The Three Levels of Inspection
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)’s 211 (Standard for Chimneys, Fireplaces, Vents and Solid Fuel Burning
Appliances) is the standard upon which CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps base their services. This new standard now classifies
chimney and venting system inspections into three levels—Level I, Level II or Level III. Each level of inspection has
a specific scope of work and specific criteria.
Level I Inspection
This inspection is recommended
when the chimney and venting system is easily accessible and when the homeowner is planning to maintain its current use. In
general, this the level of inspection performed in most homes. In a Level I inspection a certified chimney sweep verifies
that the chimney structure is sound and that the chimney is free of obstructions and combustible deposits, such as creosote.
Level II Inspection
The addition of a new home heating appliance or a change in the type
of fuel a homeowner is burning requires a Level II inspection. This inspection level is also required upon the sale or transfer
of a property or after an operating malfunction or external event that is likely to have caused damage to the chimney. The
scope of a Level II inspection includes that of the Level I inspection plus the inspection of accessible portions of the attics,
crawl spaces and basements. It may also include a performance test such as a smoke test or a pressure test and possibly an
interior chimney video inspection if recommended by the certified chimney sweep.
Level III Inspection
When a Level I or Level II inspection suggests a hidden hazard and the evaluation cannot be performed without
access to concealed areas, a Level III inspection is recommended. This type of inspection confirms the proper construction
and condition of concealed portions of the chimney structure and the flue. Level III inspections are generally necessary when
investigating an incident that has caused damage to a chimney or building, or where a hazard is detected and suspected.
Both the Chimney Safety Institute of America and the National Fire Protection Association recommend yearly chimney inspections to help prevent fire and carbon monoxide poisonings.