
Chimneys are prone to damage from normal wear and tear and environmental factors. This can cause the fireplace and chimney to rust, the flue liner to crack or break, and the bricks that keep the system together to erode from freeze/thaw cycles. A level 2 inspection can reveal these hazards, which can be serious and lead to expensive repairs.
The most important reason to have a level 2 inspection is before buying or selling a house with a chimney. A typical home inspector will only inspect the readily accessible parts of the chimney and fireplace. This could leave major problems and damages undiscovered and put the new homeowners at risk. A level 2 inspection can uncover these issues and allow the seller to get the repairs done before they sell the house.
Another important reason for a level 2 inspection is after a significant weather event or chimney fire. Chimneys exposed to severe weather can be damaged by wind, rain, snow, and hail. This damage can leave the chimney vulnerable to fires, which can be dangerous. A level 2 inspection can identify these hazards and ensure the chimney is structurally sound and up to code before it is used.
Chimney experts will go into attics, crawl spaces, and basements to visually examine areas inaccessible to a homeowner during a Level 1 inspection. These areas include the top of the chimney, the lintels above the fireplace openings and damper doors, and the fireplace flue and lining. The chimney experts will also check the size and condition of the various chimney components to ensure they are in good working order.
Choosing which general inspection level to use is an important decision that affects the confidence of the inspector’s findings. A faulty choice could mean a violation or citation that negatively impacts your CSA score and causes you to lose revenue due to out-of-service time. You can reduce your chances of a negative inspection outcome by being as prepared as possible. This includes having a clean driver’s license and medical card. It’s also wise to keep all necessary paperwork and required information close at hand so that you can easily provide it when asked. This will help you avoid any errors or delays during the inspection process.
Chimney sweeps will also assess the structure for cracks, leaks, and other problems. They will need to use a ladder and rope to reach the chimney crown, which is located at the top of the chimney. The chimney may need a cap or liner replacement if it is in poor condition.
An experienced chimney sweeper will know how to adjust the speed of a power sweep brush head for the flue type and condition they are working on. Using the wrong speed can cause the brushes to damage the chimney walls.
Having your chimney swept regularly is essential. It helps prevent excessive creosote buildup, which can lead to a fire that threatens your home or carbon monoxide poisoning, as well as reduce the risk of fire damage and other problems caused by smoke or fumes escaping the chimney. According to the National Fire Protection Association, fireplaces and chimneys should be inspected and cleaned at least once yearly or more frequently if used often.
In addition to removing a layer of flammable, corrosive creosote, regular cleanings help eliminate potential pest infestations. Animals can nest inside chimneys clo,g flues, and cause structural issues that may require expensive repairs. Hiring a qualified, certified chimney sweep is the best way to ensure your chimney is safe for you and your family.
If you have pets, have them in another room while the chimney sweep works. They might be disturbed by the noise of the equipment or by having a stranger in their home, and pets are also at risk of breathing in smoke, soot, and other chemicals emitted during this process.
Before the chimney sweep arrives, ensure that all embers have completely burned out and that your fireplace is cool. It’s a good idea to spread a drop cloth or towel in front of the fireplace to keep any ash and debris from spilling on your floor. In addition, you should roll up any rugs in the area to protect them from soot and ash.
Once the chimney sweep finishes the inspection and cleaning, you will receive a written report outlining your chimney’s condition, including any recommendations for repairs or maintenance. In addition to noting any signs of structural deterioration like cracking bricks, the report will detail the amount and type of accumulating creosote. It will also list any other issues, such as white stains or efflorescence, that indicate the presence of moisture.
A professional chimney sweep can also recommend safety measures, such as a fireplace insert, which reduces creosote buildup and makes removing it easier. He or she can also advise you on the best way to use your fireplace safely, such as adding a few aspen logs to the end of each fire to help it burn quickly and cleanly.