How Often Should My Chimney Be Cleaned

Without routinely having your chimney swept, a buildup of soot can soon turn into creosote, which is flammable. When this ignites, you'll have a chimney fire. Many chimney fires that start this way can spread to the roof and home. Furnace flue systems also require cleaning, so it is a good idea to inspect and clean those venting systems at the same time as your chimney, stove or fireplace is being serviced.

Cleaning your chimney removes dangerous creosote, improves draft and eliminates odors. The National Fire Protection Association recommends that chimneys, fireplaces and vents be inspected at least once a year and cleaned as necessary.

Make Sure Your Fireplace is Safe

Chimney inspections are an important service offered by Chimney Masters. We follow National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommended inspection procedures. 

Chimney Inspections

The NFPA divides the inspection procedure into three categories, or levels. A level I inspection is the most basic level of inspection while level II and level III inspections are progressively more detailed and comprehensive. A level I inspection is completed during each chimney cleaning, or sweeping.

Frequency of Inspection:

NFPA recommends that all chimneys, fireplaces and vents be inspected annually. In addition to this requirement, there are other times when chimney and venting systems should be inspected, such as:

  • After any unusual, or sudden occurrence event, such as a chimney fire, lightning strike, or earthquake
  • Prior to purchasing a home with an existing chimney
  • Whenever changes are made to a chimney or vent system, including replacement of connected appliances
  • Prior to major system repairs

You should be aware that even the most thorough inspection may not reveal all problems. Some areas of a chimney simply are not assessable due to construction of the house. Discuss any specific concerns with us and the inspection technique will be based on your comments and concerns. This works similar to a visit to your doctor. Your doctor probably doesn’t do an EKG and take a full set of X-rays during every visit. However, if you tell the doctor you have chest pains he will perform the tests related to that problem.

Levels of Chimney Inspections

  • Level I Inspection
  • Level II Inspection
  • Level III Inspection

A level I inspection is the recommended level when an evaluation of the chimney system for continued service is needed and the conditions of use are not changing.

This could include:

  • Routine or annual evaluations of the venting system.
  • An appliance connected to the system is being replace with a similar appliance.
  • During chimney cleaning or sweeping

A level I inspection is limited to readily accessible portions of the venting system, and accessible portions of the connected appliance(s) and the chimney connection. The inspector will check the readily accessible portions of the chimney, its enclosing structure, and the flue. A level I inspection includes verification that the flue is not blocked or significantly restricted.

A level II inspection is more detailed and thorough than a level I inspection and is the recommended inspection when conditions of use for the appliance or venting system are changing, or when a level I inspection reveals the need for a more detailed inspection. Several instances where a level II inspection is specifically recommended include:

  • Replacement of an appliance with one of dissimilar type, input rating or efficiency
  • Prior to a flue relining
  • Upon sale or transfer of the property
  • After an even likely to have caused damage to the chimney, such as a chimney fire or other sudden occurrence event

A level II inspection includes all of the requirements of a level I inspection as well as the following:

  • Inspection of accessible areas of attics, basements, and crawlspaces
  • Accessible areas of the chimney exterior and interior
  • Accessible portions of the appliance and chimney connection
  • Video scanning, or other thorough inspection, of the flue interior
  • Evaluation of the flue lining to determine that its material and sizing is appropriate for the appliances being served
  • Proper clearance to combustibles in the accessible areas listed above
  • Proper construction and condition of the chimney system in the accessible areas listed above.

While the level II inspection is a rather thorough inspection and requires access to many areas of the building, it does not require removal of permanent parts of the building, such as siding, chase covers or wall coverings.

 

A level III inspection is the most detailed of all the inspection types and includes inspection of the concealed areas of the building. However, examination of concealed areas will be limited to areas reasonably suspected of containing hazards that cannot be evaluated otherwise.

A level III inspection includes all areas covered in a level I and level II inspection, and inspection of concealed areas to investigate known or suspected problems. In as much as certain portions of a level III inspection require destructive action to the building, the inspector will discuss these areas with the building owner prior to the inspection.