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The Three Levels of Chimney Inspections

With summer finally wrapped up, it is time for the weather to cool down again. Many people are looking ahead to all the changes that happen this time every year, such as the kids going back to school, the colorful scenery, and preparation for the parade of holidays. Some people, specifically homeowners, may be thinking about readying their fireplaces for another cold winter with plenty of burning fires. Experts in the chimney industry strongly encourage having the chimney swept and inspected annually.

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Why Is It Important to Sweep the Chimney?

Sweeping the chimney has two purposes. The first is to find and clear your chimney of anything that may be blocking it. An obstruction, like a bird or squirrel, will hamper the venting capability of your fireplace. As a result, toxic gases will seep into your home and cause a potentially lethal situation. Additionally, chimney sweeps remove creosote buildup from the flue lining of the chimney. Creosote is the tarry product of the combustion of wood, and it happily clings to every surface it touches. Being a carcinogen, creosote creates a wide range of health problems, and it is also highly flammable. As the messy substance builds in the chimney, the risk of a chimney fire grows exponentially. Luckily, a simple chimney sweep every year will take care of these issues.

Why Do I Need an Inspection Too?

Inspections serve a completely different function from chimney sweeps. Inspections involve no cleaning, but rather consist of examining the fireplace and chimney to reveal any serious damages. Your chimney is more than just a pretty structure that spouts smoke. If it has any damaged parts, its function may be compromised, just like the safety of your home and family.

The National Fire Protection Association has stringent inspection rules that all chimney inspection services are required to adhere to. These guidelines are made up of three levels of inspection meant to give you the most accurate inspection based on your specific situation.

The first level is the most simple. If you intend to use your fireplace the same way you have always used it and your venting system is the same as it was for the last inspection, a Level 1 chimney inspection usually suffices. This involved the inspector looking at the “readily accessible” areas of the chimney to check for damage.

The more involved Level 2 inspection is necessary when the type of fuel changes, the flue is relined, the house was recently purchased, or there has been an accidental fire. Inclusive of everything covered by a Level 1 inspection, the Level 2 inspection also looks at more hidden areas of the chimney, such as those in the basement, crawl space, or attic.

When a simpler inspection suggests damage or danger within the structure of the chimney, a Level 3 inspection is in order. This type of inspection involves partial demolition to fully access the chimney structure and check adequately for any hazards.

When you schedule your yearly chimney sweep appointment, also ask to have your chimney inspected. If you live in western Colorado, contact Bulldog Chimney Sweeps for a professional consultation.