A house on fire

5 Things to consider when hiring a Chimney Sweep

A house ablaze due to a chimney fireImagine watching the local evening news that shows a story of a hapless victim of a chimney fire, resulting in a house burned to the ground. It makes you realize that it’s been far too long since you had your own chimney looked at, and you make a mental note to call a chimney sweep to set up an appointment. The next morning, you get on the internet to search for a chimney sweep and you realize that you don’t even know what to look for.

Many people aren’t aware that in most of the United States, there are absolutely no regulations on the chimney sweeping trade. This means that anybody can go out and claim they’re a chimney sweep and start a business. They may know little or nothing about chimneys, so it’s imperative to hire a chimney sweep company that has been specifically trained and is experienced with chimneys and fireplaces. Your family’s lives, pets and belongings may depend on hiring a qualified chimney sweep.

So what do you consider when hiring a chimney sweep? Certainly not someone dressed like Dick Van Dyke from Mary Poppins!

What to consider in finding a qualified Chimney Sweep

Certification

There are a number of chimney sweep certifications in the U.S. but by far thLogo that reads "Certified Chimney Sweep"e most mainstream is the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). To become certified, an individual is required to take a test every three years based on the International Residential Code, the National Fire Protection Association 211 Manual, the Successful Chimney Sweeping Manual, and then sign a strict code of ethics. To find a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep, go to the CSIA website at www.csia.org and put in your zip code in the upper left corner. It will then provide you with a comprehensive list of all the CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps within a 50-mile radius.

General Liability Insurance

Whether it’s a tree removal company, a plumber or a chimney sweep, make sure that any contractor working on your property always carries general liability insurance. Ask to see the proof of insurance. This is for your protection as a homeowner. As an example, if a tree removal company chops down a tree and it lands on your neighbor’s roof, if that contractor doesn’t have insurance, guess who pays for the damage to your neighbor’s roof? YOU!

State Contractor’s License

In California, any work that amounts to $500 or more (labor and materials) requires a contractor’s license. This protects the homeowner. Find out the statusLogo for the California State Licensing Board of a contractor’s license by going to the California State Licensing Board website at www.cslb.ca.gov. You can check the license by license number, contractor’s name or name of the business. An average chimney sweeping service falls well short of the $500 limit, but if the chimney sweep performs any repairs, it could exceed that limit and it’s best to know in advance. The contractor’s license also adds to the legitimacy of the business.

References by friends, family, or co-workers

One of the best ways to find a reputable chimney sweep company is word of mouth. Find out from your friends, family or co-workers if they were happy with the chimney sweep they’ve used, but be sure to follow up by checking the status of their certification, insurance, and contractor’s license.

Reviews and Reports about the Company

Check out the company’s reputation on Yelp at www.yelp.com, Angie’s List at www.angieslist.com or Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org. If you see a lot of bad reviews, it’s best to go to the next company on the list.

Caveat Emptor – Phone Scams

This is Latin for “Let the Buyer Beware” and this is especially true for any homebuyer who receives a phone call from someone, anyone, who calls you on the phone to solicit your business. You have absolutely no way of knowing who is actually calling you. Even though you are on the Do Not Call Registry at www.donotcall.gov, that won’t stop an unscrupulous company from lying to you and convincing you that they are your chimney sweep company and it’s time for a chimney sweep. We’ve even had these unscrupulous companies call our loyal customers. Our customers have even responded by saying that they use our company and these unscrupulous companies have said that we were no longer in business. Remember: NEVER do business with anybody who calls you on the phone!  And this rule of thumb doesn’t just apply to a chimney sweep service.

In conclusion…

Spending a few minutes of extra effort will ensure that you find the right chimney sweep company and that your house won’t end up on the local evening news!

For more information about our chimney and dryer vent services, please visit our website at www.SwedeSweep.com

Written by Terri Pocock

Terri and her husband, Rick, are the owners of Swede Chimney Sweep & Dryer Vent Cleaning in San Diego, California since 1994. Terri is just one of a small handful of women in California who is a F.I.R.E. Certified Technician as well as a Certified Dryer Exhaust Technician through the Chimney Safety Institute of America. Swede Chimney Sweep & Dryer Vent Cleaning – 858/573-1672

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9 thoughts on “5 Things to consider when hiring a Chimney Sweep

  1. Thanks for this helpful post on things to consider when hiring a chimney sweep. I have never lived in a home with a chimney before, so I really don’t know how to handle my new house which has one. I will be sure to look for a certification when hiring someone to clean my chimney. I also will ask around at work to see if anyone has a good reference. Thanks for the help!

  2. My brother recently moved into an older home. He noticed that the chimney is very dirty, and he wants to ensure the safety of his family by hiring a professional chimney cleaning service. I didn’t realize how important it is to choose a company that has general liability insurance to ensure you’re covered should an accident occur. I’ll be sure my brother knows about this consideration.

    1. Your brother can find a qualified chimney sweep by going through the Chimney Safety Institute of America at http://www.csia.org . Enter the zip code in the search box at the top and it’ll give him a list of all of the CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps from closest to furthest away within a 50-mile radius.

  3. I agree with you that it is better to hire a professional chimney sweep because they know a lot about chimneys and fireplaces that ordinary residents do not. It has been a while since I last had the chimney cleaned, and I’m really afraid of starting a fire. I don’t want to lose our home this winter season. I think it’s for the best to hire a chimney sweep as soon as I can. Thanks!

    1. I totally agree with you about hiring a professional to have your chimney swept. Also if it’s been a while, you should have it inspected before you start using it. Be sure to use a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep. You can find one at http://www.csia.org .

      Keep in mind that you’re calling during the busy season when many of the reputable chimney sweeps can be booked up for weeks (or months) in advance.

  4. I like that you mention getting personal recommendations from friends and family when looking for a chimney cleaning service. By asking people you know and trust, you can save yourself a lot of time. It’s worth the effort to make sure that you hire the right people to do the job.

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