Here are the basic components of a chimney. Be sure to ask your contractor for details about any special consideration in your chimney's setup.
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Being aware of these chimney maintenance items can help prolong the life of your home's chimney.
Industry experts recommend an annual inspection and cleaning as needed, generally every year or two depending on how much use the fireplace gets.
Most all professional chimney sweeps now utilize the National Fire Protection 211 Standard for chimneys, fireplaces , Vents and solid fuel-burning appliances for chimney inspections, which determines when and whether he has to access the roof.
There are 3 levels of inspection The most commonly performed are Level 1 and level 2 are listed:
Level 1 Done as Annual Inspection
Routine cleaning of the flue
Direct replacement of a similar appliance
Level 1 inspection is recommended for a chimney under continued service under the same conditions with the continued use of the same appliance.
IN A Level 1 inspection, your chimney service tech should examine the *READILY ACCESSIBLE portions of the appliance and the chimney connection. HE will be looking for basic Soundness of the chimney structure and flue as well as the basic appliance installations and connections. HE will also Verify that the chimney is free of obstruction and combustible deposits.
* Readily accessible Means that no special equipment is required to gain such access, ie.Ladder
LEVEL 2 Upon sale or transfer of a property
After an operating malfunction or an external event is likely to have caused damage to the chimney
Addition or removal of one or more connected appliances, or the replacement of an appliance withone of a different type, a different input rting or a different efficiency.
Prior to relining or replacement of the flue lining
Level 2 insp. are required when any changes are made to the system. Changes can include a change of Fuel Type, changes in shape or material in the flue,Replacement or addition of an appliance of a disimilar type, input rating or efficiency. Building fires, chimney fire or other seismic events as well as weather events or obvious construction defects would be indicators that a level 2 is warranted.
Level 2 includes everything in a level 1 PLUS the *Accessible portions of the chimney exterior and interior including attic, crawl spaces and basements. it addresses proper clearances from combustible in accessible locations.There are no speciality tools required to open or access doors, panels, or coverings during a level 2 insp. The level 2 insp should also include the visual inspection by video scanning equipment or by other means in order to examine the internaql surfaces and joints of all the flue liners inside the chimney structure. No removal or demolition or any permrnantely attached portions of the chimney or building structure or finish shall be required in a level 2 insp.
*ACCESSIBLE means if you can get to it with special equipment do it but you dont have to take apart anything for said access. Use of ladders and cameras just no demolition.
LEVEL 3 SEE NFPA 211 STANDARD FOR DETAILS
***THE REAL ANSWER to this question lies with the accessibility of the top of the chimney and roof type. Most professional sweeps want to examine up close the top of the chimney for cracked masonry crowns , which is very common, Flashing issues, top view down flue, and for prefab chimneys to insp the condition of the Chase cover and cap.
Note that the use of a special tool (ladder) to gain access to the chimney is under a level 2 inspection, which can be additional costs since it is a much more thorough inspection.
It is possible to sweep and do a level 1 insp. without accessing the roof.
Also most professional sweeps have equipment that allows us to sweep the chimney with a rotary system that is operated from inside at the fireplace opening and achieve a much better cleaning than pushing brushes down from the top and without getting on the roof. We also video scan the flue from the hearth so the homeowner can be a part of that inspection or "chimney-oscopy". They see the live action of the top of the chimney and conditions that exist inside their system so when they get their report they know they are not some stock pics that could be used to sell repairs but the actual pics of the conditions they viewed in their system. And we do not have to access the roof.
If the chimney access requires multiple ladders or is a "brush with death", there could be extra cost, and the sweep would make an onsite decision regarding the ability to safely reach the top of the chimney or have to use a lesser option of binoculars or rely on experience to determine whats going on up top based on visible symptoms, if access is too dangerous or not possible.
So don't discount a sweeps knowledge or ability on whether he gets on the roof or not. Check him out on referral sites , company web site, credentials, training and experience. Get referals and check on liability insurance and you should be able to find a sweep that can meet your need. If you are in North Carolina check us out at ClassicChimney.com. For the last 25 years we have been sweeping and inspecting chimneys, certified formerly by the CSIA for 15 years and current member of the NC Guild. give us a call 9197822879
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