Level 1 Chimney Inspection

The last post in this series gave you a bit of history on the life of the chimney sweep and how the standards for chimneys, fireplaces, vents, and solid fuel-burning appliances not only came to be for the betterment of the consumer but also the chimney sweep. Also discussed was the fact that the Levels of Inspection was broken down into 3 distinct levels dependent on the circumstances surrounding the appliance. While this is a mere part of the entire document, it is the one that addresses the existing inspections of residential and commercial chimneys as of 2010.

This post will concentrate on the first level of inspection of this standard and code; however, many ask who determines the circumstances that apply to each level. This would be the person conducting the inspection through communication with the owner or occupant of the property, if available, as well as the condition observed by the trained and certified technician. The scope of the inspection will include areas of the chimney that can be examined with the depth of the inspection appropriate for the current conditions of the chimneys.

Level 1 inspections are done when the circumstances of the fireplace and chimney has not or is not changing. This is continued use of the appliance the way it has always been used as well as no apparent problems indicated by the occupant or seen by the technician. This constitutes “continued service, under the same conditions and with the same or similar appliance”.

Level 1 is always a part of an annual inspection, routine cleaning of the flues, replacement of one or more connected appliances with the same number of appliances of similar type and anytime the technician deems important during a call for any issue in and around the chimney.

All accessible portions of the chimney and accessible portions of the connected appliance and chimney connection will be inspected as well as the exterior of the chimney and any surrounding areas that can be accessed without removal of panels, doors, or coverings. If these areas are open they will be examined.

The chimney flue area that is accessible is also examined for the presence of a continuous flue liner, proper installation, damage or deterioration. The inspection also includes verification that the flue being inspected and any attached appliance is free of combustible deposits, blockage or obstruction including creosote.

Connected appliances, chimney connectors will be examined for proper clearances, floor mounting and protection, damage or deterioration, and observable evidence of operating malfunction as well as proper support and fastening of joints, pitch, and securement to the chimney. Like all other parts, the connectors will be examined for damage, deterioration, internal blockage or obstruction, and freedom from combustible deposits.

All internal surfaces of fireplaces and smoke chambers will be examined for any type of damage and deterioration, combustible deposits and debris as well as evidence of any operating malfunction. Any and all fireplace inserts, stoves, or accessories shall be taken out of the fireplace as necessary to permit such an examination to be completed. This also allows the technician the ability to examine the connecting a fireplace insert or stove to the chimney flue.

Fireplace inserts, stoves, or accessories are not required to be removed if the venting system can be thoroughly cleaned without doing so.

As you can see the Level 1 inspection is a very thorough examination and is the basic inspection that should done every year. This alone will help you and your family sleep safe at night knowing you can use your fireplace as you always have.

When the circumstances change in regard to your appliance, the inspection can and should intensify to further insure your family safety. Part 3 will look at what should be done when these circumstances arise.