What’s the difference between chimney levels of inspection?

These levels are the standard by which all reputable, certified chimney service companies do business.

When buying a home in the Capital District the requirements of all three levels of chimney inspection have been outlined by the National Fire Protection Association Standard NFPA 211. Inspection needs will vary depending on the situation.


A Level I chimney inspection covers all readily accessible portions of the exterior and interior and the accessible portions of appliance and chimney connections. A Level I inspection does not include a video scan but you can choose to add this option for a more thorough evaluation of a fireplace or furnace flue system.


If you are buying or selling a home, installing a hearth appliance, or relining a chimney flue the NFPA recommends a Level II inspection. Inspection requirements for purchasing a new home are different for each transaction but it is highly recommended that the chimney be thoroughly inspected to avoid costly repairs later. Most home inspectors do not have the expertise to evaluate the condition of the chimney. A Level II inspection covers all accessible portions of the chimney interior and exterior including areas within accessible attics, crawl spaces, and basements and includes inspection by video scanning.


Hopefully you will never need this degree of inspection because it is designed to uncover structural damage or problems in concealed areas of the chimney. A Level III inspection is usually called for if there is damage to your home because of a chimney fire or a severe storm, this includes lightning damage, wind damage and earthquakes. If we can’t determine the safety of the system by doing a Level I or Level II inspection then a Level III will be recommended.


It’s imperative to have the right inspections done so that the homeowner knows the potential hazards and risks associated with using their fireplace or appliance. Remember that a Level I chimney inspection will often miss any damage of the interior chimney flue, because a flashlight cannot look horizontally at the flue tile gaps or potential cracks. If you have never had a Level II chimney inspection we highly recommend it, since most chimneys have been ignored for far too long and as always, chimneys like all things change over time.