There are three levels of chimney inspections. Simply put, a level 1 inspection is the most basic inspection and is required with each chimney swept. Level 2 and level 3 are progressively more detailed and comprehensive.
Chimney techs can perform portions of a higher level of inspection without doing a total inspection. For example, at Patriot Chimney, we always run a camera, which is usually part of a level 2 and 3 inspections, even with Level 1 Inspections.
Chimney technicians also usually start with a Level 1 inspection and, based on their findings, may recommend a Level 2 or Level 3.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) — whose sole mission is to limit death, injury, and property damage from fire hazards — set the standard for chimney inspections in 2000 by providing the guidelines, procedures, and the three “levels” for chimney inspections in their Code 211.
NFPA 211 suggests you get an annual inspection if you continually used your chimney and you didn’t change anything with it.
It also requires that you have your chimney inspected by companies that are responsible for venting, installing, inspecting, repairing, and/or servicing heat-producing appliances. Not a roofer, or a home inspector, or HVAC technician, or your friend that’s not a chimney technician. The person should also meet the requirements set by the fire marshal, with regards to licenses, insurance, and certifications.
When To Get Your Chimney Inspected
The most current edition of the NFPA 211 recommends annual inspections for all chimneys, fireplaces with continuous use. But there are other times that would require an inspection to ensure your chimney can safely be used.
If your chimney faced some sort of operating malfunction, any unusual or sudden event, like a chimney fire, lightning strike, or earthquake, you should call a technician to check it out.
You should have a level 2 inspection of a chimney before purchasing a home with an existing chimney or vent.
Whenever you make changes to your chimney or vent system you need to have a technician come inspect. This includes the replacement of connected appliances or installations of other appliances. This should also include if you relined or replaced your system.