The requirements of all three levels of chimney inspection have been outlined by the National Fire Protection Association Standard NFPA 211. This is the standard by which all reputable, certified chimney service companies do business. Inspection needs will vary depending on the situation. The chimney inspection levels are described below:
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 fireplace or furnace flue system.
If you are selling your house, or buying a new one 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.
There is one more level of inspection and that is a Level III. 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 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.