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The Complete Guide to a Level 2 Inspection [2020]

Introduction

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.

Important Definitions

To help you understand the inspection requirements, I thought it’d be helpful to share the terms: readily accessible, accessible, and non-accessible (concealed). These are a pretty big part in defining which type of inspection you need to have.

Readily Accessible

These are areas that can be reached for inspection or maintenance without the use of tools or ladders.

Accessible Areas

These are parts of your chimney that can be reached without destructive action to the building or building finish. Though, access may require the removal or opening of doors. Panels and the use of common hand tools, such as screwdrivers, pliers, adjustable wrenches, or ladders may be required.

Non-Accessible (Concealed)

These are areas that cannot be reached without damage or destruction to the chimney building or building finish. It also includes areas requires special tools to reach. 

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.

Malfunction

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.

House Purchase

You should have a level 2 inspection of a chimney before purchasing a home with an existing chimney or vent.

Things Change

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.

What is a Level 2 Inspection?

A Level 2 Inspection is more detailed and thorough than a Level 1 Inspection. We include everything in the 50 Point Checklist plus the accessible portions of the chimney exterior and interior. This includes attics, crawl spaces, and basements if they are accessible

There are no specialty tools, such as demolition equipment, that are required to open doors, panels, or coverings with Level 2 inspections. Additionally, it doesn’t require your technician to remove any permanent parts of your home, like siding, chase covers, or wall coverings. 

A Level 2 Inspection should always include a visual inspection by video scanning so that your technician can examine the internal surfaces and joints of all flue liners in the chimney.

 

Why Do You Need a Level 2 Inspection?

A Level 2 inspection is required when you make any changes to your system. This includes changing the fuel, shape or material of the flue, or replacing the appliance. 

Also, a Level 2 inspection is required upon the sale or transfer of your property. Some people think that the home inspection during the due diligence process is enough. But what they don’t realize is that chimney inspections must be done by companies that are responsible for venting, installing, inspecting, repairing, and/or servicing heat-producing appliances. 

You definitely should get an inspection if you experienced an operation malfunction or an external event that may have caused damage to the chimney. This includes building fires, chimney fires, seismic events, as well as some other weather events.

What to Expect During a Level 2 Inspection

Just like with the Level 1 Inspection, some parts are pretty standard between inspections. This includes the fact that I can’t speak for all chimney companies. But I can tell you what to expect with a Patriot Chimney Inspection. 

It all starts with easy scheduling, then moves to the actual inspection, and a review of it all with your technician. 

<<download our full inspection condition report>>

Scheduling

The first thing you’ll do is schedule your appointment. We use an online booking system, so you can schedule online. Once you do that, someone in our office will give you a call to coordinate some time on the calendar.

Or if you’d prefer you can call our office at 540-225-2626 to book your appointment.

Once you’re on the schedule, you’ll get periodic emails (like the one below) and texts reminding you that your appointment is coming up. Of course, if anything changes, just let us know!

The Level 1 Inspection

So you’re here looking at information on a Level 2 inspection, right? So why am I mentioning a Level 1? 

It’s because most of the time, your technician will use a Level 1 inspection to determine if you need a level 2 inspection. It’s a very thorough inspection. In fact, all Level 1 inspections at Patriot Chimney go through our 50 Point Inspection. Your safety is our priority and we sure don’t want to miss anything.

Level 2’s 40 Point Inspection

Your technician decided that you needed to have a more thorough check. At this point, they would have reviewed their Level 1 findings with you and made the recommendation for a Level 2 inspection. Most of the time, the technician just knocks it out while they are there.

Even though with Level 1 inspections we have a very thorough check, for Level 2s, we still have a 40 Point Inspection. Once again, your safety is our priority and we don’t want to miss anything. 

Here is our list of everything we check:

  1. Condition of your chimney
  2. Attic insulation shield for factory-built chimneys
  3. Attic insulation shield for factory-built fireplaces
  4. Housing and shrouds for factory-built chimneys
  5. Housing and shrouds for factory-built fireplaces
  6. Factory-built chimney support type
  7. Factory-built chimney is assembled with appropriate parts
  8. Factory-built fireplace is assembled with appropriate parts
  9. Factory-built chimney clearances
  10. Factory-built fireplace clearances
  11. Factory-built chimney attachment to the appliance
  12. Factory-built fireplace attachment to the appliance
  13. That the venting system is properly sized for the appliance
  14. Height and dimensions of the liner
  15. Installation and condition of offsets in the flue
  16. That the unused openings (into the flue) are properly sealed
  17. Construction of the wash
  18. Expansion joint between the flue and wash
  19. Condition of the flashing
  20. Condition of crickets, when present
  21. Chimney connector or vent connector gauge (material thickness)
  22. That the chimney diameter is proper for the appliance connected
  23. That the vent connector diameter is proper for the appliance connected
  24. That the wall pass through is properly installed with adequate clearance and installation details
  1. Chimney or vent connector configuration (appropriate dimensions for sizing and compared with vent or chimney)
  2. Manifold sizing
  3. Combustion air supplied for fireplaces in accordance with Section 11.4 of NFPA 211
  4. Conditions of the outside air inlets in accordance with Section 11.4 of NFPA 211
  5. Conditions of the outlets in accordance with Section 11.4 of NFPA 211
  6. Conditions of the ducting in accordance with Section 11.4 of NFPA 211
  7. Ash dump
  8. Combustible framing/forms under hearth or hearth extensions of masonry fireplaces
  9. Fireplace opening size (ratio with flue) of masonry fireplaces
  10. Size of throat of masonry fireplaces
  11. Smoke chamber dimensions (angle/height) of masonry fireplaces
  12. Smoke chamber lining (parged, firebrick, etc.) of masonry fireplaces
  13. Smoke shelf area of masonry fireplaces
  14. Factory-built fireplace brand, model, and listing
  15. That the factory-built fireplace glass doors and accessories (inserted items) are approved
  16. Factory-built fireplace hearth platform and covering

Review

Once we have pictures, video, and filled out the condition report, we meet with you. This is to go over everything with you so that you can understand the full condition of your chimney. 

If there is anything that you should be concerned about, your technician will discuss his or her recommendation to fix it. After the recommendation, we will send a proposal for the work via email within the next 24 hours.

It all starts with seamless scheduling, then moves to the actual inspection, and a review of it all with your technician.

So, How Much is a Level 2 Inspection in Roanoke, Lynchburg, or Blacksburg?

Prices per company may vary. But a Level 1 inspection is always included in the price for a Level 2 Inspection. Also, if anything was uncovered in your inspection and you choose to accept the proposal that we send to you, we’ll refund the price of the inspections.

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