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Important Information on Chimney Inspections!
Home Home Home Improvement
By: C. Michael Hunter Email Article
Word Count: 750 Digg it | it | Google it | StumbleUpon it


It is essential to keep fireplaces and chimney flues in good working condition to prevent any problems with the interior ventilation system. The primary function of a chimney or flue is to serve as a passageway for the by-products from a household heating system as these by-products are extremely hazardous to the occupant’s health because of the poisonous gases produced. One of the hazardous substances is carbon monoxide, which can cause several respiratory problems. To be protected against such noxious substances, regular inspections and proper maintenance must be performed on any ventilation system to ensure its integrity and functionality.

Importance of Chimney Inspections

Inspections must be done regularly to be able to assess the structural integrity of a ventilation system, maintain liners, remove obstructions, get rid of creosote deposits, promote airflow, and check for draft control. The flue should be cleaned regularly to prevent any future damage and to ensure that it conforms to the recommended building codes and other safety standards regulating the proper design and installation of these systems. Over time, soot and creosote build up, hampering the normal flow of hazardous gases to the outside. If this happens, any by-products of the heating system such as carbon monoxide will be trapped inside the house and put household members in serious danger.

Additionally, creosote and soot are highly flammable substances, especially when exposed to extreme heat. They should be completely cleaned from the chimney or flue to avoid the creation of a fire hazard. Regardless of the type of chimneys in the home, it is important that a periodic check-up be performed before using the fireplace to avoid significant damage including the loss of life and property.

Levels of Inspection

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has established three (3) different levels of inspection.

  • Level One – This is the most common type of inspection. During this process, readily accessible portions of the chimney structure and flues are examined. No significant tools are used to gain access. Flues are checked for obstructions and the nature and volume of combustible deposits are identified.
  • Level Two – According to the NFPA, any alteration of fuel types; the flue lining; or any addition or replacement of appliances using fuel calls for a level two inspection. At this level, the inspector needs to gain access to various parts of the chimney structure through the roof, basement, attic or crawlspaces. Common hand tools and ladders, as well as some specialized tools such as video scanners are utilized to access and visualize difficult areas.
  • Level Three – This type of inspection is necessary for non-accessible areas of the structure if potential hazards are suspected. Non-accessible areas are locations that are difficult to reach without damaging or removing some portions of the chimney and is done to reveal those concealed places. This inspection level should be thoroughly discussed with the owner before it is done.

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  • C. Michael Hunter is an expert in residential and commercial roofing. To find out more about Houston Roofing Contractors, go to the main website at:

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