In accordance with CSIA (Chimney Safety Institute of America) standards, Wooden Sun highly recommends a Level II (video scan) Sweep & Inspection for all new customers and for customers who are selling their home, have had a chimney fire or if the certified chimney sweep recommends this service. We sometimes have customers ask us why a Level I visual inspection (an assessment by one of our certified technicians from both above and below, with the aid of a powerful flashlight) doesn’t meet the industry’s highest standards for chimney safety, or show us a recent building inspector’s report certifying that the flue liners are in good condition.
The difficulty here is that, although a visual inspection will catch obvious damage to your tiles within a couple of feet at the top and bottom of the flue, even a highly-trained chimney sweep or building inspector can miss hairline cracks in a flue tile, especially if those cracks occur towards the middle of the flue. As discussed in our HeatShield post back in March, even small cracks in your terra cotta flue tiles can allow heat, sparks, and combustion gasses to escape into your home, putting you, your family, and your house at risk. In a vid-scan, our chimney technicians lower a special camera down your chimney, rotating it to get a full 360° view of the inside of your flue. This allows us to see small cracks in your flue tiles or missing mortar joints between them. We can then recommend any repairs required, before the flue tiles can degrade to the point that would require a full relining of your chimney.
Even if you have a factory-built or class A chimney, a Level II vid-scan can still be useful to you. These chimneys are put together in sections, and some brands and styles are less secure than others (Wooden Sun uses Ventis chimney components, which are held together at each joint with screws, but some brands are held together with a twist-lock system, which is less secure). A chimney sweep using improper equipment can damage these joints. A gap between chimney sections will have the same effect as a missing mortar joint in a flue tile, only a factory-built chimney is usually surrounded by wood framing, rather than brick or stone.
Bottom line: even a small crack or gap in your chimney or flue can be dangerous, and sometimes the damage is difficult to observe from the top or bottom of the chimney. Following industry safety standards, Wooden Sun recommends getting a video scan at least every two years, to make sure you’re aware of any potential problems in your chimney before they have a chance to become major hazards to your health and the health of your home.