If you’ve heard it from one sweep, you’ve heard it from a hundred… annual chimney inspections are essential to good chimney health! And if you’ve already got your regular inspection booked, then the hard part’s over. All that’s left to do is sit back and wait for your qualified chimney tech to look things over.

two techs chimney inspection

But what exactly can you expect once the sweep shows up? Here’s some insight into our process here at Clean Sweep of Anne Arundel County (along with a few tips for you to ensure the process goes as smoothly and seamlessly as possible).

Appointment Tips for the Homeowner

Before we get into the inspection process, let’s go over a big question we commonly face – what do you, as a homeowner, need to do to prepare for our visit? First things first, we ask that you stop using your fireplace, wood stove or gas appliance a full 24 hours before your scheduled appointment time. Why is this? Basically, it ensures everything will be 100% cooled down, guaranteeing safety for our employees.

Then, sometime before the appointment, we ask that you clear any breakable or valuable items and furniture away from the fireplace. We need about 6 feet of clearance space to do our job effectively. We also protect the area where are working with clean drop cloths to protect your hard wood floors or carpet.

The 3 Levels of Inspections

Believe it or not, there are 3 different types of inspections that can be performed on your chimney. And as CSIA-Certified Chimney Specialists, we know the ins and outs of them all! Here’s the low-down on what to expect from each:

  • Level 1: A level 1 inspection will be your more basic overview. This is done on systems that always receive an annual inspection and aren’t known for producing any issues for the homeowner. If your chimney is consistently in good health, and if you haven’t changed fuel types or done any reconstruction or renovation work in the recent past, then this is all you should need! The sweep will look at all readily accessible areas, ensure you don’t have dangerous levels of creosote or soot, and check if your structure is sound for the upcoming burning season.
  • Level 2: Level 2 inspections are where the internal camera equipment comes in. Our chimney specialists use this technology to get a full, in-depth look at where your chimney stands. When are these inspections done? After remodels/renovations, after a chimney fire, when buying/selling property, after a natural disaster, or after any event that may have caused damage to the system.
  • Level 3: Level 3 inspections are far less common, so in most cases you won’t ever need to worry about scheduling one. Basically, if your sweep does a level 2 inspection and it doesn’t reveal the cause of the issues you are experiencing, components of the system will need to be removed or demoed in order to figure out what’s going on.

Now, while level 1 inspections don’t typically call for the use of camera equipment, we hold ourselves to a different standard. We feel there’s simply no better way to get that in-depth analysis than by getting a full 360 degree picture of your flue interior, so we’ll always perform this step, regardless of the inspection type.

How long does an inspection from our team typically take? We ask homeowners to set aside around an hour to an hour and a half out of their day. This guarantees we have ample time to ensure your fireplace is operating as safely and as efficiently as possible.

Inspections Vary Based on Your System

Now, we inspect masonry fireplaces, factory built units, furnaces and boilers, wood stove inserts, free-standing stoves gas fireplaces and gas inserts so it’s important to note that your inspection will vary a bit based on the system we’re dealing with.

When it comes to masonry fireplaces, we’ll inspect the hearth extension, firebox, lintel, smoke chamber, damper, and the chimney flue liner. Like we’ve said before, the liner is viewed with a camera that can turn all the way around to get an up close look at it all. Then we’ll move to the exterior – that includes, brickwork, mortar joints, flashing, the crown, and the cap.

Is it a factory-built system we’re looking at? Again those high-tech cameras will be used! We’ll also check out the firebox, damper, flue liner exhaust, exterior venting system, chase cap, chimney cap, and flashing.

Wood stove inserts and the free-standing wood stoves include inspections of the appliance, firebox, heat exchanger, catalytic combustor, gaskets, hearth extensions, connector pipes, flue liner exhaust, exterior venting system, brickwork, mortar joints, chimney crown, cap, and flashing. And those cameras? We use those here, too!

For the masonry fireplaces, the prefabricated units, the wood stove inserts, and the free-standing wood stoves, we’ll brush out any normal residue  and vacuum with our specialized HEPA-Vacs for mess.Have a gas appliance system? No worries! Our NFI Gas Certified Chimney Specialist will conduct a thorough inspection such as combustible clearances, carbon monoxide, leak and pressure, burner, thermocouples, thermopiles, standing pilot light or ignition removal and cleaning of gas logs, and inspect vent system inside using the internal camera.

Finally, if you have a furnace or boiler, we inspect the connector pipe, thimble, and flue liner, as well as sweep out any normal residue and vacuum with our specialized Hepa-Vacs for no mess.

And the best part about work with our professional crew is that we won’t leave you confused or lost about the state of your system. We’ll review our report with you in detail, ensuring any questions or inquiries are answered throughout the process. You’ll see the pictures we took and hear our insight about the next appropriate steps to take. We can even e-mail the report when we’re through!

Still Have Questions? Reach Out to Our Team

When it comes to operating and maintaining a fireplace, stove, or insert, being knowledgeable and informed is imperative to customer safety. That’s why we always encourage customers to ask our CSIA-Certified Specialists their burning questions! (No pun intended.)

In the end, we want you to have good experiences with our industry and have the ability to enjoy your system as safely and as comfortably as possible. Reach out at 410-590-4800 to speak with an expert today!