The short answer is safety. Your expert technician will investigate any problems there may be with the chimney that could be hazardous to you or your family.
During an annual inspection, your technician will look for buildup and blockages and then sweep to correct any problems that affect your fireplace’s performance.
There are three levels of chimney inspection as delineated by the National Fire Protection Association. The NFPA developed the levels as recently as 30 years ago to give professionals some guidance on the depth of inspection needed for different situations. For example, an inspection that only requires a routine sweep won’t look the same as one in which alterations to the fireplace or chimney are warranted.
Level 1 Inspection
A technician conducts a level 1 inspection when no changes have been made to the chimney or fireplace since the last annual inspection. At this level, the technician checks the readily accessible parts of the chimney’s exterior and interior with a flashlight. There are no special tools, and the technician doesn’t get up on the roof.
Your technician will look to ensure the chimney is structurally sound and check for any blockages or large creosote deposits. He or she will also look at the fireplace to make sure it’s been installed correctly and connected to the chimney. If the chimney requires sweeping, he or she will use extension poles, brushes, and a vacuum to clean it.
Level 2 Inspection
You’ll need a level 2 inspection if:
- you’ve made any significant changes to your fireplace
- a significant weather event has occurred, like a hurricane or tornado
- there’s been an earthquake
- you’ve purchased a home with a fireplace
A level 2 inspection consists of all of the steps from level 1 and a visit to the attic, roof, and crawlspace. No demolition tools are needed at this level, but your technician will use video scanning to look at the inside of your chimney. He or she will sweep the chimney and inform you if you need to make any repairs.
Level 3 Inspection
A level 3 inspection is the most invasive. Your technician will recommend a level 3 inspection if he or she finds something potentially dangerous during a level 1 or 2 inspection. The technician will need specialized tools at this level to remove parts of the chimney, such as the interior chimney wall or crown, to gain access to places that couldn’t otherwise be seen. A level 3 inspection will only be necessary if your technician suspects a serious problem.
It is critical to have a professional inspect your chimney at least annually. This will help to ensure the safety of your home and your loved ones and will also promote the optimal functioning of your fireplace and chimney. A fireplace is an asset to any home. Why not get the most from it with an annual inspection?