“I never use my fireplace, so I don’t need a sweep or inspection.”
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Code 211, every chimney and venting system should be inspected yearly, regardless of whether or not it’s used regularly. If you do use your chimney each year, flammable and corrosive creosote and soot can build up inside of the flue and need to be removed. If you don’t use your chimney each year, it still needs to be checked for structural integrity, due to the long and brutal winters we have here in Minnesota, and exposure to the elements year round. But different chimneys call for different inspections.
Here at Grand Designs Masonry, Chimney, and Fireplace, we know that inspections are an essential part of chimney maintenance and home safety, which is why we provide all three levels of inspections, as defined by the NFPA. Here’s what you need to know about each:
Level II — Level II inspections are more in-depth, and include a video scan of the entire interior of the chimney flue, as well as a closer look at the chimney structure itself. We’ll check the chimney cap, the crown, the flashing, the masonry of the chimney, the flue liner, the damper, the appliance connection, the smoke chamber, and the firebox for cracks, leaks, damage, and other issues. These inspections are recommended before installing a new liner or new appliance, and when you’ve noticed a change in performance.
Level III — Level III inspections are total evaluations of the chimney, inside and out, including the areas in the attic or basement. These inspections can include some demolition work or removal of nearby walls or other areas, which is why they are primarily performed when a lightning strike, chimney fire, or other sudden occurrence has possibly affected the chimney and there’s no other way of evaluating the damage.