Chimney Inspection

An HVAC or HVAC Hearth Specificity license is required to connect, install and vent hearth appliances in Idaho. According to the NFPA to be a Qualified Agency to inspect chimneys and venting systems in Idaho, an HVAC or HVAC Hearth Specificity license should be required. Ask your chimney sweep for their HVAC license number.

The national standard for chimney sweeps and my standard of care is the NFPA 211: Standard for Chimneys, Fireplaces, Vents, and Solid Fuel-Burning Appliances. This standard tells us explicitly who can conduct inspections, what to inspect and at what level of inspection.

15.1* General. Inspections shall be conducted by a qualified agency.

A Qualified Agency is defined as:

3.3.111 Qualified Agency. Any individual, firm, corporation, or company that, either in person or through a representative, is engaged in and is responsible for the connection, venting, installation, inspection, repair, or servicing of heat-producing appliances and who is experienced in such work, is familiar with all precautions required, and has complied with all the requirements of the AHJ.

To inspect chimneys, fireplaces and/or wood burning appliances you must be a Qualified Agency. To be a Qualified Agency to inspect chimneys in Idaho you should have an HVAC or HVAC Hearth Specificity license – it is required to pull permits and install wood burning equipment.

The International Fuel Gas Code, the International Mechanical Code and International Residency Code are the building codes used in Idaho.

Chimneys, fireplaces, solid fuel burning and gas burning (wood, pellet, gas, oil, etc…) appliances need to be inspected when they are installed to insure proper installation and annually thereafter.

13.1 Initial Installation. Initial installation of chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall allow inspection of the surroundings to determine that the required clearances have been maintained and that correct provisions for support, stabilization, future inspection, and maintenance are in place.

A disconnected metal inner flue pipe found during annual maintenance.

A disconnected metal inner flue pipe found during annual maintenance.

Chapter 13.1 says, in a nutshell, that upon installation the appliance (factory built fireplace, wood stove, pellet stove, gas fireplace, etc…) and/or chimney shall be inspected.

13.2 Annual Inspection. Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year in accordance with the requirements of Section 14.3.

Exception: Type B and Type BW gas venting systems.

Chapter 13.2 says, in a nutshell, annual inspections for  (factory built fireplace, wood stove, pellet stove, gas fireplace, etc…) are required. Annual inspections are not required for type B and type BW chimneys. Type B vents are vents/chimneys that are listed and used for gas appliances only, type BW vents are specialty vents for use with specific gas heaters where required by the manufacturer.

13.2.2 Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary.

Chapter 13.2.2 says just what it says: if the chimney is dirty or damaged it shall be cleaned and/or repaired.

14.1* General. Inspections shall be conducted by a qualified agency.

Armour Chimney Service is a qualified agency. We are qualified due to our nationally recognized credentials: We are a CSIA certified chimney sweep and F.I.R.E. Certified chimney and fireplace inspector.

Required air spaces in the chimney system were blocked nearly leading to an attic fire. One fire away...

Required air spaces in the chimney system were blocked nearly leading to an attic fire.

Required air spaces in the chimney system were blocked nearly leading to an attic fire. One fire away...

Required air spaces in the chimney system were blocked nearly leading to an attic fire.

Chimney flue cut by a "chimney installer" caused a structure fire.

Chimney flue cut by a “chimney installer” caused a structure fire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Levels of Inspection

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 211: Standard for Chimneys, Fireplaces, Vents and Solid Fuel Burning Appliances

Level 1 inspections – If your appliance or your venting system has not changed and you plan to use your system as you have in the past, then a Level 1 inspection is a minimum requirement. A Level 1 inspection is recommended for a chimney under continued service, under the same conditions, and with the continued use of the same appliance. In a Level 1 inspection, your chimney service technician should examine the readily accessible** portions of the chimney exterior, interior and accessible* portions of the appliance and the chimney connection. Your technician will be looking for the basic soundness of the chimney structure and flue as well as the basic appliance installation and connections. The technician will also verify the chimney is free of obstruction and combustible deposits.

Level 2 Inspections –A Level 2 inspection is required when any changes are made to the system. Changes can include a change in the fuel type, changes to the shape of, or material in, the flue (i.e. relining), or the replacement or addition of an appliance of a dissimilar type, input rating or efficiency. Additionally, a Level 2 inspection is required upon the sale or transfer of a property or after an operation malfunction or external event that is likely to have caused damage to the chimney. Building fires, chimney fires, seismic events as well as weather events are all indicators that this level of inspection is warranted. A Level 2 inspection is a more in-depth inspection than a Level 1 inspection.– When a Level 1 or Level 2 inspection suggests a hidden hazard and the evaluation cannot be performed without special tools to access concealed areas of the chimney or flue, a Level 3 inspection is recommended. A Level 3 inspection addresses the proper construction and the condition of concealed portions of the chimney structure and the flue. Removal or destruction, as necessary, of permanently attached portions of the chimney or building structure will be required for the completion of a Level 3 inspection. A Level 2 inspection includes everything in a Level 1 inspection, plus the accessible portions of the chimney exterior and interior including attics, crawl spaces and basements. It will address proper clearances from combustibles in accessible locations.

There are no specialty tools (i.e. demolition equipment) required to open doors, panels or coverings in performing a Level 2 inspection. A Level 2 inspection shall also include a visual inspection by video scanning or other means in order to examine the internal surfaces and joints of all flue liners incorporated within the chimney. No removal or destruction of permanently attached portions of the chimney or building structure or finish shall be required by a Level 2 inspection.

Level 3 Inspections – A Level 3 inspection includes all the areas and items checked in a Level 1 and a Level 2 inspection, as well as the removal of certain components of the building or chimney where necessary. Removal of components (i.e., chimney crown, interior chimney wall) shall be required only when necessary to gain access to areas that are the subject of the inspection. When serious hazards are suspected, a Level 3 inspection may well be required to determine the condition of the chimney system.

 

 

 

 

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