What to Look for When Hiring a Chimney Sweep
If you have a fireplace or wood stove at home, chimney cleaning is crucial to eliminate soot, creosote, and debris that buildup over time. But a chimney sweep does much more than ensure that the flue is clean, working correctly and safe from fire accidents. They also inspect the chimney and its internal components, helping to prevent minor problems from growing into major repairs. There are three levels of inspections as established by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA):
- Level 1: Routine visual inspection when there have been no modifications to the chimney or fuel source since the last examination.
- Level 2: This is a more extensive visual examination of the accessible areas using video equipment when there have been modifications or changes to the chimney system or fuel source. It is also often required as a condition of sale of the property.
- Level 3: An intensive inspection when a potential safety hazard is discovered during a level 1 or 2 inspection that requires the removal of one or more components to inspect an otherwise inaccessible area of the chimney to locate and repair the source of the issue.
Since the safety of your home and family is paramount, there are a few things to look for to make sure you are hiring a competent expert with the right skills and equipment to inspect and clean the chimney safely, efficiently and reliably.
A certified chimney sweep is your assurance that the individual has successfully demonstrated competency in completing established training and recurrent education requirements. Both the CSIA and the National Chimney Sweep Guild (NCSG) are the two independent credentialing organizations in the U.S. Make sure either of these two organizations certifies the chimney sweep that enters your home.
Checking online reviews will help you determine whether you are hiring a reliable, reputable, and trustworthy professional. Read the reviews to find out what previous customers are saying about them. While it is common for any company to have a few negative reviews, if most customers are reporting an overall positive experience, it is an excellent indication that you will have a similarly positive experience.
How long have they been in business? Always look for a company that is experienced and has been in business for several years. Experience means they have worked on a wide range of projects and have in-depth knowledge and techniques to do an excellent job. Also, they should bring professional equipment, including vacuums, brushes, and other specialized tools such as scan cameras to detect holes, cracks, and other potential issues.
The chimney sweep should present a clean and professional appearance, including a clearly marked company vehicle, photo ID, and a clean uniform. They should show up on time, clean up after their work, and take the time to answer any of your questions or concerns.
License and Insurance
For your protection, always hire a licensed and insured chimney professional. The company should have a valid business license to operate in your jurisdiction. The company should also carry liability and workmen’s compensation insurance. Remember, if you hire an uninsured contractor, you could be liable for any property damages or accidents, even if it was due to their negligence.