Until recently, the scope of work performed in the inspection or evaluation
of a fireplace, stove or other venting system was generally up to
the discretion of the chimney service technician. Professional service
technicians now have an industry standard that removes much of that
"discretion." The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
has addressed the minimum chimney inspection standards in its latest
publication (NFPA 211) concerning home heating appliances.
Inspections are now classified as Level 1 , Level
2 or Level 3 . Each level of inspection covers specific items depending
on the individual appliance and venting system. Below is an explanation
of the three levels of inspections and what services your chimney
service technician should provide for each level.
Level 1 inspections - If your
appliance or your venting system has not changed and you plan to
use your system as you have in the past, then a Level 1 inspection
is a minimum requirement. A Level 1 inspection is recommended for
a chimney under continued service, under the same conditions, and
with the continued use of the same appliance. In a Level 1 inspection,
your chimney service technician should examine the readily accessible**
portions of the chimney exterior, interior and accessible* portions
of the appliance and the chimney connection. Your technician will
be looking for the basic soundness of the chimney structure and
flue as well as the basic appliance installation and connections.
The technician will also verify the chimney is free of obstruction
and combustible deposits.
Level 2 Inspections –A
Level 2 inspection is required when any changes are made to the
system. Changes can include a change in the fuel type, changes to
the shape of, or material in, the flue (i.e. relining), or the replacement
or addition of an appliance of a dissimilar type, input rating or
efficiency. Additionally, a Level 2 inspection is required upon
the sale or transfer of a property or after an operation malfunction
or external event that is likely to have caused damage to the chimney.
Building fires, chimney fires, seismic events as well as weather
events are all indicators that this level of inspection is warranted.
A Level 2 inspection is a more in-depth inspection than a Level
1 inspection.– When a Level 1 or Level 2 inspection suggests
a hidden hazard and the evaluation cannot be performed without special
tools to access concealed areas of the chimney or flue, a Level
3 inspection is recommended. A Level 3 inspection addresses the
proper construction and the condition of concealed portions of the
chimney structure and the flue. Removal or destruction, as necessary,
of permanently attached portions of the chimney or building structure
will be required for the completion of a Level 3 inspection. –
A Level 3 inspection includes all the areas and items checked in
a Level 1 and a Level 2 inspection, as well as the removal of certain
components of the building or chimney where necessary. Removal of
components (i.e., chimney crown, interior chimney wall) shall be
required only when necessary to gain access to areas that are the
subject of the inspection. When serious hazards are suspected, a
Level 3 inspection may well be required to determine the condition
of the chimney system.
A Level 2 inspection includes everything in a
Level 1 inspection, plus the accessible portions of the chimney
exterior and interior including attics, crawl spaces and basements.
It will address proper clearances from combustibles in accessible
There are no specialty tools (i.e. demolition
equipment) required to open doors, panels or coverings in performing
a Level 2 inspection. A Level 2 inspection shall also include a
visual inspection by video scanning or other means in order to examine
the internal surfaces and joints of all flue liners incorporated
within the chimney. No removal or destruction of permanently attached
portions of the chimney or building structure or finish shall be
required by a Level 2 inspection.