Fireplace / Hearth Inspections
We believe hearth inspections are best performed
by individuals who carry all three industry certifications and continue to educate themselves with the ever changing knowledge
available within the industry. The “F.I.R.E. Certified Inspector credential," is aimed
specifically at the inspection, requiring
48 hours of both hands on and classroom training. The "CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep Credential," exposes students
to a foundation of education relating to the overall job function of being a chimney sweep. This job function includes awareness
of the industry standard regarding hearth inspections, service, repair of hearth systems and health safety practices in performing
these tasks. The "NFI
Certified Specialist credential," test
on detailed knowledge of appliance placement,
fuel source knowledge and further awareness
of the necessity of hearth inspections as it relates to the installation of modern hearth appliances. The inspection and evaluation
of chimneys is an important service offered by Brooks Chimney Sweeping. Chimney inspections come in many forms and you should
be aware that not all inspections are alike. At Brooks Chimney Sweeping, we follow the National Fire Protection Association
(NFPA) required inspection procedures.
It is important to point out that NFPA has no qualification mandated for whom can perform inspections. This being
said, its best to contract with the most professional, educated, informed and well represented inspector in your area.
NFPA divides the inspection procedure into three categories,
or levels. The circumstances which give rise to the inspection determine what level of inspection is to be conducted. 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 offered during each chimney sweeping.
Level I 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 replaced with a
similar appliance during chimney 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.
|Misaligned flue tiles.
Level II Inspection
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 event likely to have caused damage to the chimney, such as a chimney fire or other sudden occurrence
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
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
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.
|Severely cracked flue liner.
Level III Inspection
A Level III inspection is
the most detailed of all of the inspection types and includes inspection of 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.
|Extreme result of a flue fire.
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,
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.
A video scan is where we use a camera system which
is lowered into the chimney (or pushed up from the bottom). The camera allows us to inspect the chimney from a range of just
a few inches instead of just looking from the top or bottom. The camera image is viewed on a TV monitor by the inspector.
Video inspections may be recommended if the customer or sweep suspect certain problems. Video inspections are often recommended
after a chimney fire or some other form of damage to a chimney, and are a routine part of a Level II or Level III inspection.
You should be aware that even the most thorough inspection will not reveal all problems. Some areas
of a chimney simply are not assessable due to construction of the house. Be sure to discuss any specific concerns with your
service technician. The recommended inspection technique will often be based on your comments and concerns. Our technicians
are trained to perform the appropriate level of inspection based upon the use of the chimney and any performance problems
or safety concerns using the NFPA 211 as our standard.
Brooks Chimney Sweeping has an inspector certified by FIRE,
CSIA and NFI.