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Chimney inspections can vary in their scope and can sometimes be confusing to the homeowner. The National Fire Protection Agency has three Levels of chimney inspection, each level being a different degree of obtrusiveness into aspects of the chimney and venting applications. This page covers the three levels of inspection, what they entail, and which might be appropriate for your circumstances as a homeowner. 

Level 1 Chimney Inspection

A Level 1 inspection is the very minimum requirement for any appliance, chimney, or venting system. NFPA 211 15.3 states: 

A Level I inspection shall be utilized when verification of the suitability of the chimney or flue for continued service, under the same conditions and with the same or similar appliance or appliances, is needed.

In short, if you plan to use your appliance (fireplace, wood/pellet stove, heating system, etc) or venting system (chimney) the way you always have and under the same conditions, a Level 1 inspection will be sufficient. With a Level 1 inspection, you’ll receive an inspection of all the readily available portions of the interior and exterior of your chimney or venting system. During a Level 1 inspection no tools other than basic hand tools (drills, flashlights, cameras, etc) are used in the inspection process. Due to the limited scope of a Level 1 inspection, Chimney Pros rarely performs these inspections. 

Level 2 Chimney Inspection

A Level 2 Inspection is a little more detailed than a Level 1 and requires the use of ladders as well as hand tools. A Level 2 inspection is the standard level of inspection for Chimney Pros. A Level 2 chimney inspection includes all the aspects of a Level 1 inspection but requires the use of ladders and gives a more in depth inspection of the chimney system. A Level 2 inspection is necessary when: 

  • Buying or selling a home or business with a chimney 

  • The chimney survived weather damage or a fire

  • A change has been made to the chimney system (heating system upgrade, installation of wood/gas burning appliance, etc)


Level 3 Chimney Inspection

A Level 3 Inspection is the most obtrusive of all the inspections as it may require the demolition of walls, floor, and/or ceilings to access the chimney for proper inspection. A Level 3 inspection is required only when suspected areas cannot be properly evaluated by a Level 1 or Level 2 inspection. A Level 3 inspection is performed under the following circumstances:

  • Where necessary for the investigation of a building or chimney fire, weather or seismic event, or other incident known to have caused damage to the chimney or building

  • The chimney survived weather damage or a fire

  • Where a hazard detected or suspected as the result of Level 1 or 2 Inspection cannot be fully evaluated without access to concealed areas

While sometimes necessary, Level 3 Inspections are rarely performed due to their possible intrusiveness to the structure of the home. If damage is suspected to a chimney or flue, recommendations can be made for a correction without performing demo work to your home over a suspicion! 



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