What can I expect at my annual inspection?
When was the last time you had your chimney system inspected by a professional, certified chimney technician? If it’s been more than a year, it’s time to give your chimney company a call.
Industry organizations including the Chimney Safety Institute of America and the Fire Protection Association encourage homeowners to have annual chimney inspections, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the American Lung Association, and lots and lots of other organizations do too.
There’s good reason: Your chimney is carrying a heavy load in your home — having a fire indoors is inherently tricky, so it has to protect surrounding materials from heat, carry and expel dangerous gases and byproducts, and protect itself (and your home’s interior) from the damaging effects of water. The only way you can know that your chimney is holding that weight effectively is to have it professionally inspected, regularly.
When A Chimney Professional Shows Up
If you’re new to chimney system ownership, the inspection process might seem a little daunting. And while it’s a detailed process — designed that way to make sure your technician can find hidden hazards — for homeowners, it really is a painless and clean process.
When you hire CSIA-certified technicians, you’ll have courteous, uniformed professionals taking care of your chimney, trained to thoroughly inspect your system and provide you with all the information you need to use and enjoy your fireplace or stove as safely as possible.
A basic visual inspection
The most basic, or Level 1 inspection, involves visually inspecting all of the readily accessible parts of the interior and exterior of your chimney, from the firebox that holds your fire to the chimney cap that protects the top of your flue. Your technician will check for cracks and other forms of damage, make sure connections are sound, and look at the deposits in your flue to see whether a sweeping is necessary.
To get a closer look into your chimney system, technicians will use a video camera that allows them to see and capture detailed images of the entire flue. With video inspections, you’ll get to see what’s going on in your chimney system, too, so you can have a more thorough understanding of any repairs that are recommended.
Depending on circumstances, chimney professionals might recommend a Level 2 or Level 3 video inspection. Both entail a top-to-bottom examination of the chimney system, but Level 3 is a bit more invasive, with the possible removal of parts of the chimney or structure (which could be anything from a part of a chimney wall to a door or drywall around the fireplace). A Level 3 inspection is necessary when technicians find a potential hazard that needs to be more intensely inspected and addressed. Level 2 inspections are more commonly done — those are recommended when you’ve made a change to your system (like a new flue liner, or a new heating appliance), or if the home is being bought or sold.
Annual chimney inspections are a simple and smart way to make your chimney your home safer, and lots of chimney companies offer reminder programs that let you know as soon as you’re due. Ask yours if they do!